In every lawsuit or Supreme Court appeal we have worked on, the heart of our approach is to start early.
We don’t wait until the week before the trial or the oral arguments to brief key reporters. We go to them months before and walk them through the issues in the case. We get them fully up to speed — early.
Then we keep in touch.
This way, when the action heats up, they will already know our side of the story and our chances of favorable or at least balanced coverage go way, way up.
Even reporters inclined to dislike our corporate clients appreciate being treated with professional respect and, in most cases, respond accordingly.
Have you seen those new Toyota ads? The ones in which the company apologizes for letting quality slip. These are very unusual for a corporation facing product liability suits — and they are exactly the right thing to do.
Typically companies in Toyota’s position clam up. Statements are defensive and evasive. Maintaining such a posture during the long life of a litigation will leave a company’s reputation in badly compromise.
Yet public opinion studies have shown that companies that publicly speak to their problems — that defend themselves but also acknowledge faults and both pledge and work to fix them — build the trust of customers, suppliers, and potential jurors.
Toyota was slow to grasp its problem and engaged in denial for too long. But now it has put corporate reputation first. It is right to do so. And it likely to do better in court as a result.