By Emma Yates, defamation, reputation management and IP specialist lawyer at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors.
As PR professionals and communication experts, you will be fully aware of the huge value that a brand can have.
Promoting it is of course crucial, but protecting it is arguably even more important and utilising the skills of a specialist lawyer can play an important role in ensuring that your clients’ interests are best served.
The risk of damage to a brand is higher now than it has ever been, particularly due to the speed in which defamatory statements can spread and circulate through social media.
Reputation management skills and knowledge are more vital than ever and here are nine things for PR professionals to consider.
1. Does your client know that its brand is arguably its best asset?
Is your client’s brand strong? Does it need to be stronger? Either way, is it protected? Does your client know the importance of its IP and what to do with it?
2. Gather the evidence
If you’re dealing with adverse (or maybe even defamatory) comments about your client online, make sure that you screen shot the posts including date of publication. If your client wants to take legal action we’ll need the evidence!
3. Act fast
The quicker lawyers are on board, the more effective the action they may be able to take.
4. Saying sorry – lawyers don’t always say no to saying sorry
In fact those that work in the reputation management space know that it can be effective if the risks of doing so – or not doing so have been fully weighed up.
5. Internal messaging
Sometimes it’s staff who spot the crisis first, and then worry about the effect the content may have on them. Make sure that you advise your client to provide clear guidance to its staff about what to do, what not to do, and work on effective internal messaging in a crisis.
6. The tricky business of removing online content – It can be done
It’s sometimes possible to make the ISP and website operators responsible for defamatory publications online. Going to the publisher direct can be the best way to remove content and limit damage.
7. Be prepared
Of course a crisis plan is a must. Does your client have one and if so when did they last update it?
8. Be even more prepared – has your client reviewed its IT policy?
When the sun is shining and there’s no crisis to deal with, make sure that, your client has up to date policies, specifically, a tight social media policy. Crucially, make sure that its staff knows what it says. You never know when your client will need it.
9. Help clients pick their battles
Coolly assess what real damage could actually be caused, and whether it’s worth taking the point, and how. A lawyers input can be useful here.
Decisive action is required when protecting your clients’ brand, so make sure you are prepared and do everything you can to make sure that they are also ready.
Image courtesy of flickr user Cal Injury Lawyer