Taking a Bite Out of the Big Apple
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report
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Taking a Bite Out of the Big Apple

In 2000, Blank Rome, a prominent Philadelphia-based law firm, entered the New York market through a combination with 80-lawyer firm Tenzer Greenblatt. The marriage great for business but created a gap in awareness.

Paul Holmes

In 2000, Blank Rome, a prominent Philadelphia-based law firm, entered the New York market through a combination with 80-lawyer firm Tenzer Greenblatt. The marriage great for business but created a gap in awareness. Tenzer had strong brand name recognition but Blank Rome, despite its more than 450 attorneys nationwide, was not as well known in the crowded New York City legal market.

A multi-faceted PR program devoted at the legal and business communities was undertaken to establish Blank Rome’s growing New York presence with the goal of attracting both clients and attorneys to this thriving office. Through a combination of publicity and community relations Blank Rome took a bite out of the Big Apple, building its business and attracting new lateral partners.

In 2000, Blank Rome entered the New York market through a combination with 80-lawyer firm Tenzer Greenblatt. The marriage was a great one for business but created a gap in awareness. Tenzer, a solid middle-market, mid-sized firm, had brand name recognition but Blank Rome, an influential firm more than 450 attorneys nationwide, was not as well known in the crowded New York City legal market. New York is not always the city of brotherly love.

G.S. Schwartz percent Co. met immediately with senior partners and established a core group of practice areas to participate in the media relations program. That group ultimately grew, but initially included the Real Estate, White Collar Crime, Matrimonial, Employment and Corporate practices. Partners were audited for media experience, their expertise ascertained, and then media trained.

A second audit of partners was conducted to determine involvement in NYC community groups – business groups, healthcare-oriented, cultural, or even personal – religious or other clubs. Research was done on organizations that either maximized partner interest, or filled gaps where no partner was participating.

The Blank Rome New York office needed NYC awareness. A decision was made to target New York and Vertical media, with major National Top Tier media playing a back role initially. Immediately, meetings were held and introductions were made to a wide variety of NY area business writers, legal columnists and vertical industry writers.

Media relations efforts have dramatically raised the visibility of Blank Rome New York’s partners by utilizing their expertise to garner publicity in local regional and national media, including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Financial Times, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, Fortune, Inc., Associated Press, United Press International, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune and others. In addition, broadcast exposure has also been very significant and high profile. Highlights include Blank Rome’s partners on CNN, Fox News Channel, and CBS Evening News, among others.

The firm’s charitable and board affiliations were studied and new relationships were forged by firm partners with several prestigious, cultural, and business oriented community groups including Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York’s Olympics Bid, the Association for Corporate Growth and the Association for a Better New York. Such strategies substantially increased Blank Rome’s visibility and participation in the New York City community. As one example, Mike Mullman, M percentA partner and administrative head of the New York office, serves on the board of the Lincoln Center Business Council.

“While individual partners in the firm have always been involved with the greater New York community, the firm got behind the initiative in a considered way,” Mullman said. “Through my work with the Lincoln Center Business Council, for instance, we not only demonstrate our support of the arts and culture in this great city, but I have considerable interaction with other like-minded executives from a variety of industries. The firm also benefits from being listed as a supporter in Lincoln Center’s advertising and other programs.”

Zagat New York City Restaurant guides were created with a custom Chrysler Building cover – underscoring Blank Rome’s New York City presence. A Grand Old Party celebration was hosted by Blank Rome during the Republican National Convention for visiting delegates, clients and friends of the firm, in the Chrysler Building lobby – the first ever event in this historic space.

In 2003 Blank Rome was ranked 91 in the New York Law Journal list of 100. In 2004 the firm moved up three places in the NY rankings to number 88.

With the addition of eight outstanding lateral hires in 2004, there are now 93 lawyers in the firm’s New York office. BR has developed a reputation for a strong and growing presence in Manhattan, and strong practices in key areas such as corporate finance and securities, real estate and bankruptcy/creditors rights.

The new New York office lateral hires (8 hired in 2004 comprising of 4 associates and 4 partners) brought in 11 percent of the new clients in New York, representing 24 percent of the billings for that office in 2004.

More than 450 invited guests attended Blank Rome’s “Grand Old Party” held in the Chrysler building lobby during the convention. Guests included delegates from across the country, plus many New York-based clients and prospective clients.

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