Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Testing a Lawsuit's News Value

Several lawyers have asked me how should they determine the newsworthiness of a particular legal matter. Although each situation is unique, I tell them to consider the following:

Do you or your clients face:
  • Publicity-seeking opponents?
  • A unique or unusual lawsuit?
  • Well-known attorneys or parties?
  • A matter with a large sum of money at stake?
  • A matter involving a current hot media topic?
  • The application of new law, or the new application of old law?
  • A matter where the outcome will have broad implications?
  • A matter with political or regulatory aspects?
  • A matter with a compelling human interest angle?
If the answer to any of these questions is "Yes," I suggest that they consult with their clients to craft a media strategy well in advance of the first media call. Lawyers and clients should work together to develop the basic themes to be communicated and to agree on who will be handling media inquiries over the course of the case.


  1. medora2@vzw.blackberry.netApril 6, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    Thought provoking! What if YOUR client, not the opponent, wants the publicity?

  2. A good question. Both plaintiffs and defendants should understand that a compelling communications strategy, designed to convey a company’s position, is crucial to preserving corporate reputation and achieving business goals. Legal strategy without communications may lead to a courtroom win, but a loss of reputation or trust among key audiences. Both plaintiffs and defendants can benefit from a communications strategy that aligns the company’s legal position with its public positioning.

  3. The significance of reputational risk is often underestimated. You are so right in stressing the importance of linking legal strategy and communications. Taking action without considering the alignment of legal and public positioning can be disastrous, espcially in the strategic talent space. Employees- present, former and future - have long memories.