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Lawyers Should Learn to 'IRAC' a Successful Press Conference

By Andrew Chow, Esq. | Last updated on

IRAC is a law student's best friend, but the acronym can also help when a lawyer wants to call a press conference.

In this case, we're not talking about delving into the Issue, Rules, Analysis, and Conclusion of your legal argument -- though reporters unfamiliar with the law may actually appreciate a simplified "mini-IRAC" explanation of what's going on.

As applied to attorney press conferences, IRAC stands for Identifying media organizations, Releasing details, Answering media questions, and Controlling your event. So when you have to call a press conference, here's how to do it:

Identify media organizations.

Figure out which TV, radio, print, and Internet news operations you want at your press conference. Try not to leave anyone out, or they may feel slighted the next time you have to deal with them.

Some reporters are assigned to specific beats, like local or federal courts. Be sure to reach out to them, but also send a press release announcing your event to the main newsroom email or fax line. That should give assignment editors a heads-up.

Release details to everyone at the same time.

One advantage of a press conference is you don't have to repeat the same information ad nauseum. Once everyone is present and recording equipment is rolling, stand at a podium and clearly make your points.

You may also want to distribute a hard copy of your main takeaway points -- a bulleted list may be most helpful for busy broadcast reporters who are pressed for time.

Answer questions succinctly.

Taking reporters' questions can show you're open and honest. But keep ethics in mind, and don't reveal anything that's privileged or confidential.

If you don't know the answer to a question, just say so, or promise to follow up. You can refuse to answer biased questions, but don't get into a shouting match -- drama like that may overshadow the point of your news conference.

Control your press conference.

You can control reporters' questions by setting ground rules early: Limit the scope of your press conference to specific issues, and refuse to discuss unrelated matters.

Control over a press conference also includes timing and environmental factors. Distractions like loud traffic or construction can ruin an outdoor press conference, for example.

But there are some things you just can't control, like breaking news that may bump your story to the back pages. As a backup, you may want to videotape your attorney press conference and post it on your firm's website in its entirety; FindLaw's Lawyer Marketing experts can help with that.

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