PR is all about perception and in legal PR I always risk assess every announcement or press release I do for a client. Did anybody risk assess allowing Andrew – a shamed royal stripped of all public duties because of his past misdemeanors – to be beside the Queen? If they did it was incredibly badly thought out, but if the Queen was advised of the PR backlash and insisted he was by her side anyway, then it shows unbelievable arrogance. Sure enough, the limelight was stolen by Andy’s appearance and the headlines were about him rather than his father.
I can only imagine the hundreds of meetings that must have taken place over the last few weeks as law firms linked to Russia scrambled to craft their response to the crisis unfolding in Ukraine. The unprecedented and devastating scenes of human suffering have sent shockwaves around the world. But firms had little time to strategise before they found themselves painted as villains – ‘enablers’ of Putin’s regime
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.
West Ham coach David Moyes found himself in the spotlight last week for all the wrong reasons. In going ahead with choosing a player (Kurt Zouma) who was filmed kicking his pet cat in front of his children, Moyes gave the following defence: “My job is to try and win for West Ham and to put out the best team for that. My job is to pick the best team for West Ham and Kurt was part of that team”. For a man of Moyes’ experience, and for a club the size of West Ham, both really should have anticipated what happened next.
You don’t need to be Greta Thunberg to realise that law firms failing to do their bit for the planet just isn’t acceptable, let alone good legal PR, anymore. Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher found this out earlier this month after hitting the headlines when eco law students launched a boycott of the firm for “shielding corporate polluters from climate accountability”. The pledge was made by members of Law Students for Climate Responsibility (LSCA), a US-based group that collates a ‘scorecard’ for law firms on how much they contribute to climate change
Black Friday, the US import that sees the retail sector slash prices on one of the biggest shopping days of the year, appears to have been adopted by a number of law firms. Last week’s annual discount day saw Manak Solicitors, based in Dartford, advertising 10% off conveyancing, fixed family work, wills or immigration services for any client who quoted ‘Black Friday 2021’ before 31 January.
In a post-pandemic world in the grips of a climate change crisis, job seekers with the luxury of choosing where they work have decided they want more - and it’s not just about the money. As well as perks like private healthcare and flexible working, a growing number of environmentally conscious candidates are asking firms to prove their eco-credentials as well. If you’re a law firm looking to attract and retain talent, going green might seem like an easy win – but it’s not as straightforward as it sounds.
One way businesses can prove that they are doing the right thing is to get B Corporation certification. This isn’t the second team of the Avengers but a badge for for-profit businesses that meet “the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose”. The B stands for ‘Benefit’. You may be surprised – or not – to hear that just three law firms in the UK currently have B Corp status. Despite many a law firm heralding their pro bono work or their quest for justice, very few have followed up their press releases about putting the world to rights with actually becoming B Corp.
Building an effective LinkedIn profile is vital for anyone working in legal services. Not only is it an important networking tool, it also gives you an opportunity to showcase your skills and expertise, building your reputation and attracting new clients. Most of us have a decent LinkedIn profile detailing our experience and job roles but how many legal professionals are truly active on the platform? Whether it’s time pressures or not knowing what you should be posting, many are not making best use LinkedIn – if you are not active you won’t appear regularly or highly in searches when users type in the keywords you are targeting or on users’ news feed.
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