Media Relations:
When the Press
Comes Knocking
A Discussion of
Litigation & Crisis
Communications
California Contract Citi...
The Basics of
Crisis Management
What is a Crisis?
         A Period of Possible or Real Damage to a
          Municipality, Company, Business, or Brand
 ...
A Crisis May be Caused by
        Natural Disaster
        External Criminal Elements-Bombs, Computer
         Hacking, ...
A Crisis May be Caused by
        Legal or Other Government Action - Investigations,
         Regulations, Law Enforcemen...
Bad Things Can Happen
to Good Municipalities:
        Kickback Scandals
        Vendor Scandals
        Dateline NBC, 2...
Why Practice Smart
Crisis Management?
        Smart Crisis Management, Along With a Good Legal
         Strategy, Is Far ...
You Have a Crisis When …
        You See It
        Or You Hear About It From
           Employees

           Vendors...
How do City Attorneys fit in?
         Attorneys are always the first people City officials
          calls when a crisis...
How Can I Tell a
Crisis from an Issue?
      An issue is a controversy, generally characterized by:
       Early warnings...
How Can I Tell a
Crisis from an Issue?
      A crisis is generally characterized by:
       Imminent threat to ”business ...
Crisis Levels
         Manageable - Limited Impact, Limited Public
          Disclosure. The Fire Is Out, Minimal Damage....
Crisis Levels
         Full-blown - The Fire Is Out but the Key City Facility
          or Operation Is Disabled; Allegat...
Can We Predict a Crisis?
         Yes and No
         No - Accidents Will Happen
         Yes - A Crisis Is More Likely...
Why Worry? Who Cares?
        High Profile Municipalities Are More
         Susceptible to Some Crises
        Bad Thing...
What We Know
       Cities Which, When Appropriate, Openly and
        Quickly Share the Facts With the Public, Fare
    ...
Successes
              TYLENOL TAMPERING: We Care, We Act
              PEPSI NEEDLES: TV Cameras Reveal the Hoax; B-Ro...
Crisis Management
        Anticipation and Prevention
        Preparation
        Incident Management/Legal
        Po...
Remember This:
Good Plans and Intentions
Can Be Stalled or Killed by
         Bureaucracy
         Lack of involvement o...
In a Crisis, Long Term
Reputation Will Be Affected By
        The Municipality’s Goodwill Reserve
        Actions
      ...
Communication
is Fundamental!



                  21
Special Concerns
     Employees                      Media and The Public
     Does it affect my work?        Who
     Doe...
Above all People Need:
        Facts
        Information And Assurances in Dealing with
         Residents
        To K...
It is Important to be Careful
on How You Comment on:
    Pending Litigation                Security Issues
    Rumors o...
The Basics of
Litigation
Communication


                25
What is Litigation
Communication?
      •   Communicating complex litigation issues so that
          they are understanda...
The Court of Public Opinion
   Public relations during litigation       Even if you win a case, there is no
    should b...
Three Questions You Should
Ask About Your Cases
     1) Will/can this case attract public attention?
     2) Can public op...
Pro-active Litigation
Communication
         Prior to filing litigation or when litigation is
          expected.

      ...
Reactive Litigation
Communication
         Sometimes you need to manage media relations
          after the city is sued ...
Basics of Litigation
Communication
         News Releases
         News Conferences
         Community Outreach
      ...
News Releases

        Should be drafted by a public relations professional
         with input from counsel.
        Sh...
News Conferences

        Must present a compelling reason for media to
     .
     .   cover litigation.
        May fo...
Media Relations

        Often, a good compelling story isn’t enough.
        Knowing what each media needs/wants is alm...
Governmental Interest

        By working with other governmental officials, you
         may be able to have hearings, p...
Case Study
News Release
        A lawsuit was filed against a police department
         from a female officer stating th...
Case Study
News Release
        The news release was picked up by the Los Angeles
         Times, the Pasadena Star-News ...
Case Study
News Conferences
        Numerous police officers filed a lawsuit claiming
         years of race and gender-b...
Case Study
     Full Media Campaign (For a City)
   Two people died and 12 others           City officials immediately
 ...
Case Study
        We provided key reporters and editors with factual
         information showing that the state had bee...
Scenarios/discussions
How would you respond to an employee union labor
negotiation complaint when they take their position
to the media What sho...
How to control the media when you have an ongoing
or reoccurring issue Every time the weather predicts
rain, the media sho...
Concluding
Discussion/Questions
Media Relations: When The Press Come Knocking_Rose
Media Relations: When The Press Come Knocking_Rose
Media Relations: When The Press Come Knocking_Rose
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Media Relations: When The Press Come Knocking_Rose

