Monday, May 09, 2011

When Media Comes A-Calling On Litigants: 10 Rules

When involved in a “media-magnetic” litigation, here are 10 rules you need follow:

1. Coordinate all verbal and written media communications with legal strategy.

2. Be consistent. Establish clear, credible positions on every key issue and communicate them consistently in every geographic area. Commit these positions to writing.

3. Centralize. Designate one point person (and a surrogate) to receive all media calls, and publish a policy communicating media centralization to others in the company.

4. Consider. After hearing a media question, the point person does not have to answer on the spot. Advise the reporter of your desire to think about the response and agree to call back at a designated time.

5. Explain. If your response is “no comment,”make sure you explain why (e.g. legal restriction, investigation going on, no relevance to the case).” Without an explanation “no comment” is interpreted as an attempt to hide.

6. Debunk. Debunk rumors and employ facts where possible (e.g. “we know that information is incorrect because…”)

7. Select your communication channels carefully to make sure they reach the audiences targeted.

8. Support. Periodically examine the need for distinguished third-party support for the company’s position on key issues, which adds credibility to your point of view.

9. Be truthful. Tell the truth. Be direct. Do not be vague or obfuscate.

10. Rehearse. Anticipate the questions reporters might ask and rehearse your answers in the same way a lawyer rehearses witnesses.

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