Public Relations firms are required to navigate a number of contentious situations. As a result, it is important to have a clear understanding of legal issues that may arise when representing their clients. There are a number of legal issues that consistently infiltrate public relations. One example of this is when a person is falsely accused of a crime. In such situations, it will be important for a publicist to have an understanding of defamation, libel and slander.

Public Relations Basics

Public relations is the business of managing the relationships that a person or company have with the community, general public and media. A PR firm is charged with managing the reputation of their client and ensuring that they are perceived publicly in a way that reflects them in a positive light. Public relations firm do not initiate this in the way that one may think. They are not journalists writing columns nor do they advertise for their clients in the typical way. They do their research and get to know their client well. From there, they engage media outlets in a number of ways by:

  • Surveying the public regarding a company’s image through market research.
  • Supporting the business in networking and marketing strategies by connecting them with important contacts.
  • Strategizing, mitigating and managing crisis situations
  • Writing speeches and statements for their clients.
  • Writing press releases
  • Managing social media

Public Relation Firms and Defamation Laws

It is important for a public relations firm to understand laws when representing their clients. In some situations, clients require legal representation in addition to the services of a public relations firm.

Defamation Laws: It may be possible for a person or company to pursue justice through the court system if they believe that allegations made against them by another cause serious harm. Knowing the difference between slander and libel is vital in understanding claims of defamation.

Slander: is when someone makes a verbal statement that has a negative impact on a person or company’s reputation. Examples may include statements made on radio or television.

Libel: is the result of a written statement that has a negative impact on a person or company’s reputation.

A publicist can be a vital part of this particular type of suit.  It will be important to work with a personal injury lawyer if you have been falsely accused of a crime as defamation laws may come into play. 

Public relations can play a supportive role with in comes to managing clients who are in need of some support around their image and reputation. It is important as a publicist or public relations firm, like a public relations agency in New York, NY at Goldman McCormick PR, to understand the ways that the law must be accounted for when it comes to managing and supporting their clients.