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The World and Bad Publicity For Lawyers Didn’t End

Dec. 21 is long gone, and the world didn’t end, as the Mayans supposedly predicted. Even though that day is history and people have continued their routines, I still think the topic is interesting, especially when attorneys are involved. I read about one attorney in the article “UFO lovers, light-seekers and lawyers await Maya end of days”, by Alexandra Alper, who got caught up in the hype because she traveled to Mexico from Brazil to see how the world would change on that day. She seemed sincerely inspired and impressed when she saw people meditating around her, and the other participants were excited, too.

I can understand why people would want to go there, especially if they’re younger and want some kind of adventure, but I was surprised an attorney would take the event so seriously. Once her pilgrimage was over and she went back to Brazil, what did her clients and coworkers think? It seems like it would tarnish her professional image, not just for believing what others were calling a “hoax,” but whom she was hanging around with as well. Some people were expecting UFOs there, and others saw this as part of their lifelong quest. Since the attorney was quoted along with the others, it didn’t really add up to good publicity for her. Instead, attorneys should be associated with credible people to have a good public image.

An example of negative associations can be found right here in Chicago with the Drew Peterson trial. His attorneys have publicly battled each other with charges of unethical conduct and mishandling of the case. The most recent incident is calling the police over a threatening email. At this point, with all the media coverage of that case and the attorneys’ problems with each other, their reputation has certainly suffered. When it comes to publicity, a good public image should be the goal, not publicity for publicity’s sake.

It’s important to make sure that your reputation is solid, and if anything is going to be shared publicly about a case or your firm, get approval, and find out if there are any people or situations involved that may cause problems. For instance, if a reporter wants to quote you or someone else at your firm, find out if you are allowed to talk and how much you can divulge about a case. After all, you shouldn’t become guilty by association or do something that will make you look bad.

This blog post first appeared in Chicago Lawyer Magazine’s blog.

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What Can Attorneys Learn from Cremation?

Sometimes when we’re doing publicity, we might be afraid to mention the unmentionable. Like death: it makes us squeamish and fearful. And cremation doesn’t fare any better. After all, how many times have you heard the word and thought, “What a great promotional opportunity”?


Yet that’s what the Cremation Society of Illinois did: they had an open house and invited Barbara Brotman from the Chicago Tribune to do a story about it called “Crematorium holds open house to demystify process.” When I saw it I was thrilled, not because it’s such a positive, feel-good topic, but because it’s a great way for attorneys to learn about dealing with unsavory topics when they need to deal with the media.

Attorneys are often afraid to talk about problems that they’re having with a case, so they’re tempted to say “no comment” to keep themselves and their clients safe. Even though attorneys don’t intend to sound dishonest, such a comment can come off as negative and make it seem as if they’re covering up something. So the best thing to do is to tell your own bad news quickly and succinctly.

For instance, if there’s been a personnel issue at your firm, you could say something such as, “We have a clear policy that respects all people. We’re aware of the problem and want to look into it.” Or, if the media has been misrepresenting the facts about a case that you’ve been working on, you can contact them and correct the information while still maintaining your professionalism. This is one of the ways that you can present the truth so that your side of the story will be considered.

 

The Cremation Society held the open house to demystify a gruesome topic. Attorneys can also demystify the legal process to let the public know that they have nothing to hide. What’s important is thinking about how what you say in the media will affect your case and your reputation.   

This public relations tip first appeared in Chicago Lawyer Magazine’s blog

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When is Being Red and Fat a Sign of Good Health?

Christmas is around the corner, and as usual, we’ve been inundated with Santa Claus. Actually, I’ve seen Santa Claus around since I was a kid, so he’s been with me pretty much my whole life. When I think of Santa, a fat, round, red guy comes to mind, and not a spokesperson for healthy living. 

Yet AARP created an interesting twist with Santa by making a list of why he’s actually healthy in “Claus and Effect”. Have you ever thought of Santa as being the picture of health? I sure haven’t, but AARP has come up with some ways we can be inspired by him so that we can be healthy too. The tips include generosity (“hand out toys”), sitting less (“climbing chimneys”), and having a pet (“get a reindeer”). 

It just goes to show that everything old can become new again if we learn to repackage something. So as you run around stressed out and enjoying treats, think of Santa. If he can be considered healthy, then we can too. And it’s also a good time to think about how you can reinvent your media message to be fresh and ready for the new year.
 
Merry Christmas!