BerlinRosen’s comms strategy behind Sandy Hook families’ victory over Alex Jones

The agency’s crisis comms team focused heavily on earned media, working to educate and make journalists aware of Jones' legal tactics.

Twenty-six victims died at Sandy Hook Elementary School. (Photo credit: Getty Images).

NEW YORK: A Connecticut jury said last week that Alex Jones must pay at least $965 million in damages to families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting that took place almost 10 years ago.

Jones, a right-wing conspiracy theorist, had falsely claimed that the victims’ families were paid actors and that the massacre was a hoax. Twenty-six victims, the majority of them young children, were killed in the mass shooting.

BerlinRosen’s legal affairs and crisis communications practice worked with eight families, as well as the Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder legal team, to ensure Jones faced financial justice for his disinformation. 

Jones’ trial was not the first time BerlinRosen partnered with Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder or took a stand on the Sandy Hook tragedy. The New York-based agency also worked closely with nine families during their seven-year court case against Remington, the manufacturer of the gun used in the shooting. 

Andrew Friedman, EVP of legal affairs and crisis communications at BerlinRosen, said that, in Jones’ Connecticut trial, the families wanted to set a precedent. 

“[The families] wanted to take back their story, and to help send a message that [Jones]’ conspiratorial actions and behavior will not go unchecked,” he said. “People will be held accountable.”

To do so, the BerlinRosen team deployed an earned media-focused campaign, working to combat Jones’ deceptive strategies designed to influence the trial outcome. 

“[Jones] plunged three of his companies into bankruptcy a matter of weeks before the trial was supposed to start,” said Friedman. “A lot of our work was helping reporters see that for the legal tactic that it was: his umpteenth attempt to delay facing these families in court.”

Friedman added that because of the sheer scope of Jones’ trial, the earned media essentially “fueled” social and digital efforts by itself. 

None of the families or lawyers did an interview over the course of the month the trial was held, a “very intentional” move, according to Friedman. 

“Part of what we were doing during the trial was saying to the jury and the judge, [Jones] says whatever he wants to whoever he wants, whether or not it’s true and regardless of who it hurts,” Friedman said. “We [said we] aren’t going to do that; [we’re going] to do things the right way and the way we wish these families had been treated for 10 years.”

“The work with the Sandy Hook families on both of these cases is the most important work I will ever do,” Friedman added. 

BerlinRosen has made a series of deals since securing investment from private equity firm O2 Investment Partners in January. In July, the firm acquired DE&I consulting shop Onward and made a majority investment in strategic comms agency Glen Echo Group

One month later, BerlinRosen took a majority stake in brand consultancy Derris

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