chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
February 17, 2016 Dialogue

Lights, Camera, Action!

By Sheila Vermacy, Linda Chadbourne

Like other LRS programs, the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service is always looking for ways to enhance its public visibility. We have a website, a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, and a presence on LinkedIn, as well as phone book ads; but could we, should we do more? If so, what new ideas could we consider, and—more importantly—afford to implement?

It is hardly surprising that in this technologically-savvy age, an increasing number of people use the Internet to find attorneys. Research shows that the second-largest search engine used by the public is YouTube, giving us the obvious answer to our question of what new ideas to implement: We could make a video for YouTube that could also be added to our website. We loved the idea, but then reality set in. NH LRS is a small program with a staff of three people, none of whom have videography skills, and the cost of a professionally produced video—even a short one—was prohibitive given our minimal marketing budget. We brought it up to our Communications department, but without funding, the project never got off the ground. So, we added it to our future marketing wish list and went back to business as usual.

Fortunately, the old New England tradition of bartering for services is still alive and well in New Hampshire! A local videographer, who had produced commercials for a few law firms in our state, approached our Communications department to inquire about the possibility of exchanging videography services for advertising space in the New Hampshire Bar News. The Bar News editor, remembering our wish list, agreed to the exchange. Our wish had come true, but now we actually had to come up with some ideas.

When it came time to plot our storyline, we looked at several other LRS programs’ videos and decided on a humorous look at how people use search engines to find a lawyer. Since we view the Internet as our biggest competitor, we wanted to emphasize that looking online for an attorney can be time-consuming and frustrating.

In the 2015 Spring-Summer Dialogue article, “Reaching Online Legal Consumers at the Micro-Moment They Need You,” Ken Matejka pointed out that many of today’s legal consumers make contact with the LRS through a search engine on their smart phones. To an inexperienced legal consumer, scrolling through hundreds of lawyer names on a tiny screen on a smart phone is as time-consuming and potentially frustrating as paging through ad after ad in the telephone book. We wanted to extend the message to the legal consumer that the Lawyer Referral Service could save countless hours of frustrating research—and all it would take would be a brief five-to-ten-minute phone call or an email.

During a brainstorming session, we came up with the idea of a consumer trying to talk to his/her cell phone to find the right attorney, but getting all kinds of irrelevant answers. Since we were not in a financial position to hire actors, we enlisted the help of a staff member to play the frustrated consumer. We also asked a particularly satisfied client, who had recently raved about our service, if she would appear in the video to provide a short testimonial. She was flattered we asked, and readily agreed.

The video shoot itself took the better part of a day, but having a professional involved made this a painless process for LRS Staff, and in just a few weeks the video was “live” on our website. The Bar Association’s trusty Communications department sent out a press release and included it in the Bar’s e-bulletin, and we posted the video on all of our social media sites. It is still too early to count the number of hits and decide whether this project will result in more referrals. We have noticed, however, that attorneys are paying attention and several have inquired about panel membership.

With our small marketing budget, we never imagined we would ever have the resources to professionally create this marketing tool. By discussing our ideas (no matter how far-fetched) with other departments within our Bar Association, our request was remembered when an opportunity arose. In other words—the squeaky wheel! 

The video may be viewed at our website.

Sheila Vermacy

LRS/ Reduced-Fee Coordinator, New Hampshire Bar Association

Sheila Vermacy is the New Hampshire Bar Association’s LRS/ Reduced-Fee Coordinator

Linda Chadbourne

LRS Intake and Referral Specialist, New Hampshire Bar Association

Linda Chadbourne is the LRS Intake and Referral Specialist. This article was produced with participation from two other legal services staff members. Sheila Vermacy can be reached at [email protected] or 603-715-3235.