No news isn’t always good news

No news isn’t always good news

No news isn’t always good news 1200 800 Sean Cullen

As Tuesday dawned this week, we both felt pretty excited as we officially began our new roles as joint managing directors of Byfield.  The team headed into the Christmas break with a mixture of tiredness and coughs and colds, but we had a real feeling that we had momentum behind us.  That feeling continues into January with clients wanting to do interesting things and an encouraging pipeline of potential new opportunities.

That said, reading the papers over the break was often a pretty sobering experience after the usual overindulgence, this year looks to be a challenging one for reasons we don’t need to spell out here.  And yet…

The (soft drink for dry January) glass half full view is that there are a few reasons for cautious optimism.  Energy bills are predicted to be way below some of the apocalyptic predicted numbers we saw in the Autumn and we were particularly encouraged by buoyant predictions for private equity deals this year by broker Peel Hunt, given many of our clients have significant private equity and private capital practices.

But of course the cost-of-living crisis remains; inflation may stabilise but will remain high for some time yet, the property market is in for a very rough ride and corporate stresses are still rising, among other issues.

So how do you shape your external communications strategy while remaining sensitive to the general situation and the fact that many of your people and clients will be tightening their belts? Our advice is not to forget about good news and certainly not to be embarrassed about putting out positive stories about your firm or encouraging trends you might be seeing. Note the Peel Hunt example and the fantastic coverage it received in The Times earlier this week.  As one national City Editor said this week –  ‘bad news writes itself’ – there is plenty of bad news out there in early 2023 and there is appetite in the media for positive stories to balance things out.  In the legal sector strong partner promotions rounds from Hogan Lovells, Milbank and Akin Gump have generated some really good profile for those firms, and ran a round-up piece in which law firm leaders express some cautious optimism for this year.

Communications professionals have an inherent ability to understand the importance of getting tone right and we urge our colleagues across the legal sector not to be shy in finding those good news stories – the market wants to hear them! Of course, it is necessary not to be tone deaf in terms of framing good news. Partner remuneration and profitability news needs to be handled carefully at this time, particularly for US firms who announce results in January.

We’d like to end by wishing all our clients and other friends a happy new year and all the best personally and professionally for 2023.  Onwards and upwards!