May 2015 Newsletter Volume 1, Issue 5 – Walton County Bar Association
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May 2015 Newsletter Volume 1, Issue 5

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
By Aaron White

Greetings Walton County Attorneys. We had an
eventful April. First, I want to thank everyone
who joined us for our first WCBA community
service workday. We joined Habitat for Humanity to work on a
home for an elderly widow in Defuniak Springs. A great time was
had by all who participated. Secondly, I want to thank those of
you who joined us for our annual Judicial Symposium, especially
our local Judges. We enjoyed a great lunch with attorneys from
Walton and neighboring counties, followed by an informative
CLE program. Our May 14th meeting will be held back at Louis
Louis by popular demand. We will host two members of the
Pensacola U.S. Attorney’s Office. I hope to see each of you there!

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Know Your Rights || By Sandi Poreda, APR, March 19, 2015
As an attorney, you’re trained to focus on the case inside the courtroom – to develop a winning legal strategy and implement it for judge and jury. But what happens when you also need a win in the court of public opinion? Let’s talk about a few basic public relations skills that can help you (and your clients) when relationships with the public matter most.

1. Build relationships early. The worst time to make friends is when you really need them. Get to know the people whose opinions have weight in the community – these are people you may need to speak on your behalf (or stay strategically silent) when things heat up. It also doesn’t hurt to get to know the reporters who cover the courts, because you want them to see you as a person and not just a source. Relationships matter immensely.

2. Take time to listen and evaluate before responding. It’s easy to rush to respond, especially in the heat of the battle. But take care to make sure you’re not being baited. Sometimes silence really is deafening. And if a response is warranted, be thoughtful and deliberate. Try not to repeat the negatives – focus on your message and what you need people to hear.

3. Pick your battles. It’s ok to go to the mattresses when it really matters, but don’t be the attorney who takes offense at the smallest slight. People will eventually learn not to pay attention. If you are strategic, people will listen when something matters to you.

4. Be memorable for the right reasons. Whether you’re interacting with the public or the press,
avoid these rookie mistakes:

 Don’t get belligerent. It’s not your job to fix stupid.
 Stay on message. Don’t get pulled down a rabbit hole.
 Project confidence. You’re the expert.
 For TV, don’t wear loud colors or tiny prints or stripes.

5. Avoid saying “No comment.” It’s comfortable and safe, but it usually doesn’t do anyone any
good. If you need help framing a message, get in touch with an expert who understands litigation
communications, a specialty area of public relations for attorneys and when you boil it all down,
public relations is about understanding what people around you care about and how you can
build relationships to influence that environment. Start small and let it build as you get
comfortable. You and your clients will benefit!

Author Sandi Poreda, APR owns a communications firm, Bulldog Strategy Group, that
specializes in litigation

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