Managing the Editorial Nomination Process

Managing the incredible influx of nomination requests that any legal PR team receives weekly can be a thankless and daunting task. Last year, Julie Fei, global manager of communications at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, says she was responsible for completing 200 submissions — not including Chambers and Legal 500. Public Relations Manager Kristy Werness at Irell & Manella LLP developed and submitted 60.

How do they manage to organize their submissions and deliver such exceptional results? This was the topic of the LMA Los Angeles panel on March 16. Both Julie and Kristy said they keep running calendars of all the nominations that are important to their firms. And, when other requests come to a lawyer at the firm from unknown outlets that require a payment to play, they tell the attorney to ignore them.

Julie said she monitors cases/matters during the year to make sure that everything going on at the firm is on her radar. Kristy tries to make the process as easy as possible for her attorneys by getting ahead of the deadline and collecting as much information as possible before the nomination is actually due to be submitted.

They both do a lot of research on current matters, using media monitoring platforms so nothing falls through the cracks — but Julie said some do go unoticed because they are not always informed of all client successes.

Here are Julie’s Best Tips:

Keep track of your firm’s big successes, either by creating a clip file of press mentions, writing stories for internal dissemination or tracking new litigation. This will help you suggest winning matters to nominate and may aid in reducing some of the internal firm politics.

Try to tell a story in your nomination in the same kind of narrative as you’d like to read it in one of the publications. Chances are if you don’t easily understand the technical issue of law that your lawyers prevailed on or why it mattered to the client, , the editor won’t either.

Here are Kristy’s Best Tips:

Be strategic and put your best people forward. That should always be the aim, even though we all know it doesn’t always work out like that.

Being organized is key. Create calendar deadlines and set reminders. Start early and give yourself more time than you think you need.

In terms of managing the process, remember that you’re the expert in your field and our firms hired us to lead the marketing and PR efforts for a reason. So don’t be afraid to make your case about what you think is best, whether it’s a potential nominee, what matters to include in a submission, or how to position a matter/nominee. Obviously, sometimes you’re going to need to go along with something you disagree with, but I’ve often found that my attorneys want this input from us and that perhaps their suggestion was just an idea and not something that they felt strongly about.