May 10, 2011 5:28 PM
The Careerist: PR Advice to King & Spalding
Posted by Vivia Chen
This much we can all agree on: King & Spalding got itself into an awful pickle by dipping its toes into the controversial Defense of Marriage Act.
First, the firm agreed to represent House Republicans in defending DOMA. Then, amid protest by gay rights groups, King & Spalding withdrew from the case, triggering former solicitor general Paul Clement (who brought the case to the firm) to resign from the firm's partnership. Since then, clients like the NRA and Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli have dropped the firm in protest.
The debate about whether King & Spalding did the right thing will probably go on. But the more urgent question is this: What can it do now to restore its reputation?
Bob Witeck, the founder of Witeck-Combs Communications, a Washington, D.C.-based public relations firm that advises companies on crisis communication, offers some insights. Witek's firm, which has no affiliation with King & Spalding, also advises companies on marketing to the gay and lesbian communities.
King & Spalding seems to have done everything wrong from the get-go. It has managed to tick off everyone of every political stripe. So where should it direct the damage control?
The top priority is to communicate with your clients and the people who work for you that you stand by your policy of inclusion as a guiding principle. The media will make its own decision about the episode, but you have to be true to your clients and your own brethren about your core beliefs.
So you wouldn't bother to make a case for redemption with the public?
I think the less time talking with the press, the better.
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