Dave Bloom 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Crisis PR and Your Law Firm’s Reputation It seems that every law firm has a recovery plan in place for disasters caused by floods, fire, and the like. Yet even the best-managed law firms may not be fully prepared for a business crisis of some sort. When that happens, crisis communication is a critical organizational function. Ignoring this important business component could put the health of the firm in peril. There’s no shortage of definitions for the word “crisis.” In the context of law firm reputation, a crisis is defined as a significant threat to the day-to-day operations that can cause serious consequences if not dealt with properly. A crisis can mean loss of finances and reputation. Ultimately, crisis management is meant to protect the firm from threats and/or limit its negative impact. Preparation is the key. Pre-crisis planning Crisis prevention helps reduce the known risks that could lead to a firm crisis. In order to be prepared, you’ll need to create a crisis management plan, select a crisis management team and concoct several possible scenarios to test the plan and the team. Crisis management plan The crisis management plan provides a list of key contacts and their related information. The firm may want certain individuals pre-assigned to certain tasks. The team members should know what tasks and responsibilities they have during a crisis. Time during a crisis is saved because the crisis plan has been carefully designed and executed. The spokesperson A key component of a crisis communication plan is the spokesperson. This firm representative must be prepared to speak with the news media. Anything is better than a “no comment,” because people generally believe that phrase to mean the firm is guilty and is trying to hide something. The spokesperson should be briefed about the latest crisis information and the main message points the firm is trying to convey. No matter what the crisis is, the best way to handle it is to respond to journalists, and to do so in a timely manner. Ignoring the media is a huge mistake. Off the record In today’s world of 24/7 news, blogs, Twitter and YouTube, nothing is “off the record.” If you don’t want information released to the public during a crisis or any other situation, then it’s best to withhold it. Well-meaning reporters may unintentionally include sensitive information in their news reports. This could actually intensify the crisis and send it to an entirely new and damaging level. Pre-drafted messages Crisis managers can pre-draft messages that can be used during virtually any crisis. The prepared messages can be inserted into news releases and websites. The templates have blank areas where the key information can be inserted when the information is revealed. Valuable time is saved during a crisis when prior thought and planning has gone into the pre-crisis plan, a plan you hope may never have to be implemented. The bottom line Once these pieces are in place, conduct a “tornado drill” consisting of one or more crisis scenarios, ideally when things are slow around the office. Also, supplement your in-house team by bringing outside advisors, especially those who will communicate with the media. Ultimately, each media inquiry should be viewed as an opportunity to be embraced – if you are properly prepared for a crisis.
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