On February, 26th, 2021 the analytical article by Baikal Communications Group on Litigation PR in Russia was published on the website of the Crisis and Litigation Communicator’s Alliance (CLCA). The material was prepared at the request of the Alliance for the purpose of enhancing the international communication competencies of the CLCA. The publication was authored by Director of Litigation PR Practice Nina Danilina.

The text of the article, titled “Litigation PR in Russia: cases, figures, trends” may be found below:

More and more public litigation disputes in Russia have been resolved through media coverage. Litigation PR comes to the rescue of plaintiffs and legal experts as the management of the communication processes during the course of any legal dispute or adjudicatory processing, aimed at creating beneficial background information around certain legal positions as well as achieving justice.

Russian cases

Just a few years ago plaintiffs and legal experts were ignoring the press, trying not to discuss their litigation disputes on social media. However, now in 2020 it is obvious to everyone – the probability to obtain an impartial and objective judiciary decision drastically increases if the public follows litigation proceedings.

High-profile cases of Mr. Ivan Golunov, an investigative journalist, and Mr. Mikhail Efremov, an actor, demonstrated the following: public opinion influences the outcomes of litigation disputes. A well-thought-out PR-strategy, which supplemented the conventional legal activities, set Mr. Ivan Golunov free. Meanwhile, the jail time of Mr. Mikhail Efremov was extended owing to the inconsistent PR-legal activities of his lawyer.

One of the most vivid examples of Litigation PR – lawsuit of Olympic freestyle skier Ms. Maria Komissarova against the clinic of Dr. Blum. Ms. Maria Komissarova broke her spine in a training crash at the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014. Dr. Evgeny Blum promised her the full recovery of all motor functions. Nevertheless, a 50 million rubles treatment, which turned out to be just a gym training within 1,5 years, has not brought any results: Maria is still confined to a wheelchair and not able to move on her own.

To win the case against the owner of the international network of clinics with wide connections and administrative resources, the large-scale information victory was needed.

Following the release of an episode of “The Man and the Law” TV program, after the publication of over 450 articles and the petition to support Maria (signed by more than 5000 ordinary people as well as many bloggers), eventually, Chairman of the Investigative Committee of Russia Mr. Alexander Bastrykin took charge of this case, and Maria received financial compensation. Thus, the aforementioned communication strategy buttressed and bolstered the legal position.

Another recent case – PR-support of the first Russian class-action lawsuit. Blogger Ms. Katya Konasova revealed that the acne treatment manufacturer FemFatal had misinformed consumers, hiding a cheap cosmetic antibiotic in the composition.

The news, regarding the lawsuit against FemFatal, generated buzz across Russian TV channels and business publications. Thematical programs, based on the case, garnered, in total, over 5 million views on YouTube, the main investigative video hit the Top-3 list of most-viewed YouTube videos within the Russian segment. As a result, the lawsuit was won, Rospotrebnadzor (Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing) prosecuted FemFatal for a number of violations, the class action lawsuit is still under consideration.

 The three most effective channels of Litigation PR in Russia

Research on the effectiveness of PR-support of litigation disputes, held among plaintiffs and legal experts by PLATFORMA and BGP Litigation in 2020, indicated that over 60% of all plaintiffs and legal experts had already used media coverage and publicity during a number of litigation disputes, and these instruments were considered effective. 78% of all respondents confirmed that PR-support had influenced the outcomes of litigation disputes.

In the majority of cases, respondents exploited simultaneously several channels for promotion. 56% of respondents utilized media publications, 47% of respondents arranged PR-campaigns on social media, 26% of respondents embarked upon TV, 21% of respondents used Telegram-channels.

Television was used for the maximum media coverage and attention at the highest governmental level, Telegram – in case of the rapidly distributed information, large-sized online media – to stamps out the negative information on the internet.

According to the aforementioned research, the most effective channels of PR-support of litigation disputes are conventional media resources, social media (the second place), and Telegram-channels (the third place). The most vivid examples of effective PR-support of litigation disputes are cases of Mr. Ivan Golunov (journalist) and Mr. Kirill Serebrennikov (stage and film director).

Main trends of Litigation PR in Russia

Nowadays in 2020, the 4 main trends of Litigation PR-2021 are quite obvious: active engagement of bloggers and influencers, the publication of discrete information (private correspondence, etc.), exploitation of technologies (contextual and targeted advertising), more aggressive behavior of defendants, who are doing their best to win as leaders of the modern information agenda.

In 2021 both individuals and companies will actively exploit Litigation PR. In particular, Litigation PR will be used to criminalize business disputes and resolve disputes between business and public authorities as well as disputes “David vs Goliath” (when small and medium-sized business is in legal disputes with large companies). Besides, Litigation PR will be more often exploited by NGOs, trade unions, and ecological movements.

The high necessity to summon the public’s attention will remain with regard to consumer protection disputes, class action lawsuits as well as in case of highly probable impartial and objective judiciary decisions.

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