Chalk up an amazing victory for great media aesthetic! Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, has dismissed his lawsuit against Washington City Paper, the alternative weekly news publication in DC. To re-cap, Snyder sued the publication over a half-critical/half-satirical article that enumerated many of the more tawdry episodes of Snyder’s corporate and Redskins missteps, claiming the piece contained numerous false accusations.
Snyder’s litigation was roundly criticized by a chorus of voices, and many of his claims were extremely questionable – most notably where he argued that City Paper’s photo with devil horns scribbled on his face constituted anti-Semitism. Aside from the (lack of) merits of his lawsuit, from the PR perspective, this certainly is one of the most high-profile litigation PR disasters in recent memory.
No good was going to come out (in the media, no less) of a testy pro football team owner taking on a small media outlet. Even if the lawsuit had some merit, the litigation PR strategy was way off track. Many times over, Snyder’s attorney pushed the lawsuit’s shakiest claims into random verbal musings to the press. And the most damning part of all this came at the very end, as Snyder himself just told the New York Times that he never read the article in the first place.
So what we learn from all this is that in litigation PR, all sides – the client, the attorneys, the publicists – must work and strategize together. And to that end, the best public relations firms are the ones who aren’t afraid to tell their clients what they need to hear, even if it isn’t what they want to hear. Too bad that sort of necessary self-awareness ultimately wasn’t (and now most certainly isn’t) the case for Dan Snyder.