Recently I was referred to a local business owner who needed help restoring his hard-earned reputation. A major city TV investigative reporter had run a long, inflammatory and one-sided story with inaccurate information. The owner was cast as the villain. Was it the reporter’s fault? Nope, it was the business owner’s. Actually, the blame lies with his attorney who advised him to tell the reporter “no comment.” Had the owner responded appropriately (more on that below) there would have been far less damage.
Since I’m not an attorney, I don’t give legal advice. Likewise, attorneys should stick to the law and stay out of the PR sandbox. Too many still don’t recognize that what gets said in the court of public opinion can have very immediate and costly impacts. (For the record, I understand that what somebody says to the media can impact the outcome of a legal matter. And I wholeheartedly agree that legal counsel does need to be involved with preparing responses.)
Three media comms strategies when legal trouble strikes
- As soon as the problem arises, immediately develop a response strategy with media statements and get them approved. You may not need them, but when the you-know-what hits the media fan, you will be ready.
- Don’t ignore the media, which is guaranteed to put your organization in a negative light.
- Say SOMETHING, even if it is very limited. Here’s an example: “While we cannot speak to the specifics of the lawsuit, Wendell’s Widgets takes great pride in the quality of our products, and we are cooperating with the Widgets Oversight Board.”
Looking for a unique, fun leadership training program? Contact me about my new Reputation Tune-Up workshop.
Make it a winning week, team!