What lawyers and public relations pros can learn from each other

March 11, 2019

In July, I wrote about the natural conflict between legal and public relations. Legal wants to win a case or obtain a permit while limiting the liability of the client. In other words, protect and achieve whatever specific objective is at hand.

The public relations professional, on the other hand, has the broad objective of maintaining or improving reputation and the narrower objective of shaping a specific message.

The best client result comes when legal and public relations coordinate so that their respective objectives complement each other and increase the client’s chances of meeting its short- term and long-term objectives.

Coordination of legal and public relations starts with each party respecting the others’ strengths.

First – Public Relations. Public relations professionals are at heart, storytellers. People understand stories and public relations professionals often can help shape the message by telling a story. Legal positions are often just that – legal positions. Reducing a legal position to a story that stakeholders can understand will go a long way to achieving a client objective.

Now – Legal. Facts matter to lawyers. For that reason, lawyers spend a lot of time getting the facts and checking the facts. Public relations professionals should be just as concerned with the facts. A message plagued with incorrect facts will take a client backwards.

The good news is that if legal and public relations are working together, they can seamlessly communicate the client’s position and assure that the facts are correct. The stakeholders understand and support the client’s objective because it is communicated in a clear, simple, understandable and accurate way.

We formed NP Strategy as a subsidiary of Nexsen Pruet to better marry the unique strengths of legal and public relations to produce a better result for the client.

 

As a businessman, Leighton Lord has critical first‐hand experience in running a large business, managing people, and building consensus. Currently, Leighton is founder and Managing Director of Nexsen’s communications affiliate, NP Strategy, LLC. At the age of 42, he was elected Managing Partner of Nexsen Pruet, making him one of the youngest managing partners of a major law firm.

Originally posted in MidlandsBiz on March 8, 2019.

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