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FBC Manby Bowdler

FBC Manby Bowdler is 29 partner commercial and private client law firm based in Wolverhampton, Telford and Shrewsbury.

When Reay Public Relations started working for the firm in mid-2009, it had been without a PR agency for some months.  Awareness was low, off the back of little coverage.

In the course of the five years of our campaign, we generated more than 160 pieces of coverage per year, creating new business enquiries, winning new clients and increasing the number of top rankings for the firm in the Legal 500 from one to six.

We worked closely with the in-house marketing team to define the firm’s objectives and strategy, target audiences and media and key messages.

We put in systems for news gathering from partners and associates and started to generate press coverage at once. Working with the marketing manager, we insisted on monthly face-to-face meetings with the fee earners in each department. By preparing draft copy for press releases from information gathered at these meetings, fee earners also soon realised that far from being a burden, taking part in the firm’s PR effort was easy and quick, and could benefit their personal profile, as well as that of the firm.

We prepared a minimum of five press releases a year for each of the firm’s departments, i.e.

Corporate and Commercial, Employment, Planning, Wills Trusts and Estate Planning, Litigation, Commercial Property, Family, Agriculture and Rural Services, and Personal Injury, as well as press releases about the whole of the firm. For the more active departments, such as Litigation and Employment, we prepared up to 15.

The PR campaign focused on a number of key media, most notably the two main daily newspapers covering Wolverhampton and Shropshire, (the Express & Star and Shropshire Star) as well as key business publications (Birmingham Post) and websites, and lifestyle magazines in the wider West Midlands.

Success was measured in terms of total numbers of cuttings, which increased each year, and on meaningful coverage in the two key target publications. One partner recorded the number of telephone calls following the appearance of a press release and kept track of fees earned as a result.  One campaign of four press releases, generated more than £10,000 in fees. Otherwise, the evidence of success was anecdotal in terms of feedback from clients, prospects and fellow professionals to fee earners.  However, in the course of the four years of our campaign, the number of top rankings for the firm in the Legal 500 rose from one to six.

“Jonathan provided PR consultancy services to the Firm for over 5 years. He supported me in shaping the Firm’s PR agenda, establishing and implementing an external communications strategy across of all our service areas. Jonathan’s sector knowledge and in depth understanding of the legal marketplace guaranteed accurate, well written content pitched in the right way using the most relevant media channel. I really enjoyed working with Jonathan – always professional, extremely knowledgeable and very easy to work with,” Laura Jones, Marketing Manager FBC Manby Bowdler