The jury is in! Virginia Lawyers Weekly Magazine has informed us that we were voted as the winner of its 2019 Reader’s Poll, taking first place in the “Public Relations Firms” category.
But we’re not a legal marketing firm, so why would we receive the recognition?
While we have, over the years, been tasked with completing a handful of projects to promote firms or their attorneys, the real evidence of this award comes through law firms around the country asking us to assist its clients with crisis management and crisis communications.
“Brian and his team are true partners when our firm has a client that is in a crisis situation or anticipating one,” said Braxton Hill, partner with Christian & Barton, LLP in Richmond. “They are smart, strategic and know how to work alongside legal counsel. I’m not surprised that they are receiving this award and its well deserved.”
While our firm, Commonwealth Public Relations, has always offered crisis management and communication services for a wide array of industries, the request to support law firms’ clients has increased over the last few years.
Along with a lot of work in Virginia, we have handled crisis communications as far away as Alaska, North Dakota and Texas. Crisis issues have been everything from sensitive real estate matters, the death of an employee or customer, or event managing the reputation of a company after a white-collar crime has been alleged.
I’m striving to hit the ranks of Edelman in terms of the awareness of our crisis communications and reputation management work, and much of it is coming through law firms. It’s a big goal but can be achieved based on our track record and multiple Public Relations Society of America awards for our crisis work, often taking the top spot in the category.
So, what makes us different?
My experience in the public relations field goes back for more than 20 years. I can remember when PR and legal would clash in their counsel on how a crisis should be handled. Even six or seven years ago it was common for legal departments to shut down any PR strategy that pushed for openness and transparency, but that’s not the case today.
Sure, there are times when a company should operate behind the scenes and not bring attention to a crisis issue that is either about to arise or has already hit. However, today’s 24/7 news cycle and prevalence of social media demand transparency and openness from not only major brands but smaller businesses as well.
In most cases, companies will get eaten alive by bad press in the news and on social media if they don’t anticipate and plan for strategic communication during a crisis. I believe lawyers have recognized this and it’s why they are asking us to support their clients during these difficult times.
Additionally, we’ve heard attorneys say that to prevent liability, their clients need a crisis plan that includes communications and allows a company to demonstrate that they had something in place for how to handle different situations. On multiple occasions, law firms have asked us to develop these plans for their clients. It’s another service that law firms appreciate, and one we are experienced at bringing to the table.
The clock is ticking, and it’s only a matter of time before one of your clients experiences a crisis. Let have a conversation about your firm and its clients, or your company, if you think a crisis is about to happen. It doesn’t have to be on the clock, either.
I’ve blocked off time on Mondays at 2 p.m., Wednesdays at 3 p.m. and Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. to conduct short introductory calls with law firms and companies. Click here to email me the date and time you are interested and we’ll set it up.