Over the years, we have represented numerous clients in cases that have attracted media attention. Communicating with the media can be a very important part of effectively representing a client. When a trial begins to take place in the court of public opinion, skilled representation becomes vital.
The nuances for effective communication with the media are complex. From ethical considerations, to sociological and psychological factors, working with the press to best represent a case can be a delicate matter which requires experience and expertise.
Sometimes the way the media portrays a person on trial can have a greater effect on a persons life than the actual trial, especially when a person is eventually found innocent.
When we expect that a case will attract attention from reporters, a strategy for communicating with the media must be put in place, and often rather quickly.
Often the beginning of an investigation, arrest or indictment may be a newsworthy event depending on the nature of the case. Sometimes the charges alleged are brought with deeper motives aside from the allegations themselves. Hidden political agendas or public persuasion are occasionally in play. And since news travels at the speed of the internet these days, Criminal Defense Lawyers cannot afford to neglect when the media comes calling.
What is not known, however is that most lawyers were not educated on the skills of media relations in law school. Add to that the fact that Criminal Defense Attorneys are subject to certain restrictions on speech about details of the case, and you’ve got a very sticky matter. Knowing what to say, how to say it, and when to say it, become crucial to an effective defense.
Effective Media Relations
Once a person has been accused of a crime, they often feel the need to talk and explain themselves. This is usually not a good idea. Any defensive response often comes out differently than intended, and even worse, is recorded and can be used later against the person.
After the accused gets legal counsel from a Criminal Defense Lawyer, it’s a good idea to have one designated media spokesperson. That person, usually the Criminal Defense Lawyer, should be well rehearsed on strategy, approach, and talking points.
When it can be proven that media coverage would create a likelihood of prejudice, gag orders can sometimes be put in place to prevent details of the case being shared with the press.
If you or a loved one find yourself associated with a crime (whether rightly or wrongly), before talking to the media, consult with a Criminal Defense Lawyer who is experienced with Media Relations and it’s implications on trial proceedings.