How To Handle Your Small Business During a Lawsuit

No matter how cautious your company strives to be, sometimes you find yourself wrapped up in a lawsuit that someone has brought against you. When this happens, it is important to remain calm and think through every step you take moving forward. Certain facets of the public will likely be interested in your case, so your public relations team will have a lot of work to do. Here are five ways to present your company during a lawsuit.

1. Make a Statement

The immediate response of your public relations team should be to make a public statement addressing the lawsuit in a way that does not disclose any potentially sensitive information. Public opinion forms faster than ever today, and if you put information out before anyone else, the people are more likely to be on your side. Be transparent about the lawsuit, but always consult your lawyer(s) before releasing any information. Anything your business says or claims can be used against you in court, and you do not want to unintentionally doom yourself.

2. Tell the Truth

One of the worst things you can do in this circumstance is to attempt to mislead the public in an attempt to hide misconduct or other negative actions. This can put your company’s credibility in jeopardy if new information comes out that contradicts the narrative you tried to set. Court reporters Portland, journalists, and other sources are always gathering and keeping extensive records of information, so trying to pass off a lie as the truth rarely works properly. If your business has done something that is demonstrably wrong, own up to it with an apology that does not directly place blame upon the company at large.

3. Be Prepared To Comment

Once the word is out about your lawsuit, you will likely have several media companies reaching out for a comment, sometimes dozens depending on the size of your business. These journalists may ask difficult questions that not every employee will be equipped to answer. Make sure that every question is answered by your public relations team so that other employees to not give out conflicting information that they are not authorized to give. Control is important in this situation, and you can always control your company internally if nothing else.

4. Monitor Results

Feedback is key in these circumstances. You have spent so much time trying to protect your company’s reputation, and seeing some positive results will likely put your mind at ease. Positive and negative results can come from the response of individuals or news outlets. If you have handled your response correctly, you should see more positivity than negativity. However, no company is immune to negativity or criticism. There will always be people who blame you or decide to boycott you because of the lawsuit. Do not let these people discourage you, just look at the majority response.

5. Rebuild Afterward

Unless the result of your case is particularly devastating, your company will likely continue to exist after the lawsuit is over. Once your case is over or settled, the hype, both positive and negative, will likely die down. You can use this period of downtime to either change your company’s image to move away from past wrongdoings or continue playing it safe with business as usual. The phrase, “all publicity is good publicity” holds some accuracy. Eyes have been on your business for a while now, and you can use those extra eyes to advertise to a wider audience. If you play your cards right, your company can come out of the lawsuit a more successful company than when it went in.

All of your employees are crucial when your company is in the midst of a lawsuit. A single decision from any of them could make or break your company. make sure that everyone, not just your public relations team is trained on how to conduct themselves during the difficult times.

Guest article by Kevin Gardner

Kevin Gardner graduated with a BS in Computer Science and an MBA from UCLA. He works as a business consultant for InnovateBTS where he helps companies integrate technology to improve performance.

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