The Pandemic Forced Attorneys to Embrace Video and There Ain’t No Stopping Them Now
How to effectively integrate video into your marketing strategy
It took a while, but largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, law firms and attorneys are finally embracing video as a public relations tool. Attorneys are sharing insights on webinars, interviewing with reporters via Zoom, starring in video press releases, and speaking to trade groups for conference sessions and events in virtual meeting rooms.
This dovetails with what most PR industry experts recognize as two key trends that will continue into 2021 and beyond:
People are avidly consuming news and information from social media, often from video. One recent study found that Instagram alone experienced a 40 percent jump in users during COVID-19.
Customers, even those hiring attorneys, want to know and relate to the person behind the professional. Video gives attorneys the opportunity to project themselves as personal, honest, and relatable.
According to a 2020 survey by a corporate video content producer, across all industries about three-quarters of marketers who said the pandemic impacted their marketing said it made them more likely to use video. At the same time, 96 percent of consumers whose watching habits were affected by the pandemic said they were viewing lots more video.
Attorneys who never recorded a video before 2020 are suddenly designing their visual backgrounds and lighting, tweaking their looks, and seeking out speaking and visual presentation tips to enhance their skills and maximize the impact of their new Hollywood moment.
While a few attorneys have perfected their video personas and presentations, most are still on the outside looking in. So here are simple ways to make the most of this opportunity while we’re still communicating and “PRing” in a virtual bubble.
The Technical Stuff: Making Magic at Home
Regardless of the content, messaging or purpose of a video, projecting an image of professionalism on camera does require certain decorum, such as making sure you’re properly framed, not working in your pajamas or underwear, and not making yourself appear as a cat (don’t go viral for the wrong reasons).
For a media interview, consider some tips for preparing for a virtual/video interview with a reporter or editor to maximize your credibility and get your message across effectively. These tips also apply to executing a webcast, sharing client alert information in a video, or just about any other audio-visual execution. Explore how to create a broadcast studio at home with proper camera positioning, lighting, sound quality, background, and other environmental conditions. Chances are, if you own a computer and smart phone (and who doesn’t?), you’ve already got the technology and tools you need to participate in, produce, post, and disseminate videos that will help you market your brand and raise your profile as a thought leader.
Now suddenly thrust in front of a camera, some attorneys are realizing their visual presentation skills could use a little polish. Being the focus of someone’s attention in a video shines a spotlight on body language, eye contact, hand gestures (or lack thereof), speech fillers (“um”), and other elements that can enthrall or disengage an audience. There are tips galore to be gleaned on how to grab the audience’s attention – a simple web search will uncover a treasure trove of helpful articles.
Ideas for Content and How to Deliver It
If you’re producing video webinars with colleagues or clients as co-presenters, content creation is a collaborative effort. An evergreen explainer video on a particular area of the law or set of regulations can be produced with a group or solo, and often the content can be derived from articles, white papers and client alerts that attorneys already have in the can.
But if the idea of writing a roadmap for a video presentation solo is daunting, many PR and marketing folks at law firms are well versed in the world of video scripting, including formulating impactful talking points that seamlessly weave in important personal or law firm messages. Consider asking these colleagues for pointers.
Whatever you’re communicating, think about how to personalize it or deliver it in the context of effective storytelling. Also, sharing bits of your personality and non-professional interests will help to showcase who you are as a person rather than just a lawyer for hire. Now more than ever, people hire those they admire and want to work with.
Seek out video interviews to get your personality noticed. Reporters increasingly interview experts and thought leaders on Zoom or video conference platforms and post the interviews online. These opportunities let attorneys share their thought leadership with target audiences, and reveal a bit about their personalities and what makes them tick.
Include some call to action at the end of any video to engage your audience. This could be as simple as inviting viewers to visit a firm’s website by adding script or cards to the video, especially if the video is hosted on a platform such as YouTube. For videos produced by an attorney or law firm, the call to action can be both verbal and on screen. It could be a simple invite to a specific page on the firm’s website or to the attorney’s LinkedIn page where the audience can find further engagement opportunities.
Extend Your Reach
Webcasts, video presentations, video news releases, and video press interviews need an audience. That means promoting the video on your bio page, on your firm’s “insights” or “news” pages, and through social media such as Twitter, Facebook, or wherever else you and your firm have an online presence. You or your firm may want to promote videos to your email lists. You can extend your reach by posting your video to YouTube and to your LinkedIn page.
Also, since you’ve invested time, money and intellectual capital producing or participating in a video project, you’ll get more bang for the buck by repurposing the content for a white paper, client alert or bylined article that you can get published in a legal, business or industry trade publication.
The Industry Will Never Be the Same
The number of lawyer and law firm webinars, interviews, alerts and other presentations via video to external audiences has certainly reached an all-time high amid these unprecedented times. When in-person meetings are safe again, there will no doubt be a tsunami of face-to-face events. But virtual events are likely to continue well beyond the pandemic since the architecture, know-how, and comfort levels have been built up. In some cases, these types of virtual interactions will even be preferable, if only due to logistics and ease. Fortunately, many attorneys and firms now have the skills and knowledge to make video a major asset.