Before becoming a lawyer, I spent a couple of years working in media relations for a university athletic department. For those who don’t know, the media relations team is essentially the PR wing of the sports organization.
At the time, Twitter was coming onto the scene as a popular tool in the realm of sports media. Universities and professional sports organizations were using it to promote their athletes for national awards, fans were using it to consume information about their favorite teams, and writers were using it as a way to promote their columns and feature stories.
Twitter became the fastest and most convenient way to consume information. Except, it terrified—and continues to terrify—the media relations professionals whose job it is to control the message coming out of their sports organization.
I will never forget one of my mentors in media relations telling an athlete, after a particularly embarrassing tweet that garnered substantial media coverage: “Every time you send a tweet, pretend you are giving an interview on ESPN. Then re-read the tweet, and decide whether you want to send it.”
That particular lesson has stuck with me ever since then, and I think it applies equally for attorneys. Many of today’s lawyers, especially “millennials” like myself, use Twitter and other social media as a way to market themselves and their firms. Intermingled in those professional tweets are often the person’s (likely unsolicited) personal opinions.
Lawyers should think the same way as media relations professionals. Every time you send a tweet, pretend you are giving an interview with the national media. By sending that tweet you are potentially representing your firm and your clients to an unlimited audience. Unfortunately, many people in this profession have learned this lesson the hard way.
So, lawyers. Before you hit the “Tweet” button, remember: you are giving an interview to a potentially international audience, whether you realize it or not. That interview could provide a fantastic marketing opportunity for you and your firm, but it could also cause you to lose a client, your case, or even your job.