Daily Dispatch

Lawyers: Get (In) Credible with Video

By | Apr.10.14 | Communicating, Daily Dispatch, Legal Marketing

Video

The best way for potential clients to gauge chemistry and competence — short of meeting you in person — is by watching you in an online video. With a mere tap on their tablet or smartphone, they can get up close and personal for a sample of your style. While the technology gets easier, secrets remain about how to come across well on video. Drew Keller, expert on just that topic, will give tips on “How to Tell Your Story with Video” at Lawyernomics 2014. We asked him for a preview. 

1. What is the best marketing use a lawyer can make of video online?

The best use of video in the marketplace is building credibility. It is a powerful way to guide viewers’ perceptions, helping them see a law practice or attorney as a trusted adviser.

Intuitively, we measure a video’s success not by facts but by its effectiveness at eliciting a predictable emotional response. How do you want to be perceived? Approachable? Empathetic? Cold and aloof? Remember, you are talking with a potential client, not a judge or peer. Keep your viewers’ emotional needs and expectations in mind. They are measuring you by your ability to communicate an understanding of their problem and perceived trust that you can solve it.

2. Don’t you have to have fancy equipment — camera, lighting, microphones — to make video work for you?

Your audience does not care what camera you used, and they don’t care what software you used to edit the video. All they care about is seeing you clearly and hearing your message. This means framing the image so those on camera fill the frame, using an external microphone to eliminate background noise, paying attention to how your camera reacts to your lighting, and keeping the camera steady so viewers don’t get fatigued trying to track your subject in the frame. You can accomplish great things with a smartphone, consumer camera or pocket camera like a Kodak zi10. Better cameras give better images, but what matters is how you use what you have.

If you’re just getting started with web video, I recommend that you invest in a good microphone that will work with the camera, and a tripod. Those two items will make a significant difference in audience engagement.

3. Is scripting your video a good idea, or should you just talk off the cuff?

Some form of scripting always makes a difference. Even if someone wants to ad-lib their content, I often ask them to write out what they want to say first. It helps to focus the message, discover key phrases to emphasize and, most importantly, gives structure to the video. You don’t have to memorize what you wrote, and you should never read what you wrote unless you are a pro with a prompter. No one will watch someone droning on while reading a script — there is no eye contact, you appear shifty and you are not leveraging the power of video.

The best solution is to rehearse over and over before you fire up the camera. You will look confident in your message, and your audience will connect to the messenger instead of getting lost in an avalanche of words.

4. It seems most of the lawyer videos we see online are fairly stiff and, frankly, don’t really make the lawyer seem like someone you’d want to engage. Is there a way to warm up the human connection?

Most of us grew up with television. It is easy to think of online video as being an extension of broadcasting, a message of one to many. But that is a trap.

Online video is one-to-one. It is a conversation with your viewer. Too many of the legal videos I see involve needless posturing, too much data and speakers who either look like a deer in the headlights or treat it like a closing argument. You don’t have to appear hammy or unnecessarily casual, but you do have to be approachable. You are talking to an individual, not a room full of people. Be yourself. Trust your message. And rehearse.

When creating content it is critical that you always keep the intended audience in mind. Most videos are discovered via search. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. When people have a question they want answered, they are turning to video for guidance. Consequently, before shooting the video, before writing a script, before locking in your message, you have to identify the needs of your intended audience:

  • What is their problem?
  • What are their demographics?
  • What are they searching for?

If you set a clear and concise goal for your video, then the choices you have to make while producing it become easier. You have a better idea of what to include and what will resonate. A firm’s or attorney’s goal is always to build trust with the audience. From that trust comes potential clients. If a message is cluttered or unfocused and you try to accomplish too many things in one video, your audience will leave. And if it feels like a sales pitch, your message falls flat.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of organization, goals and practice.

5. Can you recommend a few good resources where our readers can learn more about how to use video?

I rely on web publications over printed media because this medium is changing so rapidly. There are a wide variety of resources available on the web, including tutorial and best practices articles posted in the “How To” section of my website, StoryGuide. Other great technical resources include Lynda.com, Creativecow.net, B&H Photo’s Explora, IzzyVideo.com, Videomaker.com and, of course, searching on YouTube.

For information and insights on the business of distributing content, I recommend Ooyala, The Diffusion Group, Qumu, Kultura, Ustream and Brightcove. Simply Measured recently rolled out a report on how to motivate audiences to take action, Ooyala’s quarterly Global Video Index offers good insight on video and the web, and I have come to rely on the Altimeter Group’s analysis. At the beginning of this month they released a very good report on what they refer to as “Digital Darwinism” and the rapidly evolving digital customer experience. These are solid resources for sifting through the myriad options when an attorney is serious about engaging clients in this new millennium.

Drew Keller is founder and president of StoryGuide.net. He focuses on digital and social media, working with enterprise customers to develop successful media strategies. (Watch his Lawyernomics video profile here.) With more than 15 years of experience in web video production and delivery, he is a sought-after speaker and writer, helping companies worldwide survive the digital media revolution. He leads classes in digital media as a faculty member at the University of Washington’s School of Communication, Communication Leadership Graduate Program. Follow him on Twitter @drewkeller.

Attorney at Work is a sponsor of Lawyernomics 2014.

Illustration ©sabelskaya / iStockPhoto.com

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