Litigation PR: Public opinion in the Batman shooting case

Nick Augustine is the principal of Chicago’s Augustine Legal Public Relations and he works for the Bryan Law Group, a full service boutique family practice in DuPage County. Nick teaches law firms and their staff how to get more clients as he helps attorneys share their knowledge, skills and abilities. Nick earned a communications and rhetorical studies degree from Marquette University and a law degree from The John Marshall Law School where he is an active Alumni Board member.

Yesterday morning I received a text from Sprint: “Colorado shooting suspect to appear.” I was at the Daley Center with my hands full and was not able to check in on the shooting case. Later in the day a friend posted on my Facebook wall that James Holmes was in court. Other friends commented on what they heard and thought. What I gathered was that there was a bond hearing. I also talked to a few friends who had their thoughts on the fate of the Batman shooter. Not until the end of my day did I read a traditional news story about the case.

Where do you get your news? Some people read newspapers and others visit news websites. When I see stories that matter to my friends I share them through social media. Some people may solely rely on Facebook or Twitter to keep them up to date.

If I want to learn more about the Holmes bond hearing, I search Google for top news stories. Sometimes a Wikipedia page has concise information, despite vetting concerns. I found an article by CBS News and The Associated Press detailing the Batman shooter’s first appearance before a judge.

My favorite part of the article is the reader comment section. I always hope experienced and credible people will share new information and ask new questions I hadn’t thought of. In this case there were 262 comments posted by others who read the story.

Comment topics included:

  • Race in terrorism
  • Gun rights and laws
  • Mental state and capacity
  • Death penalty
  • Prison rape
  • Religion

When someone starts a new discussion thread on a hot button issue, we learn what people really want to discuss. How would you contribute to the conversation? What discussions would you start?

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