For people and companies whose values go up and down in tides of public opinion, an expert witness in public relations can be a partner to both the legal team and the crisis management team. Among other things, a public relations expert witness is the behind-the-scenes surveyor of the publicity surrounding cases who assists trial counsel and their clients in managing public opinion as papers get filed, rulings are issued, and verdicts are rendered.
As you research this topic to find an expert witness in public relations, you might be surprised to find these experts on site in high profile cases of elected officials, Hollywood personalities, and corporate executives. Part of the responsibilities for the expert might be to act as a go-between for the legal team and their client and the media, itself.
The public relations experts can also work directly as consultants for media outlets to advise on coverage of high-profile cases. Why? Because the very headlines that sell copy can also turn media moguls into defendants. In the capacity of an independent consultant, the expert witness can also don the hat of testimony, speaking to media industry practices and best business standards.
Obviously, we are referring to cases involving media damage to images and reputation, defamation, libel, and other tortuous misconduct.
The credentials for the expert witness in media relations often include a background in journalism, public relations, advertising, and marketing. Hiring a reputable publicist or PR firm with access to get up front can have as much added value as an expert who knows how to dim down the spotlight.
There is still another dimension to the kinds of services that can be performed by an expert in public relations, and that is work on behalf of the government. Whether advising on how to introduce new legislation to the public to gain their buy-in or otherwise strategizing the responsive posture of government officials and spokespersons. As part of the vitae of an expert witness in public relations, a background that includes big picture work is an important asset for international and large domestic corporations where any form of messaging can have the consequence of becoming a signaling function akin to media coverage.
Perhaps while you are in contact with a qualified public relations expert witness, you’ll pick up some tips to help market your own firm – say cheese!
By Paloma A. Capanna, Attorney & Policy Analyst