On May 4, 2016, Richard Ferretti, a 52-year-old chef, was looking for parking in his West Philadelphia neighborhood. After nearby residents reported erratic driving to the police, an unmarked police car pulled in front of Ferretti’s minivan as he drove. Moments later, Ferretti, who was unarmed, was shot three times by police while still seated behind the wheel of his vehicle. He died shortly thereafter. The incident was important news in the Philadelphia area, highlighting the police department’s alleged abuse of power and fitting into a greater national narrative of police brutality and the need for social justice.
Attorneys Kenneth M. Rothweiler and Todd A. Schoenhaus of the law firm Eisenberg Rothweiler Winkler Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C. represent the Ferretti family and filed a complaint against the City of Philadelphia and the police officer on June 5, 2017. Immense public interest surrounded the case; the objective of the Philadelphia personal injury law firm press conference was to publicize the action against the city, put pressure on the D.A.’s office to release information to the family after saying nothing for more than a year, and capture the attention of the public.
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In addition to conducting media research to ensure the most targeted outreach, Furia Rubel provided strategic counsel to determine the best way to garner media coverage, no matter what else was happening that day in the Philadelphia or international media markets. That included hiring a photographer and videographer for B-roll in the event that media attention was diverted elsewhere during the press conference.
Indeed, that turned out to be the case. The press conference took place immediately following the filing of the lawsuit, a day that turned out to be busy with several media-worthy stories. The Bill Cosby trial was taking place in Montgomery County, and every broadcast station’s camera crew and most newspaper and regional Associated Press (AP) staff were assigned to cover it. Other Philadelphia-area breaking news also pulled much of the focus away from the press conference: an escaped prisoner was on the loose in Bucks County, causing schools to go on lockdown; a verdict was handed down in a high-profile trial of a man in Bucks County accused of buying and raping young Amish girls; and a bus driver was shot and killed at a transit station in New Jersey.
Even with most of the area’s media resources being focused elsewhere, journalists attended the press conference to announce the lawsuit in the wrongful death of Richard Ferretti. Their coverage, combined with a detailed press kit that included photos and video, generated considerable coverage in the Greater Philadelphia area.
The personal injury law firm press conference campaign was a perfect demonstration of how strategic planning and internal production of full media assets, including a story, photos, and video, enable PR professionals to secure news coverage for their clients, even when faced with a difficult news cycle that stretches the resources of the area’s journalists.