PR: What Both Sides of a Lawsuit Can Have in Common

If you’re trying to learn about litigation communications, the best examples won’t be found in the obvious places. Most communications case studies focus on the defendant side of a lawsuit, perhaps rightly so for the important fact finding and nuances of speech necessary to successfully navigate the turbulent waters of crisis communications.

But in the PR business, correctly communicating the plaintiff’s side can be just as important, especially when tragedy has befallen a family or someone’s livelihood has been threatened. Giving a voice to David can sometimes persuade Goliath, or those with more power over Goliath, to right the wrong without leaving it in the hands of a jury.

Just last week, it was my privilege to provide a voice to the “powerless” as we supported an attorney and his client, who after more than a decade of wrongdoing by a large corporate entity, finally got their day in the court of public opinion.

Filing day is always the most important one for the plaintiff, as this is their moment to lead the narrative while the defendant’s team is engaging in important adversity management fundamentals, if they respond publicly at all.

Perhaps unexpectedly, this is also where many of the communications fundamentals are the same. Leading up to filing day, you gather all of the facts. You work with both attorney and client to understand their individual perspectives of the case and the messages they need both media and public to know. You work closely with journalists who want access and to be sure to get all of the facts straight. The plaintiff has an opportunity to shape the narrative of a case, in court and in public. That’s a responsibility we take seriously.

More than once in my career, I have been thanked by the plaintiff of a case for helping them have a voice about the detriment caused to them: parents grieving the harm of a child, adults overcoming fraud and negligence or workers discriminated upon by an employer. And I am thankful, too, they entrusted our team to help them get closer to justice.