"Attorneys Should Use the Court of Public Opinion" says Publicist Scott Lorenz

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Winning or losing in the court of public opinion can be just as important as what happens in the halls of justice. Lawyers and their clients need to develop litigation media relations strategies as part of their overall litigation support weapons.

Plymouth, MI (PRWEB) Winning or losing in the court of public opinion can be just as important as what happens in the halls of justice. Lawyers and their clients need to develop litigation media relations strategies as part of their overall litigation support weapons.

Especially when lawyers are involved in high-profile litigation, communications strategies need to be included in the arsenal.

Scott Lorenz, president of Westwind Communications, stresses that a litigation media relations plan is important for any law firm because:

  • It may help to attract more business to the firm.
  • It would establish the veracity of the claim in the mind of the public
  • It could manage the reputation of a client during the trial.
  • It will help expand the number of litigants in a class action suit

"I will work with the media to help them understand the lawsuit and assist media personnel in gathering of information, quotes, photos, and other material so that the final published story reflects the position of the client," explains Lorenz.

"Media is a tool in your bag," adds Lorenz, "You've got to use it. If you don't know how, or don't have the time, contact a public relations professional to help. Find one by searching the Web under topics such as 'litigation support' or 'litigation media relations.' A public relations person will take the case, distill it form a legal document and put it into language understood by the common man. The salient points will be crystallized, thus creating an angle that will be appealing to the media."

Lorenz, a public relations and marketing consultant, has a special knack for working with lawyers and their clients to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz has handled public relations and marketing for numerous lawyers, doctors, authors, inventors, and entrepreneurs since 1980 and is an integral part of the marketing strategy for many firms.

Any lawsuit must compete for attention in the "hard news" slot and so it must be compelling and people need to care about it. "On a tour of the Detroit News a couple of years ago," says Lorenz, "I asked to be taken to the mailroom. There I saw 20 giant four foot tall mailbags that come into the mailroom every day. All I could think of was how many thousands of press releases were in that pile, and how the odds of any one of them seeing the light of day were not good." If your press release is in that pile, you want your story to get to the top of the heap."

Public relations professionals also have built up contacts in the media, who trust them for story ideas, and will know where to pitch a certain type of story.

A comprehensive litigation media relations program to enhance your litigation support and get maximum exposure for high-profile litigation should include:

  •     Developing an overall communications strategy
  •     Preparing key talking points and key messages
  •     Preparing and distributing press releases and support material
  •     Analyzing the dynamics of a case from a media perspective
  •     Helping the media at every opportunity to present your client's side of the story
  •     Handling local and national media relations, and monitoring that coverage for accuracy
  •     Training clients in effective media relations

Remember that you cannot count on the press to be aggressive in seeking out both sides because the media will tell the story with whatever information is available before deadline. The media-savvy lawyer, or his representative, will pursue the media and make sure their side of the story is told.

Among the examples of litigation support provided by Westwind Communications are:

    Glass Choice vs. AAA of Michigan. Westwind Communications represented Glass Choice, an association of Auto Glass companies in their lawsuit against AAA of Michigan, the largest auto insurer in the state. Westwind Communications obtained numerous media placements in publications such as the Detroit News, Jackson Citizen Patriot, the Grosse Pointe News as well as an undercover investigation by the NBC affiliate in Detroit, WDIV-TV-4. The very successful campaign brought to the attention of the public the unsavory practice of "steering" by an insurance company. The media coverage also brought extra pressure to bear on AAA as its reputation was damaged by the media reports. The client credited the media coverage for assisting in the movement of the case.

    Mark & Jean Gordanier in their lawsuit against the City of Farmington Hills, Michigan. Their claim was that their local fire department was at fault for extra damages to their home because they could not find the home due to outdated maps and poor training. Westwind Communications generated media coverage that embarrassed the City of Farmington Hills including placements in the Associated Press, a live 3 minute interview on the ABC affiliate in Detroit, WXYZ-7, interviews on WWJ News Radio-95 and in the Oakland Press and the Observer Eccentric Newspaper.

    Terry Cochran is an Attorney and Partner in the law firm of Cochran, Foley & Associates, a Livonia, Michigan based firm specializing in personal injury. The relationship began after he read an article written by Scott Lorenz in the March 2001 issue of Lawyer's Weekly called, Effectively Using Media Relations In Litigation. Cochran contacted Westwind Communications to discuss the promotion of the firm. Westwind Communications has been under a monthly retainer agreement since that time for the marketing and promotion of Cochran, Foley & Associates. Media highlights include 20-plus appearances on FOX-2 Detroit's Legal Briefs, articles about cases won in the Detroit News, Television appearances on the Detroit NBC affiliate WDIV-4 and regular submissions to Lawyer's Weekly.

    Engate vs. Esquire, et. al. Westwind Communications assisted Esquire Deposition Services, LCC, a national court reporting agency, in litigation support involving a lawsuit in which Engate accused Esquire and other court reporting agencies of infringing patents on realtime court reporting software features. When Esquire countered by filing a lawsuit asking that the patents be declared invalid, Westwind Communications issued a press release the day the motion was filed. Articles were prepared to target court reporters, attorneys, and software companies so Esquire's message would be clearly communicated to diverse audiences. Complicated legal issues were distilled to be understood by reporters, editors, and assigning editors.

Lorenz will use one approach when pitching national media, producers and assistant producers of national television shows, and a different approach when promoting books via the radio or Internet. "Each media outlet has a ¡¥public' they must communicate with and each have different needs that must be met," says Lorenz.

Westwind Communications' clients have been featured by Good Morning America, CNN, ABC Nightly News, The New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Investor's Business Daily, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Family Circle, Woman's World, and Entrepreneur, to name a few.

To discuss how Westwind Communications helps lawyers get all the publicity they deserve and more, contact scottlorenz@westwindcos.com call 734-667-2090 or visit: http://www.westwindcos.com

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