At the recent DRI Class Action Seminar, I asked Alison Frankel of Thomson Reuters how she thinks corporate defendants should best handle media inquiries relating to class action suits. Here’s what I gleaned from her answer:
- Statements issued by corporate media relations departments are usually worthless. They do not help a reporter understand a court ruling or what is important about it.
- Defense counsel should ask their client for permission to talk to the reporter on background, off the record, so that the reporter can get a more accurate understanding of the background, what the court decided and why it is important or not important. You make the rules and a reputable reporter will honor that. If the reporter does not honor that, speak with their editor.
- Court papers and opinions can be helpful to reporters but they don’t have the time to wade through a lengthy brief or opinion and try to figure out what matters. You should send the brief and point the reporter to particular pages.
- If your client has not yet responded to an argument made by the other side, consider helping the reporter predict what your responsive brief will say, obviously on background and with your client’s permission. This will make the reporter look good when your brief is later filed and they accurately predicted what it would say.