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LEGAL CENTS: Put the spotlight on your firm with video clips

Jane Pribek

Jane Pribek

When Kate Scoptur and other firm leaders at Axley Brynelson LLP, Madison, initially floated the idea of incorporating video into their website, only a few attorneys volunteered to be the guinea pigs.

Just over a year later, many more have embraced the idea.

“We have new clients coming in, saying they watched our video on our website, they read an article, and they decided to call this attorney for that combination of reasons,” said Scoptur, Axley’s director of client relations. “Our website traffic has gone way up. And it’s great material for our Facebook page and Twitter. The attorneys are seeing results, and now they’re wanting to participate in it.”

Attorney Richard Check in Milwaukee is another proponent of video. About a year ago, he posted 19 short videos on his bankruptcy law firm website. He’s since been told often by new clients that they’ve watched them all.

“I find my clients come in better-informed,” Check said. “When they first meet with me, they already know quite a bit about bankruptcy.”

The videos also give new clients immediate comfort with him, Check said. Having already listened to him speak, and seeing his facial expressions and body language, they’re already familiar with his style of client interaction.

Also, the videos distinguish him from his competitors. The tenor of many websites is just to scream “Call us now!” without really giving prospects a reason to do so. Meanwhile, Check is giving prospects useful information, in a format he believes they’re more likely to digest, as opposed to reading lengthy text.

One of his competitors is Milwaukee attorney Michael Mack, who starting posting testimonial videos about four years ago, along with a short video introducing himself on the homepage.

“They’re not paid actors. These are my real clients,” Mack said. “The people who watch them have almost a morbid curiosity about people who have debt – yet, they’re experiencing a lot of the same problems. So when a prospective client sees the video, they put themselves in the shoes of the person in front of the camera and it gives them hope and a willingness to talk to the lawyer who helped that person out.”

Incidentally, he said, it’s not been difficult to convince former clients to make the videos. They’re so relieved to have their financial burdens lightened, that typically they’re willing to do it because they think it might help someone else. That really gives Mack warm feelings about his work, he said.

How to make videos work for you:

DO consider a professional videographer if you can afford it. Check said he paid about $3,000 for a professional to shoot the videos, which took about a half-day. Judging by the overwhelmingly positive responses he’s received, he considers that a bargain.

Scoptur said Axley made a few videos in-house initially, but quickly determined, like Check, that the professionally made videos are a better way to project a professional image. In-house videos are still appropriate, she noted, for uploading videos such as “Meet Our New Law Clerk” to Facebook – an audience that already “likes” the firm and is fine with informality.

Meanwhile, Mack said for his purposes, what’s important isn’t the production, but rather if they feel “real” to the viewer. So some of his were shot in-house by staff, and some were professionally made. On that note, he’s considering adding a few new videos at alternative locations, such as a client’s home. You really don’t have to spend a lot of money on production, he emphasized.

DO post them on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as your website. In addition, put a link to the video as part of your e-mail signature, and/or send the link to prospects who’ve emailed you to express an interest, Scoptur said.

DO script what you’re going to say, and rehearse. This tip applies to most lawyers. Some can wing it; for example, Check said his videos are all FAQs he’s answered countless times — a script was unnecessary.

But Scoptur said most of the Axley lawyers have found scripting helpful — plus it gives them the opportunity to think about the key words that people might use as search terms, such as “business lawyer Madison.” They then write those words into the script, which helps with search engine optimization.

DO keep them short, just a minute or two on a single point of law. At Axley, “content marketing” is the goal, with informational videos, articles and podcasts. Each video offers a concrete tip for the viewer. “It’s much more valuable than just talking about your credentials,” Scoptur said.

On this point, however, check out the video library on Foley & Lardner’s website, which features attorneys publicly speaking for an hour or more. These are more akin to client alerts or webinars, and if you honestly think your clients will watch you for a full hour over lunch, then give it a try. Still, even in that instance, I would think a little editing would be appreciated.

DO make it very clear for testimonials that you’re posting this on the Internet, for the whole world to see, and make sure that’s understood, Mack said. Get the client’s permission, in writing.

But be flexible, he added. One former client contacted him much later after a testimonial was posted, to ask if he could remove it because she was getting married. He did so immediately.

DON’T attempt this if you cringe every time someone pulls out a video camera at holiday gatherings. That’s me — I detest almost every photo of myself ever taken (well the baby photos were kind of cute) and loathe any video of me even more intensely. If you feel the same way, your discomfort might be hard to overcome and will be apparent to viewers, too.

Jane Pribek can be reached at jpribek@bellsouth.net.

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