Is Michael Jackson the New John Kennedy?

You never know who’s going to be brought into the blame game. Earlier this month, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), which was responsible for promoting Michael Jackson’s concerts, was found not liable for his deathaccording to Hannah Karp and Eric Schwartzel in the Wall Street Journal. AEG hired Doctor Conrad Murray as Jackson’s personal doctor, and even though he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter a couple of years ago, that guilty verdict didn’t affect them. They’re probably relieved though the family didn’t get the money they sued for (over one billion dollars).

Michael Jackson’s death has gone from being a tragic event to a growing conspiracy, almost like he’s the new John F. Kennedy. They died in different ways, but the public’s fascination with what happened is strong, and so is the family’s anger. We still don’t know the complete truth, though it was proven in court that the doctor wasn’t found incompetent, which cleared AEG from any wrongdoing.

It just goes to show how a story can become a public relations crisis,creating a net that scoops up various people, even if they weren’t directly involved. This could happen to you, too, even if you’re not working with a celebrity. You just have to be careful about what is reported and if people will be able to find out the truth. You might think you or your company is far enough away from a situation to not be affected, but a crisis can still occur. You may have done nothing wrong, but an employee could have, and you might be implicated in what they’ve done. It’s best to be prepared, such as deciding who the spokesperson will be, what your message is, and how you develop relationships with the media. I’ve talked in the past about crisis communications (see the slides here) and also did a presentation about what to do right after something bad

If you’ve had to deal with a crisis, feel free to share tips in the comments below.


Smart Lawyers, Dumb Public Relations

Attorneys tend to be very careful, scrutinize information and documents, and try to not make mistakes because they can be costly and have negative affects on the case they’re working on, their clients, and their own reputation. That’s usually true, except when it comes to one of the most famous authors in the world. Apparently one of J.K. Rowling’s attorneys slipped up and ended up making a big public relations blunder. The New York Times reported the embarrassing mistake in Julie Bosman’s article, “Another Rowling Mystery Solved: Behind theTweet That Identified Her”. Basically, her own law firm didn’t pay attention to the attorney-client privilege when one of the partners told his wife’s friend that Rowling wrote a book using a pseudonym. The friend posted the information on Twitter, and Rowling was angry that the law firm she had trusted couldn’t keep a secret.

I’m sure if Rowling weren’t so famous, there wouldn’t have been much damage, though it still would have been wrong to reveal her identity. Lawyers have to remember that even a seemingly innocent conversation can cause an avalanche of publicity problems, which Rowling’s law firm experienced. There need to be filters in place, and a solid plan has to be developed when you’re dealing with a big client, and everyone should remember that social media can be dangerous as much as it is helpful. After all, you should avoid creating a situation that you will have to fix or that could cause you to lose clients. The best publicity is for successes, not for mistakes.