Merging PR Efforts

When Bingham McHale became Bingham Greenebaum Doll, we helped share the story

Case in Point | January 2012


photo: Carl Dwyer

While many business folks were laying low at the end of 2011 in anticipation of eggnog and travel plans, we were gearing up for a vote and merger announcement by leadership from our client Bingham McHale. When on Dec. 21 attorneys from Bingham McHale and Greenebaum Doll & McDonald in Louisville agreed to merge, we were ready to communicate the story. It was a pleasure helping Bingham McHale’s team and the Louisville team craft stories and a PR strategy.

Before we typed one letter of the press release that would communicate the merger story, I looked at other firms’ merger releases. What I found is that most of them were practically interchangeable. Change a few names, dates and cities, and you have yourself a perfectly respectable yet boring press release. I wanted to be sure we told a story that was true to this merger and one that I thought readers would genuinely want to read.

We dug deeper, including interesting clients of note like the Gatorade Trust, franchise holders of KFC restaurants and Churchill Downs. That angle helped get us on the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog. We also made sure that the merger was not positioned as a takeover, like many mergers are perceived. This uniting of the two firms is a “true merger of equals,” a phrase we used in the release and one which was often repeated in media coverage.

This was not a story that was going to develop over time. It was breaking news that would be reported immediately. Media outlets that didn’t act quickly would be reporting old news, and so the coverage would grow ever skimpier. As such, we wanted to give reporters and editors as much information as we had available as quickly as possible, from stats to access to firm leadership. To nurture the story’s message, we filmed leaders from both firms announcing the merger and posted that video on a microsite representing Bingham Greenebaum Doll. (Here you’ll also find the complete release.)

We enjoyed accurate, consistent coverage from many local media outlets including Inside Indiana Business, Indianapolis Business Journal, The Indianapolis Star and other regional media outlets. Our partners in Louisville received similar coverage from their outlets. We also targeted industry publications, with stories or mentions in the American Bar Association Journal, The American Lawyer (an article repeated on Forbes.com), and several local and national law blogs. - Casey Kenley, Communications Director

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