'Closing the Gap' panel highlights the relationship between PR and legal

NEW YORK: Kevin Sullivan, VP of corporate relations at Allstate, is an attorney who has worked both in PR and as a general counsel for the company.

NEW YORK: Kevin Sullivan, VP of corporate relations at Allstate, is an attorney who has worked both in PR and as a general counsel for the company.

Having seen both sides of the traditionally difficult relationship between legal and PR teams, he said that may actually be improving. "As litigation over the past several years has gotten to be more high stakes, with the entrepreneurial class action, lawyers have grown to appreciate more the public areas of litigation," Sullivan said. The relationship between PR and legal is the topic of the next PRWeek/Peppercom 'Closing the Gap' breakfast panel. PR and legal advisers, whether in-house or with professional firms, will often find themselves at odds over issues facing a corporation, including giving out information during a crisis, financial communications, and litigation PR. This panel, third in a series of four, aims to provide insights into strategies for cultivating more productive and aligned relationships between these functions. Sullivan said that although there has been progress in building bridges between the functions, "I wouldn't say it's advancing very quickly." Success for attorneys means winning a case, but there are other ways to assess the value of an PR program employed in the face of litigation, according to Harlan Loeb, director of Hill & Knowlton's litigation practice. "If you poll most Americans over an issue they will say two things are true," he explained. "That they understood the company's position in the context of litigation, and that their buying decisions were not adversely affected by it." Other panelists include Tom Glover, director of PR for ITT Industries, and Vince Maffeo, SVP and general counsel for the same company, along with Bill Nielsen, corporate VP with Johnson & Johnson,, and Todd Norbitz, partner with the law firm Foley & Lardner. Previous panels have examined the relationship between PR and sales and PR and procurement departments. The breakfast will take place at 8am on Thursday, September 23 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. To reserve a spot, send an email to christie.casalino@prweek.com

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