  1. 1. Media Relations: When the Press Comes Knocking A Discussion of Litigation & Crisis Communications California Contract Cities Association 1
  2. 2. The Basics of Crisis Management
  3. 3. What is a Crisis?  A Period of Possible or Real Damage to a Municipality, Company, Business, or Brand  Crises Are Triggered by a Sudden Event or a Long- Smoldering Issue  The Crisis May Affect Financial Stability, Reputation or the Ability to Conduct Business  Legal issue 3
  4. 4. A Crisis May be Caused by  Natural Disaster  External Criminal Elements-Bombs, Computer Hacking, Kidnapping, Terrorism  Employee Acts - Intentional or Unintentional - Sabotage; Accidents; Sexual or Racial Discrimination or Harassment; Violence; Violations of Law or litigation 4
  5. 5. A Crisis May be Caused by  Legal or Other Government Action - Investigations, Regulations, Law Enforcement  Market or Financial Actions - Including Stock Market Decline  Product Defects  Special Interest Group Opposition - Protests, Boycotts  Sudden Management Changes 5
  6. 6. Bad Things Can Happen to Good Municipalities:  Kickback Scandals  Vendor Scandals  Dateline NBC, 20/20, 60 Minutes  Faulty manufacturers  Activities by Elected Officials and/or employees
  7. 7. Why Practice Smart Crisis Management?  Smart Crisis Management, Along With a Good Legal Strategy, Is Far Simpler Than Rebuilding a Damaged Reputation  Bad News Travels Fast  Media Thrive on Bad News  Preserve City Reputation 7
  8. 8. You Have a Crisis When …  You See It  Or You Hear About It From  Employees  Vendors  City Attorney  Other Government Officials  Law Enforcement Officials  Whistleblowers  News Media  Internet Sites and Chat Rooms 8
  9. 9. How do City Attorneys fit in?  Attorneys are always the first people City officials calls when a crisis occurs.  A strong legal strategy is important and may influence many other key decisions regarding the crisis management strategy.  Lawyers are often the cooler heads, realizing that a crisis management strategy may be necessary.
  10. 10. How Can I Tell a Crisis from an Issue? An issue is a controversy, generally characterized by:  Early warnings through any number of sources – e.g., activist groups, legal claims, government investigations, research announcements, etc.  Sufficient time to develop strategies and steps which may solve the problem before it escalates to a crisis.  No immediate harm or disruption to city business 10
  11. 11. How Can I Tell a Crisis from an Issue? A crisis is generally characterized by:  Imminent threat to ”business as usual”  Imminent threat to the municipality's reputation  Media attention – either immediate or potential  Possible harm to individuals or property 11
  12. 12. Crisis Levels  Manageable - Limited Impact, Limited Public Disclosure. The Fire Is Out, Minimal Damage.  Smoldering - No Widespread Immediate Impact, but Must Be Monitored. The Fire Is Out, but We Do Not Know the Cause.  Limited - Some City Impact, Confined to one City Operation, Investigation Underway. 12
  13. 13. Crisis Levels  Full-blown - The Fire Is Out but the Key City Facility or Operation Is Disabled; Allegations of Criminality, Threat to Public Safety or Aggressive Opposition to City Position. Could Have Financial Impact, Filing of Serious Criminal or Civil Charges and/or electoral repercussions. 13
  14. 14. Can We Predict a Crisis?  Yes and No  No - Accidents Will Happen  Yes - A Crisis Is More Likely If We:  Do Not Push for Perfection  Do Not Listen  Violate Laws and City Policies 14
  15. 15. Why Worry? Who Cares?  High Profile Municipalities Are More Susceptible to Some Crises  Bad Things Do Happen to Good Cities 15
  16. 16. What We Know  Cities Which, When Appropriate, Openly and Quickly Share the Facts With the Public, Fare Better Than Those That Do Not  Cities Which Accept Blame When They Are at Fault Fare Better Than Those Who Deny or Are Quick to Blame Others  Cities Which Show They Care About Their Residents Fare Better Than Those Who Don’t  The Key Messages That Work:  Concern  Commitment  Explanation of Actions 16
  17. 17. Successes  TYLENOL TAMPERING: We Care, We Act  PEPSI NEEDLES: TV Cameras Reveal the Hoax; B-Roll Illustrates Production  BIC LIGHTERS AND KIDS: Creating the Childproof Lighter/Teaching Fire Safety Failures EXXON VALDEZ: Where Was the Leadership? UNION CARBIDE BHOPAL AND WEST VIRGINIA: What? Is There a Problem? INTEL DEFECTIVE CHIP: Just 1 in a Million Chance You Will Lose All Data FORD/FIRESTONE: Whose fault is it anyway? 17
