Public relations is no longer something that just happens; how a company or corporation is perceived in the public eye, particularly in the eye of the company’s shareholders or potential customers, isn’t something that’s left to chance. Companies have entire departments and large budgets in place to ensure that they will be viewed in a positive light by the public.In its simplest form, the idea of public relations is to get the word out to the public concerning all of the positive things that a company or organization may be involved in, and to enhance the company’s overall image, while at the same time downplaying anything that could potential be viewed as a negative action in the public eye.Public relations is kind of like advertising’s less obtrusive brother. Where advertising’s main goal is to stick a product in the face of a potential customer and give them every reason to buy it, the public relations approach is a lot less direct. Public relations will let your target consumer know what else you’ve got going on besides your product or service – like what kind of good you are doing in the community and how you plan to help more in the future. Though it’s not as bold as advertising, a good public relations department can aid in building profits just as much as advertising.There are any number of ways that a company or organization can positively use public relations to enhance their image in the eye of the public:A company can donate either time or money to a charitable cause or they could hold a charity event to raise money for a particular cause. Potential customers and share holders want to know if a company cares, and they want to know what it is that the company cares about and supports.Another approach to public relations is to have a company representative speak at an industry conference or seminar. The speaker can go over with an audience, packed with the very people that the company wants to reach, details of all of the latest activities as well as all of the future plans that will be implemented and what kind of positive impact those plans will have on the industry and the community. This is kind of like issuing a personal press release, where the company representative can get out the exact message that needs to be distributed to exactly the right people, and can then answer any potential questions that may arise. A press release is a great tool, but its content is definitive, any questions that arise from a press release will remain until another company statement is made, with a live statement questions can be addressed and answered appropriately right form the start.Though I’ve just pointed out some of the negatives of a press release, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a very effective tool of public relations. A press release mat not be personal, and it may or may not leave small questions in the minds of some readers, but what it can do is reach a tremendous amount of people giving them a good idea of your mission statement or telling them of a recent award or accomplishment of the company. A well written press release can reach thousands of thousands of people that wouldn’t have known of your accomplishment any other way – and press releases come at a much cheaper price than any form of advertising. You’d never be able to reach the same portion of your target audience with public speaking as you would with a high quality press release.A company’s image can mean everything – one big negative event, even if it’s only perceived as a negative event in the public eye, can literally destroy a company. If a company or organization wants to become successful and stay successful, it has to build up and protect its positive image – the only way to really do that effectively is through good public relations.
The use of public relations in litigation is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s world. Litigation PR is defined as the management of the communication process during the course of any legal dispute or adjudicatory processing so as to affect the outcome or its impact on the client’s overall reputation. In today’s world it is more and more common to see law firms being assisted by PR consultants and counselors. This is evident by the increased media coverage of court cases and the law. Many parties to a lawsuit have very important concerns and interests that go well beyond the legal concerns and issues. Negative publicity can cause damage to an organization’s and/or an individual’s reputation even if they prevail and win in the courtroom. Therefore the impact of negative publicity on public opinion cannot be ignored.There are proven ways to use public relations to assist attorneys in their litigation efforts. Here are ten (10) public relations tips to assist the attorneys in influencing the outcome of the litigation, protecting their client’s reputation before and after the litigation, making a client’s viewpoint known, ensuring balanced media coverage, helping the media and the public understand complex legal issues, defusing a hostile environment and helping resolve the conflict.1. Commit to and retain a public relations consultant to be on to your legal team at the beginning of the client engagement.2. Engage a professional public relations consultant that has experience in litigation PR.3. Develop a strategic communications plan for the engagement. An effective public communications strategy must complement, support and enhance the legal strategy. Avoid withholding information from your PR expert, as it could prove disastrous in developing the PR strategy.4. Work with your professional PR consultant to select a company spokesperson and to work closely with the spokesperson to prepare him or her for all public appearances and public statements.5. Listen to, hear and understand what your professional PR consultant tells you so you can develop a clear vision of a big picture view point relative to an issue that goes beyond the immediate pending litigation or issue.6. Rely on the strategic use of your public relations experts’ experience in dealing with the media.7. Strategically engage the public relations expert’s resources and networks with various media and identified stakeholder groups.8. Seek, trust and use your PR professional’s expertise in crafting statements to the media and the public.9. Commit to understanding that there is a difference between writing legal documents and writing for the general public.
Work closely with your public relations consultant so he or she can translate your “legalese” into “common” English for the media and the public.10. Have the attorneys be engaged in media training to increase their comfort level when it comes to dealing with the media. Have your PR expert educate and train the attorneys on how journalists work, how deadlines play into the interview process and how to develop a positive rapport and relationship with the media.