Alabama Governor Robert Bentley was being investigated for using campaign resources to cover up an alleged affair with a senior staffer — and our client was spearheading the investigation. Challenge accepted.
Litigation firm Lightfoot, Franklin & White’s white collar lead attorney Jack Sharman was retained as Special Counsel by the Alabama House of Representatives Judiciary Committee to guide its impeachment investigation of then-Gov. Bentley.
As the firm’s PR agency, our job was nuanced and critical:
Leverage our relationships with journalists at top media outlets to own the story
Position the attorneys as experts in the media and get them quoted
Keep reporters informed and answer questions while sensitively managing a high-profile situation that was garnering national attention
Capitalize on the experience, after the dust settled, to drive new business for the firm’s white collar defense and corporate internal investigations practice
On April 7, 2017, Sharman and his team released the findings of their investigation in a 123-page report, with 3,000 more pages of exhibits. Bentley, dubbed the “Love Gov” by the media, resigned three days later.
We carried out responsive and proactive media work on the case, securing numerous interviews and earning significant press coverage for Sharman’s investigation in the following outlets:
The firm hosted Sharman’s investigative report and its exhibits on a dedicated website, BentleyInvestigation.com, to provide the media (and the public) everything on public record about the investigation. Our team promoted the site and pitched it as a resource to journalists.
Within the first 30 hours of going live, the site had more than 16,000 downloads. It has now been viewed more than 50,000 times, successfully placing Lightfoot, Franklin & White at the forefront of the media and public discussion surrounding the investigation.
Building momentum: Proactive PR at the next level
On May 9, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump fired then-FBI Director, James Comey. The same month, Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel for the Trump-Russia investigation.
We capitalized on the opportunity and tapped our network of journalists once again. Our team pitched Sharman as an expert source on the developing national story, highlighting the Bentley investigation as well as his prior role as Special Counsel to the U.S. House Financial Services Committee for the Whitewater investigation involving President Bill Clinton.
Sharman was quoted across national media outlets, including Reuters (twice), Bloomberg, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today and Business Insider. He was also a guest on MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams.”
“Reputation Ink’s media strategy resulted in nationwide coverage for our law firm,” said Emily B. Woloschuk, Lightfoot’s Director of Marketing and Business Development. “They successfully placed Lightfoot in the conversation, which positioned the firm as a reliable news source for other government investigations.”
Our strategy was recognized by the Legal Marketing Association Southeastern Region with a 2017 Your Honor Award for Media Relations. In all, our team secured:
National media coverage, including an interview on NBC’s The Today Show, which reaches 4.635 million viewers per week, as well as articles in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post and U.S. News.
A regional television interview broadcast, reaching 385,470 TV homes
Coverage overall in 26 print and online media outlets, reaching more than 200 million subscribers and viewers, plus the reach of two wire services (Reuters and Bloomberg)
Thousands of impressions across social media, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook
More than 16,000 downloads on BentleyInvestigation.com in the first 30 hours and more than 50,000 total views so far
While these results have substantially elevated the profile of the firm and its attorneys, the true ROI? New business. As a result of our PR campaign, the firm was retained for a high-profile public corruption case within weeks —and we’re just getting started.