Declining to comment during pending litigation is fairly a common, even comfortable response, but it’s a default that may do clients a disservice in the long run. As news cycles move faster and faster, a company’s reputation can be forever altered in an instant, even after a win in court. Sometimes, a loss in the the court of public opinion can be just as damaging for a client, which is why litigation communication is so valuable.
Litigation communication is building a public relations strategy that works in coordination with an ongoing legal strategy. So often, public relations takes a back seat when a legal case is in process, but if a client wins a lawsuit but hurts its reputation in the process, the damage may be irreparable. Litigation communication can help a client protect its reputation, brand and audience relationships in tandem with a successful legal strategy. This field of public relations is almost empty, and clients are suffering for it.
So how does it work?
First, find a public relations firm that has experience working directly with attorneys. These PR people understand the value of playing the long game – it’s not about immediate media hits for them. I can’t remember who said it, but it’s true that the worst time to make a friend is when you really need one. Start looking for a good litigation PR firm now, before you have a client in need, so you have time to get to know the team.
Second, talk to the public relations team about how they set their goals. Firms that focus on measurable results will enable you to demonstrate ROI to your clients. Don’t be fooled by busywork; being busy doesn’t equal being effective.
Third, take the firm for a spin. Get a proposal for working a case and have a conversation about ways they could make a difference for current and future clients. A client shouldn’t have to choose between good PR and good legal work, and if you can make that happen your clients will appreciate your service even more.
Still wondering if litigation communication might work for you and your clients? Give us a call. We’d love to sit down and see how we can help!