  18. 18. Crisis Management  Anticipation and Prevention  Preparation  Incident Management/Legal  Post-Incident Analysis  Continuous Improvement  Recovery  It’s Over! Focus on Goals Solve the Problem Prevent Panic/Reduce Tension Control Flow of Information/Control Rumors Preserve Reputation 18
  19. 19. Remember This: Good Plans and Intentions Can Be Stalled or Killed by  Bureaucracy  Lack of involvement of counsel and public relations professionals  Endless meetings and conference calls  Poorly defined -- or nonexistent -- goals
  20. 20. In a Crisis, Long Term Reputation Will Be Affected By  The Municipality’s Goodwill Reserve  Actions  Design changes  Management changes  Community efforts  Communications  Speed  Openness  Facts  Concern
  21. 21. Communication is Fundamental! 21
  22. 22. Special Concerns Employees Media and The Public Does it affect my work? Who Does it affect my job? What Why Does it affect my health or When safety? Where What can I say to my family? How Friends? Customers? 22
  23. 23. Above all People Need:  Facts  Information And Assurances in Dealing with Residents  To Know They Work Or Live in a Reliable, Safe City  To Know That Safety Comes First What you say  Must be true  Must ring true to you  Must convince and enlighten your constituents 23
  24. 24. It is Important to be Careful on How You Comment on:  Pending Litigation  Security Issues  Rumors of Potential Changes  Travel Plans of Senior in personnel Government officials  Rumors of Layoffs  Suppliers or Vendors  Geopolitical Events/ Foreign  Speculation or Prediction Affairs 24
  25. 25. The Basics of Litigation Communication 25
  26. 26. What is Litigation Communication? • Communicating complex litigation issues so that they are understandable, tangible and compelling to targeted laymen audiences. • Formulating litigation communications strategy before filing, previewing potential outcomes to key audiences, thereby shaping an environment favorable to the client. • Preparing post-verdict communications strategies to publicize favorable verdicts, diminish unfavorable verdicts and present clients and their attorneys in the best possible light.
  27. 27. The Court of Public Opinion  Public relations during litigation  Even if you win a case, there is no should be handled with the same guarantee that the media and/or seriousness and care as any other the public will perceive it as a win. aspect of a case.  On the flip side, even if you lose a  Increasingly, the issues case, there was ways to make sure underpinning legal battles are the verdict does not affect the debated – and decided – in the larger public opinion of the city or court of public opinion long before elected officials. attorneys see the inside of a courtroom.
  28. 28. Three Questions You Should Ask About Your Cases 1) Will/can this case attract public attention? 2) Can public opinion be shaped to benefit the City? 3) How can I manage public opinion to benefit the taxpayers?
  29. 29. Pro-active Litigation Communication  Prior to filing litigation or when litigation is expected.  Allows the city and attorneys to manage the issue and shape the media’s perception.  Catches the other side unaware and puts them on the defensive.
  30. 30. Reactive Litigation Communication  Sometimes you need to manage media relations after the city is sued or word leaks that they may be sued.  Sometimes, communications are most important after a verdict is reached in order to minimize the extent of the damages.
  31. 31. Basics of Litigation Communication  News Releases  News Conferences  Community Outreach  Media Relations  Op-Ed Pieces  Governmental Interest
  32. 32. News Releases  Should be drafted by a public relations professional with input from counsel.  Should explain the facts and the city’s position in terms understandable to laypersons so reporters can convey this information accurately  Should have at least two “quotable quotes” and may provide a photograph to heighten reader and viewer interest.
  33. 33. News Conferences  Must present a compelling reason for media to . . cover litigation.  May force early settlement to avoid negative press coverage.  Get Community leaders and residents either in support of your issue or against the other side  Helpful in swaying the media and providing sound bites that come from others
  34. 34. Media Relations  Often, a good compelling story isn’t enough.  Knowing what each media needs/wants is almost as important as what the story will be.  Television news requires more soundbites, better visuals. Op-eds  May help influence decision makers and the media.  Can push settlement.
