Our Managing Partner Tim Maltin speaks at TL4’s The Media Disputes: Defamation, Privacy & Reputation Management Forum

Our Managing Partner Tim Maltin presented today on litigation PR, as part of TL4’s panel ‘Navigating Client Reputation Management: Combined PR and Legal Considerations’, at ‘The Media Disputes: Defamation, Privacy & Reputation Management Forum’.

Tim was joined by Claire Gill, Partner at Carter-Ruck; Dan Tench, Partner at CMS; and Kate Miller, Partner at DRD Partnership. The panel was moderated by Gideon Benaim, Partner and Head of the Reputation Protection team at Simkins LLP.

Topics of discussion included avenues to justice minimising reputational damage; advocating for clients in the court of public opinion; developing online strategies for clients throughout and following disputes; and managing reputation internationally in a 24/7 media eco-system.

Amongst other things, Kate spoke on the media landscape, including its trends and challenges and how to deal with them. Claire discussed pre-publication intervention and the key considerations that are made when approached by a client. Dan explored the regulatory and legal landscape, including the changes on the horizon from a legal and regulatory perspective that will impact those operating in the reputational sector.

Tim then spoke about litigation PR, and made the following key points:

  • The importance at the outset of balancing matter value with reputational considerations
  • Open justice means that litigation has the potential to shine lights into all corners of your business – increased trend of information warfare around litigation
  • Too often clients will litigate on matter A, without properly considering how that might impact their reputation, or factor B – for this reason comms need to be considered and brought in early
  • It is vital for PR teams to work very closely with the client and the legal teams
  • The need to anticipate both the legal and comms strategies of the other side in litigation
  • Consider proactive or reactive media strategy. In practice the two are very similar, because both require having your ducks in a row at the outset – it is just a matter of deploying first, or immediately upon the opening salvo from the other side, to turn the narrative around and shape the discourse
  • The importance of being on the front foot as soon as a claim is filed
  • Consider: what are the key pieces of evidence you will deploy and when? What are likely to be the other side’s favourite pieces of evidence? How and when might they deploy these? How will we neutralise/rebut?
  • Early CMC’s can be a major comms battleground
  • Pre-trial settlement PR often deployed by weaker party
  • The importance of sharing skeleton arguments with journalists as soon as your barrister is on their feet, highlighting the key points in your argument
  • Build long-term relationships with journalists before and throughout litigations; and sit by the door so you can brief them further after they leave the courtroom!
  • Be accurate and helpful to court reporters at all times…
  • Trumpet your court successes outside the courtroom to bring public opinion along with you
  • Following bad days in court, focus on the positives – the points you won…or even the appeal!
  • On judgment hand-down be first to the microphone to control the narrative

Thanks to Claire, Dan, Kate and Gideon for a stimulating and thought-provoking discussion on the fast-changing landscape of media, reputation and the law.