According to a report published earlier this month by Black Letter Communications client, Obelisk Support, young lawyers are increasingly attracted to principles- and values-based businesses. Nearly three-quarters of the junior lawyers surveyed as part of the report - World in Motion: why the legal profession cannot stand still - agreed or strongly agreed that they would not join an organisation whose values did not match with their own, even if they were offering more money.
I was fortunate enough to attend the First4Lawyers 15th anniversary celebration in Leeds earlier this month. As I sat listening to the presentations from the First4Lawyers’ board about their journey over the past 15 years, it got me thinking about the role that PR has played in their story, and what makes a successful PR partnership.
The chatter around artificial intelligence has grown a lot louder over the last 12 months since the launch of ChatGPT, the all-singing and dancing robot that’s allegedly coming to take our jobs. A new report by management consultants McKinsey claims that up to 70% of the work that many of us do could soon be automated. Just this month, a Court of Appeal judge admitted asking the “jolly useful” ChatGPT for help in writing a judgment and being satisfied with the answer. But the headlines didn’t tell the full story.
Loose lips sink ships may have been a wartime slogan, but in recent weeks banks NatWest and Coutts have demonstrated that loose lips can sink both careers and reputations. We have seen this story play out slowly and somewhat painfully in the media, with NatWest and Coutts slowly coming to the realisation that they seriously misjudged the situation, the government’s reaction and the reaction of the general public. What may have started as a very run of the mill charity dinner one evening in early July, has turned into a furore that may yet see the resignation of the entire board of one of the country’s biggest banks. So, what happened and what are the PR lessons learned?
Anyone who works in legal PR will be able to tell you the importance of successful judgments for their clients. Such opportunities for positive PR and bountiful coverage do not come along every day, so it is crucial to maximise publicity and get the message out. Historically legal PRs tended to be told the result of the embargoed judgment which allowed them to prepare a press release or statement ready to be sent out the moment the judgment was handed down.
“There are lies that matter and lies that don’t” said Boris Johnson’s former communications adviser Guto Harri on The Newsagents podcast last week when defending his role working for Johnson as further lockdown breaches emerge. Meanwhile Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s aides were found to have repeatedly denied that she had been caught speeding, when asked by Mirror journalists last month, claiming it was “nonsense” and suggested someone was spreading “scurrilous” rumours about her. She has since admitted speeding.
Inspiration for our latest blog this month comes from Simon English, financial editor at the Evening Standard writing for Roxhill. His recent article, A doomed PR tactic, reminded me how, despite the myriad of so-called communications specialists in government, they often get it so spectacularly wrong. English wrote about Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s visit to Rwanda, accompanied by “friendly” journalists only. The chosen few were: The Times, Daily Mail, Express, Telegraph and GB News. Clearly this was an attempt to punish those outlets not in support of the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, and to secure only positive coverage. But, as English pointed out, social media was out in force to hold the government to account.
A week really is a long time in politics. Just ask Gary Lineker. The ex-England footballer and long-time presenter of BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’ found himself temporarily ousted this month after the broadcaster ruled that a tweet about the government’s new controversial migration policy was in breach of its impartiality guidelines. In just over 200 characters, the former face of Walkers crisps sparked an extraordinary, seven-day standoff with the BBC after comparing the language used to describe the policy with that of 1930s Germany. Quite accurately as it turned out.
It began with Megxit. In 2021 the world watched as Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, told all to Oprah Winfrey in what has become an infamous interview. They mooted that they wanted to tell their side of the story, they wanted to tell their truth. A strange expression, ‘my truth’ or ‘your truth’. As children we are taught to tell ‘the truth’. The idea that there can be variations or interpretations on an event, conversation or other is not new. However, adopting it as ‘your truth’ is. Most of us would acknowledge that in the retelling of a story or event, recollections are often skewed in favour of the storyteller. Sometimes this is done consciously and sometime unconsciously, as we naturally view events through our own lens.
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