Public relations and litigation have become a growing trend in recent years, and the popularity of linking the two together is becoming increasingly prevalent each year. Litigation PR helps to manage the process of communication throughout the course of a legal dispute in order to affect the outcome of said dispute, or the impact of the dispute on a person’s reputation.
Getting sued isn’t exactly fun. It can wreck financial and emotional habit on any individual, but especially when that individual is in the public eye. Unfortunately, however, lawsuits aren’t always avoidable. When they arise, particularly for those whose reputation could be at serious stake, litigation public relations is exceptionally important.
Today, it seems that we are living more under the microscope than ever before. News and information travel faster than you can blink. If you are involved in a legal proceeding and you’re a public figure – whether you’re a celebrity, a business owner or you run a popular vlog, changes are that the public is going to know about your predicament before you even have a chance to digest what is happening. When that happens, the public that adored you can quickly abhor you. That’s why litigation PR is so important.
Negative publicity surrounding legal proceedings can do serious damage to the reputation of people and organizations alike, even if the proceedings were a win in the courtroom. As such, the effects that negative publicity has on a reputation should never be ignored.
Should you or your enterprise ever encounter legal issues, here are some helpful tips that can help you traverse the rough waters that are associated with public relations litigation.
Open an Effective Line of Communication
It’s important to have a firm understanding of who should know what, when who should know what is a real science. In order to successful get through the crisis of litigation you’re your reputation still intact necessitates effective and strategic communication. Not only should you find out who should know what, but you should also find out what it is that should become public knowledge, and when that information should be made available. In order to stay ahead of a crisis, you really need to make sure that all lines of communication are open, and moreover, that those lines of communication are effective. This includes speaking with your attorney on a regular basis so that you have a firm understanding of all legal proceedings and the impact that they could have on your reputation.
Remain Calm and Plug On
Always, no matter what the circumstances may be, make sure that you keep your calm. Unfortunately, you are going to encounter some people that will try to get under your skin and make you angry in order to get a reaction. Don’t let them. Losing your temper will only make your situation look worse. Furthermore, keep in mind that anything that you say to the media will become public knowledge before you can even check your own Facebook page.
Never panic and keep your cool. Answer questions calmly and rationally. Make sure your facts are straight before you state them and stay calm and focused. If you aren’t sure of an answer, you don’t know what to say, you feel that your response could be incriminating, or you simply don’t feel like responding, respond with a simple “no comment.” Sure, people may speculate, but speculations based on your lack of response are far better than those made based off of words that you may have spoken when you were angry, or words that become twisted by the public.
Be Polite and Courteous
It might be hard to remain polite and courteous, especially when you constantly have reporters bombarding you with questions. It’s not easy to be kind and keep your manners intact when you’re under a tremendous amount of pressure, but do yourself a favor: make sure you always mind your Ps and Qs. Don’t joke, belittle, make inappropriate comments or come off as rude in any way. If you do, there’s a pretty good chance that you are going to flush your reputation down the toilet.
Keep your composure and your manners about you and your reputation won’t take an additional beating.
Know that It’s Public Knowledge
Everything and anything that you say can – and most likely will – go to the public. It really doesn’t matter if you ask for something to be off the record and the media agrees. There’s no legal bearing associated with being “off the record.” Always assume that anything you say will be presented to the public. Unless you want the whole world to know, don’t say anything at all.
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Take Advantage of Social Media
In times of crisis, social media can be your worst enemy, but it can also be your best friend. While yes, the news about your legal proceedings can spread like wildfire on the various social platforms, which could potentially further harm your reputation; use social media to your advantage to douse the flames.
Use your social media accounts to communicate directly with the public. It’s a great way to let the world know that you are promptly addressing any issues that have arisen. This is an excellent way to let the public know your side of the story, and to do so quickly and without having the information manipulated by the press. When used properly, social media can take an unfortunate situation, such as litigation, and turn it around to your advantage.
Be Quick and Precise
Though you might be tempted to wait to address the public until you have a full understanding of what is really going on, especially when it comes to legal proceedings, it’s today’s day and age, it’s actually wise to be quick with your responses. While all of the details might be yet to unfold, addressing an issue that concerns the public will help to uphold their trust. It lets them know that you are handling the issue and that it is a priority to you. The longer you wait to respond, the more likely the public will grow to distrust you, which could hit your reputation even harder.
Be Open and Responsive to Criticism
There’s always going to be criticism, even when things are going really well. When things are going particularly as planned, however, the criticism is going to become way worse. Make sure that you are ready to accept it and respond to it. Again, don’t be brash, rude, or lose your cool. Instead, remain cool and composed. Don’t ignore the criticism that comes your way, either; make sure you respond to it. People want to know what your reaction to the situation is, how you feel about the way people view you, and how you plan on rectifying things. By being open and responsive to criticism in a positive way, it makes you appear more human to the public, which could help to salvage your reputation.
Even if the issue at hand was truly the result of negligence on behalf of yourself or your company, make sure that you are as transparent about it as possible. Transparency is important because the truth will eventually surface. Trying to cover things up and having issues revealed at a later date by someone other than yourself will do way more harm to your reputation. Don’t delete negative posts or comments. Don’t criticize criticisms. Everyone knows that even the most trusted public figures, brands and organizations can make mistakes. If you are honest about your mistakes, the public will be much more inclined to move past them, and your reputation will eventually be able to repair itself.
Trying to conceal information that’s already been leaked to the public, or that could become public knowledge down the road, is almost guaranteed to backfire. It’s far better for the public to hear about any issues directly from the source – you – than through a third party. Though it may not seem like it at the time, most issues will be forgiven and forgotten, and much quicker than you might think, so long as they are handled promptly and up front. When you are confronted with difficult questions, keep your answers as simple and direct as possible. Elaborating too much could potentially lead questions to a new direction that you are not prepared to deal with – and that could really hit your reputation.
When it comes to issues that pertain to litigation, public relations is an absolute must if you want to save face and keep your reputation intact. By being proactive, up front, honest, transparent, and by keeping your cool, you’ll be able to get through this tumultuous time – and fare much better than you ever thought possible. When it comes to your reputation, especially anything that could harm it, public relations is an absolute must. Make sure that you know how to effectively handle the situation and you’ll rise above. The public is quick to forgive and to forget, so long as you handle things properly.