Litigation PR is still my primary dissertation topic, although not much research has been done since the last post on it. The PRCA has published a “Best Practice Guide” on the topic, which is an interesting read.
This guide separates the practice of Litigation PR into a number of categories:
- Promoting lawyers;
- Encouraging early or favourable settlement; and
- Managing a client’s reputation.
I am far more interested in the second and third categories. Some tips given in this guide include being more helpful to overcome a journalist’s negative attitude when on the side of the less favoured party, making sure that legal and commercial arguments are aligned (so that any victory is not negated by its adverse effects), and, maybe most importantly, making sure that, whatever the outcome, the client is viewed in as favourable a light as possible by the media.
An example of the latter given by the PRCA was Ian Hislop’s statement, after losing a defamation suit. He said “If this is justice then I’m a banana”, and it was this quotation that was included in the newspapers following the conclusion of the trial, and in fact prompted the winner of the suit to reduce her payout by 10%. This is an incredibly important part of Litigation PR, and works both ways – there is no point, as a well-known person, winning a case and then negating all the positive publicity by doing something idiotic or shameful. A case of this was Michael Le Vell dumping his girlfriend by text after being acquitted of child sex abuse charges. Having just been acquitted, the public’s opinion of him was the highest it had been in a while, yet he then took action that defeated it all.
This is an important, but overlooked, aspect of legal proceedings, and hopefully there will be a lot to read about from a theoretic and academic point of view. I just have to find it all.