While Marissa Espinosa was an intern for the Kentucky House of Representatives, she was sexually harassed by then Kentucky Speaker of the House Jeff Hoover and three other lawmakers. After detailing her accusations in a legal letter, the lawmakers secretly settled her claims in exchange for her confidentiality. However, about a year later, Hoover and two other lawmakers filed a lawsuit against Marissa. They claimed she violated the confidentiality clause in their $110,000 settlement and were seeking repayment. With the Support of Time’s Up, a national movement against sexual harassment, Marissa’s lawyer Gail Langendorf hired Communications Redefined to help guide communications strategy during their fight for positive legal outcomes.
After an in-depth media analysis and extensive research on the case, identifying which journalists covered the story in the past and others who may have written about similar stories, we developed a strategic communications plan. The plan was designed to encourage key media to write about Marissa’s story and influence public opinion to place pressure on the lawmakers to drop their lawsuit against Marissa. Because she was under a confidentiality agreement, we needed to tell Marissa’s story to the media without her being able to talk with them directly.
The media relations campaign from start to finish occurred over six months and was overwhelmingly successful. Public pressure led the lawmakers to drop their lawsuit against Marissa and her attorney had this to say about our work, “Without question, your work was the catalyst for Hoover’s decision to drop the lawsuit, and there is no question the sunlight you put on the case was an effective disinfectant and led to justice for Marissa.”
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