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Business radar

15 October 12

How to respond effectively to an ever-changing business world and those "left field" events: (3) establishing a public reaction process for sudden events

by Neil Forrest

Sudden unexpected events in your business sphere can represent both a threat and an opportunity. A speedy reaction process to get your views into the public domain should be set up in advance.

How do we get the firm’s views out quickly?

If a major unexpected event such as new case law developments, or even economic changes with implications for legal work, suddenly occurs, the value in a public announcement will be greatest if this can be done quickly. Waiting for full signoff by the partnership may mean your comments go out behind other firms’, and the views look like old news.

It’s therefore better to delegate responsibility for issuing the firm’s immediate reaction, to a responsible and capable partner or staff member, if necessary providing parameters and rules for what can and cannot be said. Even defining appropriate phraseology can be useful: “initial thoughts suggest that… however we are closely studying the implications for our clients and expect detailed feedback shortly”.

How do we maximise the benefits from our first response?

When drafting a fast response, view this as a business development opportunity as well, and try to include an intelligent comment or two. Saying something sensible but interesting on the event, including an angle others may not have seen, can help your business profile and show thought leadership, helping the firm’s brand.

What about a more detailed response?

As soon as the fast response is out, work should begin on a more measured view from the firm to the outside world.

Start preparing an article for the firm’s e-zine or hard copy publications, and other responses that fit within the PR strategy, such as tweeting, should also commence. The suitability of the event for a future free seminar to clients and prospects should also be considered. Although these can take a bit longer to construct, following up while the event is topical will deliver the maximum benefit. If possible, aim to hold your event within weeks rather than months.

Neil Forrest provides strategy and funding advice to the legal sector and other business groups. t: 0131 440 4118; e: nrf@neilforrest.co.uk

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