Friday, July 29, 2016

Counter the Greedy Corporate Client Perception with Stories of Care

Whether your corporate client is the plaintiff or the defendant, you are up against the public perception of corporations as greedy, uncaring entities whose only motive in any and all situations is profit-profit-profit.

Nothing new there. And usually one seeks to “humanize” the corporate client by giving the corporation a “face,” a sympathetic human being who speaks for the corporation. Preferably someone everyone on the jury can relate to and—best case scenario—want to have as a BFF. Too often, a prospect that exists only in your dreams. . .

Which is not to say that the need to put a warm, human “face” in front of the jurors isn’t important, it is, no argument there. But there are other ways to counter the “greedy uncaring” stigma.

I remember waiting for a CEO in the corporate headquarters’ lobby, passing the time by looking at the various photographs, plaques, and other such on the walls. When the legal team assembled with the CEO, the only strategy brought up to humanize the company was the “face” approach. I was confused: on the lobby walls there were plaques honoring the corporation’s sponsorship of a local soccer club, among other awards and the like. The legal team feared that listing the corporation’s community endeavors would seem like pandering. OK, I could see their point, but how did the corporation get involved with the soccer team in the first place? Out of all other possible community options?

Then I got the story. A wonderful, inspiring story that did more than “humanize” the corporation, it showed that humans, with hearts like all the rest of us, invested in more than the almighty dollar—were the engine of the corporation.

Just like WestJet and Canadian North, who in response to the wildfires earlier this year that forced 80,000 people to flee their homes in Fort McMurray, Canada, bent their usual rules to allow pets to travel in the main cabin, even without a carrier or a kennel. Your corporate client may not have as heart-warming or dramatic an example of their humanity, but I guarantee if you but scratch the surface, you will find that the corporation has stories of unselfish compassion.
After all, it’s still just all about people. And people care.