  35. 35. Governmental Interest  By working with other governmental officials, you may be able to have hearings, press conferences or legislation that supports the general tenets of your position.  May force settlement by making a lose-lose situation for other side.
  36. 36. Case Study News Release  A lawsuit was filed against a police department from a female officer stating that the police department has allowed supervisory personnel to engage in blatantly illegal sexual harassment and intimidation.  The client was repeatedly subjected to improper comments about her clothing and body and that one supervisor named in the lawsuit suggested the client could trade time off for sexual favors. That same supervisor would look directly into the client’s chest while speaking to her.  We released a news release stating the facts set forth in the complaint, detailing these actions of the department and the supervising officer.
  37. 37. Case Study News Release  The news release was picked up by the Los Angeles Times, the Pasadena Star-News and other media outlets, resulting in numerous positive news stories which echoed the news release.  Following the news stories, people called the reporters who had written the articles based on the news release and stated that the co-defendant (the supervising officer) had been previously convicted of soliciting a prostitute and later had his record expunged.  A news story the following day laid out these new facts, further helping to spread the story and influence the actions of both the plaintiff and the defendants.
  38. 38. Case Study News Conferences  Numerous police officers filed a lawsuit claiming years of race and gender-based harassment, discrimination and retaliation. The police department immediately placed a gag order on all of the plaintiffs.  Working with the police officers’ legal team, a communications theme was created and news articles were successfully placed in all local papers and received lengthy television coverage of the press conference.  In addition, there was press coverage of the gag order itself, which succeeded in framing public opinion upon filing of the lawsuit and putting the police department on the defensive in responding to both the complaint and the attendant media coverage of the allegations.
  39. 39. Case Study Full Media Campaign (For a City)  Two people died and 12 others  City officials immediately were injured when a runaway car expressed outraged that numerous demands to the state carrier slammed into a bookstore to immediately address the and coffeehouse. Six months prior significant safety issues of out of to the accident, the driver of control trucks ignored and another truck carrying 70,000 offered her sympathies to the family and friends of the two pounds of onions lost control near people killed in the collision. the same spot, but injuries were  Our challenge was to not so devastating. City immediately set out the facts immediately engaged in crisis and get the state to address the communications to make sure the issues the city had previously raised. public had the facts.
  40. 40. Case Study  We provided key reporters and editors with factual information showing that the state had been put on notice and that warnings were ignored.  Provided reporters with a timeline and key documents.  We made city officials available to reporters, quickly organized a news conference with local and state officials.  The City did not operate on a 9-5 clock - when reporters called the state for comment - there was no immediate response to messages left after the close of business hours .
  41. 41. Scenarios/discussions
  42. 42. How would you respond to an employee union labor negotiation complaint when they take their position to the media What should your response be to a call for comment? How to respond to the media when a City employee has committed a serious crime (You receive a call that an employee was involved in a (1) murder (2) charged with embezzlement (3) accused of pedophilia. What should your response be to a call for comment?
  43. 43. How to control the media when you have an ongoing or reoccurring issue Every time the weather predicts rain, the media shows up requesting information on what your City is doing to prepare. What steps would you take to help the media with frequent and recurring requests? How to present a financial crisis of the City What would you say to the media so they don’t paint the City leaders as incompetent or having poor oversight?. What is your response to a call for comment?
  44. 44. Concluding Discussion/Questions

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