Notes on Litigation Public Relations

No one can stop the broader public from voicing their opinions online.

Fitzpatrick’s Six Objectives of Litigation Public Relations

  1. Counteracting negative publicity.
  2. Making a client’s viewpoint known.
  3. Ensuring balanced media coverage.
  4. Helping the media and the public understand complex legal issues.
  5. Defusing a hostile environment.
  6. Helping resolve the conflict (Fitzpatrick, 1996).

To achieve those objectives, the first step is to establish credibility with the media as an information source. The next step is to control the flow of information to the media so that the right message gets out. The third step is to develop a message that supports the client’s position and get that message out to the media and the public (Fitzpatrick, 1996, Haggerty, 2003, Reber, Gower, & Robinson, 2006).

Differences between Litigation PR and Other PR Practices

* Litigation PR is highly dependent on the media. Although the practice of PR involves far more than just mediated communication, litigation PR remains dependent on the media. It is because of the media’s increased attention to lawsuits that litigation PR has become a necessity for many high-profile clients (Gibson, 1998).

* Because typical public relations campaign strategies and tactics may not be appropriate and may even be harmful at certain times during a lawsuit, the legal strategy must take procedure (Schweitzer, 2003).

* Litigation PR is more regulated than regular public relations because of the potential to prejudice the legal process (Gibson, 1998).

* Litigation PR is directed with the emphasis of one-way, asymmetrical communication. Because the law is adversarial in nature, creating a win-lose situation, the goal of litigation PR is to reinforce the legal strategy and theory of the case to ensure a win and to reduce damage to the organization’s credibility and reputation (Reber, Gower, & Robinson, 2006).

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