The Law of Public Perception

I am by no means an expert when it comes to law. I couldn’t fake it if I wanted to. Law is a subject that holds little interest for me and a subject that goes completely over my head.

At times as a public relations pro a lawyer could be your best friend or your worst enemy. Lawyers see truth as it really is whereas in public relations we look at truth as it is perceived. Our truth is public opinion.

There are times that lawyers may want to do something because it is best for a company in a moment without thinking about what the damage could be long term. On the other hand public relations pros may not know all of the laws they need to when it comes to media and copyright.

Both need to work hand in hand to come up with the best solutions for their company.

One such example of this is a recent story about Progressive Insurance trying to avoid a $75K payout to a dead client’s family.

In this case Progressive tried to blame the accident on their own customer, and aided in the defense of the man who hit her with his car, to keep from paying the $75k.

The deceased woman’s brother, Matt Fisher, created a Tumblr account to document all of the family’s struggles with Progressive, including an especially strong headline: “My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court.” This account garnered many views and the case turned into a national story.

In one of his posts Fisher said, “If you are insured by Progressive, and they owe you money, they will defend your killer in court in order to not pay you your policy.”

How could legal and public relations have worked better together to avoid a situation like this? Is saving the $75k worth all of the bad will incurred? You’d have to ask Progressive.