Law master class at the XII International PR-festival
Natalia Ivanitskaya: «In the process of protecting goodwill there can be three case scenarios – pessimistic, realistic and optimistic. And all they need to be taken into account».
«In any case it is always better to act on the pre-emption».
«Protection against an information attack – legal advice». Report on this subject in the first day of the XII International PR-festival was not just within the program stated, but also a logical continuation of the previous information section dedicated to the corporate PR in a turbulent environment. Largely because during the previous discussion the problem of information attacks and protection of business reputation in Ukraine, in the context of recent events as well, was raised repeatedly. As a result, the performance of an attorney, a senior lawyer of Arzinger Natalia Ivanitskaya aroused great interest amoung the festival audience.
Her speech Natalia Ivanitskaya started with a compliment to the organizers of PR-forum, noting the high level of the event, and then moved on to the subject point. According to the authoritative lawyer it is ineffective trying to resist destructive information and deal with fake-attacks using only legal mechanisms, without the «response» information technology. And it is very important in this case to combine the efforts of all departments of the company (or outsourcing agencies) responsible for building and maintaining goodwill. In particular, legal, marketing and PR-services. In addition, each department must perform their duties within the framework of professional competence, not trying to take over the function of the project partners. The main thing – to formulate clear requirements for each other's actions considering the problem, namely time, projected results and the «side effects». This scheme, according to Natalia Ivanitskaya, is effective in the daily work and in relation to crisis situations as well.
Reaction to information attack, according to the lawyer, largely depends on its nature. If a company has to deal with the material, which is based on a valid statement about the fact that is information confirmed by real documents, it is much more efficient to solve the problem will be not a trial, but work with the source. If a company faces the dissemination of false information and has the necessary rebuttal or convinced that the credibility of the information source can’t be proved, you can select an active strategy – trial with parallel campaigns in support of reputation in the media, etc. In this case, value judgments, i.e. personal opinions of the author/editorial about a particular situation, event, etc. are protected by guarantees of freedom of speech, so are not subject to disclaimer. I.e. you can’t go to the court with such stuff. Very often it is not easy to determine what judgment is a statement of fact, and what – judgment.
Natalia Ivanitskaya stressed that the recovery of goodwill – the process is not of one day. «If you want immediate results – it will not happen. Even the fastest judicial decision will take some time of its execution, and the most rapid rebuttal won’t allow instantly to restore the status quo, as, objectively, the information space has been violated, – she said.–And a positive judgment at the same time does not correct the situation. Here, the game should be started by PR-service, because it is important that this decision became the information pretext that further could be «spun up».At the same time, in many cases, such a judgment can play against someone who is trying to protect his reputation. You should also be ready to this, and have some effective patterns of action, depending on further progress.»
In situations where the other party operates with adequate information, which may damage the reputation, the best way to argue and defend one’s position Natalia Ivanitskaya advised using such legal method as the right of reply. Media is obliged to post these materials for free, with the proviso that the right of reply was used within a month after the information attack.
In more detail expert focused on another actual problem, namely information attacks in the Internet. She noted that this area really is very complex for action within the legal field to restore goodwill. Primarily due to the lack of adequate legislation in Ukraine, as well as difficulties with the identification of the source. Nevertheless, the situation does not look helpless. The lawyer pointed out that in this regard, there have been some positive trends that can help lawyers and PR specialists: «Not so long ago the European Court of Human Rights made a decision that applies to Ukraine. According to this decision any online resource is responsible for every post of a comment. Post moderation and similar justification in this case are not taken into account. As a result, the company's legal department can refer to this argument in the process to protect the honor and reputation.»
Summarizing her speeches, Natalia Ivanitskaya highlighted the fact that before moving to action management, legal, marketing and PR-service of the company must provide and consider all options for the future, to assess the financial and other risks, to determine how long it takes to fulfil the tasks. «One should remember that the trial may be considered and used by the opposing party as newsworthy information for new attacks, and should be ready for this. And if the judgment is obtained, it is necessary to be performed, so that it was not a witch hunt.» Natalia Ivanitskaya also stressed the importance of communication – to combat information attacks, and – most importantly – as a tool for building a strong reputation: «In any case it is always better to work on the pre-emption. Understand what information events may occur, and work hard to make the audience think critically,» – she said.