Law firms are a part of the community just like any other local businesses, but that position has to be upheld. One easy and fun way to participate in your local community while showing your firm’s benevolent nature is by organizing a scholarship program for local students.
The Benefits of a Scholarship
There’s nothing local news likes better than feel-good stories, and nothing is more feel-good than a young student working hard and being recognized for it. When you set up a scholarship, you are a good force that is recognizing the student’s hard work.
Getting the publicity requires work beyond setting up the scholarship, which is important to keep in mind. Use your connections at the local papers. Don’t have any connections? It’s time to start making them.
2. Improved Public Image
Law firms can sometimes appear intimidating and focused on their business above all else. By giving money to hardworking students or youths out of nothing but the goodness of your heart, you are proving this wrong.
If a potential client is researching local law firms, they may feel more connected to the law firm that has been proving that it has interests in their community. By displaying the scholarship prominently on your website, your values are front and center.
3. The Publicity is Cyclical
There are multiple news cycles that can be squeezed out of a single scholarship and more for different types of awards. There are separate stories that a reporter can write about the announcement of the scholarship, the announcement of the winner(s), the profile of the winner(s), and the announcement of the next scholarship.
Different types of competitions can have different cycles. A talent/performance-based award can have a story based around the various performances, a writing competition could feature the writings, and a research award can highlight the research and findings done. Think of what best fits with your firm and how you can make it last.
How to Organize a Scholarship Contest
Deciding on a competition
To organize a scholarship contest you need to first think of a competition. This can either relate to your practice areas (for example design a street that would keep drivers, pedestrians, and bikers safe while maintaining accessibility for all, if you are a personal injury firm) or simply recognizing talent (youth leader awards, personal essays, talent shows, etc.). Choose a competition that you wouldn’t mind having someone sort through large amounts of submissions.
Setting the award
What are these kids even winning? If it’s a scholarship, it should be a set amount of money to go to their education. If it’s an award for a charity, it should be a set amount of money to go to a charity of the winner’s choosing. If it’s a cash prize, just give the kid their check. Whatever the award is, make sure that it’s clearly outlined in the announcement.
The contest announcement
When announcing the contest, make the contest rules and guidelines very clear. If there’s an age or GPA limit, make that clear. Also make sure the deadlines for submission are clear, as well as the date the winners will be announced by. You don’t want anyone to feel like they’re wasting your time.
Remember the contacts you made in the local newspapers? Use them to get the announcement out. Students are often thrilled at any chance they might get to add something to their resume, but they won’t know about it unless it’s made public.
The winners’ announcement
So the contest has run its course, you got the submissions, you chose the right one(s) to be the winner(s), and now you’re ready to tell the world. It’s time to call up your reporter friends again. Writing blog posts for your website are great, but they’ll only really reach the people on your website. By having a story in the paper more people will see both the contest winner(s) as well as your law firm. If people want to learn more, they can visit your website.
Starting the next competition
The winner(s) announcement is a great opportunity to also announce your next competition. Keep the cycle going. For this to work, you need to figure out the optimal time period for each competition and start the process all over.