Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Hewlett-Packard Lesson: Does your Law Firm have a Media Plan?

It is difficult to imagine the plight of the two Hewlett-Packard ("H-P") executives, including the former Chairwoman of the Board and former chief ethics lawyer, who went from holding respected, prestigious positions to being charged with four counts of felony, including using false pretenses to obtain confidential information from a public utility, unauthorized access of computer data, identity theft and conspiracy to commit each of those crimes. Three outside investigators are also charged.

The public relations (PR) questions and angles associated with this story that relate to law firms and attorneys are endless. Here are some key lessons.

1. Many disputes play out in the "court of public opinion" before they ever get to a court of law. Is your law firm prepared with a media plan if you need to act quickly in response to an unexpected breaking story? Getting your message out for your law firm or your client is paramount. There is no time to compile a media list or interview a PR firm. This needs to be done way in advance and ready for immediate use.

2. You need friends and acquaintances in the media. News travels fast. A law firm or attorney must have trusted relationships with key journalists built over time that can be mobilized quickly to accurately disseminate the facts about a case.

3. Don't let the sun set on negative news without a response. React immediately with all the pertinent facts in a case. Designate your media contacts and make them readily available for extended hours.

4. Have an online news room and use it proactively to tell your story. Post key facts and figures that the press can use when they need fast access about your legal case or law firm.

Perception is reality, as they say. Protect your law firm and legal practice by being prepared with an up-to-date media plan.

No comments: