Crisis Communication and Reputation Management

GroundFloor Media (GFM) and CenterTable regularly work with clients in crisis situations who have retained legal counsel or have a general counsel on staff. In fact, in nearly half of our client engagements, we are technically retained by the clients’ attorneys in an effort to increase the likelihood that our communication with them will be protected by attorney-client privilege. The following outlines the partnership strategies we use to work most effectively with legal counsel during a crisis or a reputation management situation.

We understand the critical importance of a legal strategy driving a response to a crisis situation. Therefore, we define our proposed communication goals, strategies, tactics and outcomes collaboratively with legal counsel, and then ensure that each activity we undertake on behalf of the client supports (or at least  does not conflict with) the legal objectives.

Managing a crisis situation can take an incredible emotional toll on executives. It quickly becomes personal to them, and anger, frustration, embarrassment and sleep deprivation may mean they are not in a frame of mind to make the best decisions. That is why, whenever possible, we work behind the scenes with legal counsel to develop unified recommendations that include communication strategy to present to the client. We never want to give communication advice that conflicts with legal counsel.

We see first-hand how savvy opposition counsel use media to add pressure on clients experiencing a crisis to force a better settlement more quickly. It is important that legal counsel understand how to work with PR partners to respond to take back control of the media narrative. That eases the pressure on the client and its executive team, and gives legal counsel breathing room to execute a well-thought-out legal strategy.

We constantly monitor everything opposition counsel is doing from a media and social media perspective, and we measure its effectiveness in real-time. We quickly are able to identify what opposition counsel’s messaging is, whether they are trying to recruit additional members of a class action lawsuit, and whether the case is built on a legal or public-pressure strategies, for example. That allows us to better predict their next steps, which then allows us to prepare for them. It also is an important feedback loop for our partner attorneys, and we share that data immediately to give them the most accurate, timely information to inform their legal strategy.

We have worked with dozens of law firms nationwide representing our clients in crisis situations. And we’re proud to say that it is very common for us to work repeatedly with the same law firms that represent a variety of different clients.