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"When a public media reporter approaches or phones you, unexpectedly, your SOP will tell you how to handle the questions or interview, what to say, and how much."

Every attorney should have a standard operating plan (an SOP) for handling  press and television reporters interested in the lawsuit the attorney is handling. Before you leave for the courthouse, review your sheet of tips - a quick compact set of public relations tactics for responding to an interview by newspaper and television reporters. Your public relations response tips, your SOP,  must be compact and sensible, easily remembered, and easily followed by you and your client.

Reasons for preparing for the unexpected phone call or court hallway interview:

  • First, when you need to respond to the media, you need to do it NOW, not later, so you need to be prepared.
     
  • Second, you must say something to the reporter. Generally lawyers tell their clients not to talk to the press, and lawyers do not talk to the press themselves. That is wrong, because it is bad for the client. It’s better for your client if you as the lawyer call back, find out what the story is, and then give your side—otherwise your side won’t be in the story. Do not let your opponents frame the case to the public.  The jury and the judge have their expectations set by the media, and that colors their view of the evidence.
     
  • Third, your client expects you to handle those media calls to you in a professional manner.
     
  • Fourth, you will impress clients, even battle-weary corporate executives, if you take the lead in telling them what how to respond to reporters in "our" case.

We have a quick, inexpensive, short list form you can use to educate you and your client for talking to newspaper and TV reporters.   It's an $8 "must have".  It gives you a short and easily memorized mentor's advice in much less time than it would take you to dictate it yourself, even if you were an expert media advisor yourself.

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I suggest you put a copy of our short Media Handling Form in your trial notebook, anytime you have a case that is newsworthy, and anytime that you have a case going to trial.  You will need it for your client's public relations, if a reporter contacts you or your client.  The media is not there to determine the truth. The media is there to sell newspapers, air time, and develop their own sales. Be friendly, but realize they do not regard you as a friend.

Discuss handling of the press with any client before the client gets to the courtroom door. You do not want an unprepared client buttonholed in the corridor by a reporter when you are inside the judge’s chambers.  Use this Media Handling Form to talk with the client before you go to the courtroom.  Think of the form as emotional insurance for both the client and also you!

A note about ethics: A lawyer shall not make an extrajudicial statement that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by means of public communication if the lawyer reasonably should know that it will have a substantial likelihood of prejudicing a trial.

This means that if you are trying to influence the jury by what you are saying, don’t do it. There sometimes is a fine line between seeing that your client does not suffer in the press and influencing the jury, but you will need to not cross that line. Look for that line before you talk.

We are selling How to Handle the Media - Public Relations, now, for only $8. We think these 3+ pages are one of those collections of tips that every lawyer should have ready at hand, before he/she needs it.

You can be prepared when you unexpectedly have to respond to press or TV,

We are selling the TIP3013_Respond to Media, until midnight of  , for only $8.

Use your form today! We deliver electronically --- as the integrated last part of the automated purchase process. As your payment is verified, your browser is automatically redirected to a new webpage with your link to download your purchase. Click as instructed,  and you have the form in your computer. It's that automatic and quick!

Yours truly,

Leonard Bucklin, Civil Trial Attorney


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