A lawyer by profession, I am privileged to be surrounded by communications professionals who work for our agency network that now employs almost 600 people in Canada, the United States and Europe.
Regardless of the project scope or the budget we are allocated, we are called upon to take part in high priority projects of organizations that have placed their trust in us, and have often done so for many years.
When I joined NATIONAL ten years ago, this was exactly what I wanted do. What I did not know was that one of the most rewarding parts of my work would be to reconnect with the field of law. Every day, I have the opportunity to work with the best lawyers in the country, leaders in their respective practices: mergers and acquisitions, project funding, energy, infrastructure, mining, environment, healthcare, and more.
The PR professional’s role is generally not very well known by lawyers – and the opposite is just as true. Needless to say, we each bring complementary skills and mindsets to the table, and that’s to the clients’ benefit. The same file approached from two angles gives clients the ability to evaluate their options through two lenses: that of the law, and that of their reputation.
Working alongside lawyers enables us to find specific answers to complex legal and business issues as well as strategies. My experience is that even if the PR lens is different, that’s good as it often allows for a wider range of solutions. For instance, the acquisition of Quebec or Canadian companies by organizations whose headquarters are located outside the country remains a sensitive issue from a political, public and media perspective. NATIONAL’s work consists of providing the client with the proper information and tools with regard to the most sensitive issues that could influence the relevant government’s decision whether or not to authorize the transaction.
Quite often, we can bring significant nuances and take into account regional sensitivities so that the transaction may be completed and supported by decision makers and influencers. In this type of mandate, we work very closely with lawyers in order to advise our clients in our respective area of practice. Well beyond the announcement and all the communications tools that will have to be developed prior to announcing a transaction, our task is to make sure the client takes into account our governments’ priority concerns, the public’s and key players’ perception as well as the expected media reaction.
In 2017, we worked on several projects of this nature. All players involved recognized that a close collaboration between the client, their lawyers and ourselves was mutually rewarding and that, in the end, the quality of our work and of the project itself was considerably improved. The lesson here for all concerned is that there are many types of projects where lawyers and public relations professionals should work together for their greater benefit, but above all, for their clients’ benefit.
For me, the big lesson here is that open-mindedness, curiosity, collaboration and transparency aren’t just important within our Firm, they’re essential to a successful outcome on projects of any scope.