Reputation can be extremely fragile in this interconnected and 24*7 online world, brands can live or die by their reputation in this highly competitive environment. The value of reputation has increased much more than ever before especially considering the endless stream of corporate scandals. Trustworthiness is still is a big issue among consumers and hence we are living in a ‘Reputation Economy’, which suggests a marketplace where businesses and brands are rated, commented on, and judged based on reputation (rather than financial performance).
In this light, Litigation PR has become pivotal for any company/brand during the course of any legal dispute or adjudicatory processing so as to affect the outcome or its impact on the client’s overall reputation. Media: Traditional/Online are closely following and reporting about court cases, the legal issues and its possible impact on the brand in question. Media houses are allowed to factually report the cases as well as share their point of view, however if this is likely to cause negative publicity/reputation damage to an organization, the company should ensure that its legal standpoint is shared with all relevant media covering the case.
Here is where engaging a PR consultancy with a strong Public Affairs team can assist in making a client’s viewpoint known, protecting their client’s reputation before and after the litigation, ensuring balanced media coverage, helping the media and the public understand complex legal issues, defusing a hostile environment and helping resolve the conflict. Having closely worked with companies facing litigation and helping them to effectively communicate with the media, here are some tips/key takeaways that could be useful:
- Be closely engaged with the legal team of your client, understand the case thoroughly in order to offer a thought through counsel for engagement with media
- Sensitize the legal team on how journalists work, the interview process, deadlines and how you can mutually work with each other to build a positive reputation about the company
- Create an ongoing FAQs document based on the case and get the legal team to support with the responses, this will help to share real time responses with media post the case hearing
- Before the court hearing, be involved in the legal team’s meeting which will assist you in developing holding statements for the media. Ensure that the language used in the statements are not legal jargons and should be written in simple language for understanding of the general public
- Keep the media that is closely tracking the news informed about the case proceedings to ensure that the client’s POV is covered in all news reports
- Most importantly, keep the client informed about all news reports on a real-time basis, send an sms early morning and follow it up with a detailed analysis of the reports – understand the tonality and facts covered in the report filed
My submission to all PR consultants servicing highly regulated sectors such as pharmaceuticals, banking, finance, real estate etc. understand the key laws and policies impacting the sectors and if it could potentially have an impact on your client’s reputation in any way. One does not need to be an expert on the laws, but it is important to know about them and having a fair understanding about how they will affect your client’s business. This will help you to be perceived as more proactive about your client and its business.
Do you have an experience of working on litigation scenarios or have any views/thoughts/comments on this article, please share in the section below.