By now nearly everyone has heard about the “Pink Slime” debate involving Beef Products, Inc. A recent article in the Omaha World Herald discussed BPI’s admitted miscalculation about the publicity its product was receiving. The article suggests that BPI did little to get out in front of the issue by actively combating the misnomer “pink slime” and the information that was being reported about it.
Reading about that reminded me of an American Bar Association article I had read a number of months ago relating to public relations in high profile litigation. The article recounts a continuing education seminar at which lawyers and judges weighed in on dealing with the media in higher profile cases of public interest. The oft noted “24/7” news cycle means that many clients cannot afford to sit idly by while reports about its business are made.
As reported in the article, one of the panel participants, attorney David Boies, gave two primary rules for dealing with the media:
1. You must always be sure that when talking to the press, you are acting in your client’s interest and with your client’s consent.
2. The second ethical duty is to be accurate. Talking to the press is not like talking to a court. But when you’re talking to the press about a case, you have some of the same attributes.
Crafting a well thought out message to the public can not only help in the context of litigation but it can also provide the client with the kind of damage control BPI now laments not doing sooner.