There Are No Appeals in Public Perception: Get It Right the First Time

When your company is dealing with a legal issue, it’s likely you’re confronting challenges both in the courtroom and the court of public opinion. And just as you wouldn’t ask your public affairs partner to represent you in court, you shouldn’t expect your lawyer to steer your communications strategy.

All too often we see companies relying solely on their legal teams to dictate the terms of their engagements with the public. And because a lawyer’s no. 1 priority is to defend and protect the company at all costs, their inclination is likely to say very little, even “no comment,” allowing questions or suspicion to fester among the public. Don’t get us wrong – the legal strategy should always be a primary focus. But without a litigation communications strategy, the reputational damage you could sustain could be lethal, even if you ultimately win the court battle.

Instead of shrinking from the spotlight, your legal team should be empowered to dictate the terms of the conversation. But that can only be successfully accomplished by collaborating with an experienced strategic communications partner who understands how best to explain the client’s position, as well as serve as an “interpreter” as courtroom events unfold.

Such a partnership improves your odds of mitigating damaging coverage and clarifying courtroom events, regardless of the outcomes from the bench. If we can make one thing abundantly clear, it’s this: lawyers have the opportunity to appeal a judgment —that’s not an option with the public.

When you enlist a strategic communications partner, we will work hand in glove with your legal team to manage the impact of the publicity that often follows litigation.

Put Legal and Communications Teams Together at the Start

Gone are the days when lawsuits could be quietly filed and disputes be settled quickly.

Every reporter in the country has access to the courts electronically, and they’re prepared to write about it immediately.

You need to have your external communications strategy buttoned up and ready to go in tandem with your legal strategy. If you’re on the receiving end of a lawsuit, depending on the case and the court, you may have two weeks to file a response and even less time to respond to potential press inquiries.

While the lawyers are busy building your legal response, your communications team needs to be assessing the level of public interest in the issue and planning your strategy for managing your interactions with the media, employees, and customers.

Expert Communicators Translate Legal Matters

However a court case proceeds, it’s critical that you can transmit those developments in a language that the public can understand. Litigation’s language and processes are not only extremely unique, it’s often so procedural that it can be impossible for the public to interpret, leading to a distorted impression of the “big picture.”

Expert communications partners know how to interpret complicated legal proceedings, bridge that divide, and meet the public where they are.

Your Image is Too Valuable to Let Legal Handle Communications

When the worlds of jurisprudence and public opinion collide, there’s a lot at stake: Your reputation is on trial. What you have spent decades building could crumble in a viral comments section or a misinformed newspaper article.

The Monument Group excels in helping clients see their issues from outside the company bubble. Perception of your issue could be vastly different than you realize. What may be pivotal in the courtroom may be secondary to the public, and being unprepared for that public opinion gap can hobble your campaign before it even starts.

Coordination with your team, your legal counsel, and your communications counsel creates an alliance prepared for battle on all fronts.

There is No Court of Last Resort for Public Opinion

Ignoring how the public’s interpretation of litigation can irreparably damage your reputation for years to come, even if you win the case.

Your communications and legal teams should coordinate every step of the way to craft successful strategies that protect your reputation outside the courtroom.

If you want to learn more about how we can work with you and your legal team to deliver the best outcome, let’s chat.


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