Media Relations, Media Strategy

How to Maximize PR for your Lawsuit

Journalists, virtually without exception, enjoy writing about lawsuits. There are any number of reasons: Lawsuits by their nature involve conflict, and the media likes to write about conflict because readers like to read about it. Lawsuits involve two sides, and it’s always interesting to present a set of facts in two different ways and let the reader choose. Also, lawsuits almost always trigger a news event mostly because of who is involved, especially if it involves a high profile celebrity or public company.

That means when an attorney plans to file a lawsuit, it’s advisable to seek counsel from a PR professional to maximize media exposure of the case. Here are five guidelines for doing so.

  1. Make sure your client wants media coverage. It is not advisable to file a complaint that your client doesn’t want to discuss with the media or doesn’t want you to discuss with the media. It may even violate legal ethics to do so. Your client’s desires and needs must come first.
  2. Call before you file, not afterwards. A PR professional can offer advice about when to file the lawsuit maximize media coverage and PR counsel can help you shape your messaging for media interviews too.
  3. Think about what effect the lawsuit will have on possible settlement. The filing of a lawsuit inevitably escalates a dispute that may have simmered for a while. Just the fact that the suit is public can induce the other side to settle, or it can harden both sides’ positions so that settlement becomes impossible.
  4. Consider how the lawsuit will be perceived by the media and the public. Sometimes, a lawsuit will be perceived completely differently by the media than by you or other attorneys. Earlier this year, MGM Resorts International filed a lawsuit against the victims of the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas. Regardless of the legal merits of the case, the very fact of the filing generated a great deal of bad publicity for MGM.
  5. Keep the PR person involved as the lawsuit continues. His or her involvement doesn’t need to end once the lawsuit is filed. There will be moments during the case when you will want to consult the PR person about your next steps