Author: Neil Rose

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Black Letter Communications Blog

Expert pr advice for the legal sector

Did you know that 42% of Brits admit they cannot remember the last time they laughed out loud, while 32% believe they haven’t as much as giggled in the last month? Well, it’s true, according to Sky TV last year. How about that 51% of people consider a Jaffa Cake to be a biscuit and only 38% see it as a cake ? Journalists love a survey. It’s easy, often eye-catching copy that pretty much writes itself. For that reason, those looking for publicity love a survey too – it can hammer home a message, be an understandable way into a difficult or staid topic, or show you’re a bit of fun.

Part of life as a journalist is going up to people in a social setting and someone laughing, “Oh, careful what you say now! He’s going to quote you!” To which I always reply, with a forced smile: “Don’t worry, you’re off the record.” The whole business of ‘off the record’, ‘unattributable’ and ‘on background’ is a murky one because these phrases can mean slightly different things to different people. There’s no industry standard as such. So, a key legal PR tip is that, if you are giving a journalist information that you don’t want them to quote you saying, be very clear in advance about the basis on which you are speaking and how your words can be used, if at all.

Even by the standards of government press releases, the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) recent announcement  of the whiplash reforms going live was a masterclass of misleading propaganda. Of course the MoJ was going to put as positive a spin on the changes as it could and it was depressing to see how media like the Press Association, BBC and Sky News simply regurgitated the press release, with a bit of extra comment from insurers thrown in.

Can anything stop the rise of online client reviews? Many law firms do not like the prospect of clients having their say online about the service they provided – mainly because of the possibility that it could be subverted by malcontents and competitors – but in a world where many turn to Tripadvisor and TrustPilot as a matter of course, it seems inevitable.