The nation is Taking Note

NCRA’s publicity campaign garners widespread attention.

 By Christina Lewellen

In September, NCRA launched what is easily the most comprehensive publicity campaign the association has ever waged on behalf of the stenographic court reporting and captioning profession. Armed with an independently produced research report that calls for a wave of new opportunities in five short years, the association’s Take Note campaign combined clever paid marketing opportunities with difficult-to-secure public relations efforts to shift the public’s perception of the future of the profession.

The results, to date, have been impressive. Though the year-long campaign is still in its early phases, the nationwide attention has been notable. On the heels of the Wall Street Journal’s August coverage of NCRA’s speed and realtime contests in San Francisco, the remainder of 2014 was marked with some significant media hits, resulting in millions of awareness impressions across the country. In plain speak, this means that more people than ever before have court reporting and captioning on their radar as a profession worth considering.

PUBLIC RELATIONS SUCCESSES

While articles and television spots can never be guaranteed, public relations is a powerful component of the Take Note campaign. Not only is media coverage free of charge, but readers and viewers consider editorial information more credible than paid advertisements.

Working closely with an award-winning public relations firm, NCRA has issued a series of press releases and media alerts touting the messaging of the Take Note campaign (for more background on the campaign, see the article in the September 2014 issue of the JCR). These message points include the new job opportunities that will increase in a few short years, the flexibility and earning potential that the field offers, and the ways in which stenographic court reporters serve the community at large. Clearly, the key points are resonating with the media, as NCRA was featured on the number one rated morning show, Fox and Friends, in early October on the network’s “On the Job Hunt” segment. The report highlighted various venues in which stenographic reporters can work and noted that starting salaries often rival other professions that require a four-year degree. In November, CNBC aired a story in its career segment showcasing court reporting as a career and highlighting the coming need for qualified candidates to fill jobs over the next five years. The story featured NCRA President Sarah Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CBC; NCRA member and student Katherine Schilling; and Margaret Ortiz, CRI, director of the West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif., discussing the benefits of the profession including potential earnings, flexible benefits, travel opportunities, and court reporting programs. A similar segment ran as part of CNBC’s Nightly Business Report.

Other articles highlighting the positive aspects of court reporting as a profession have recently run in California’s Daily Breeze and San Gabriel’s Valley Tribune. The Chicago Sun Times and its affiliates profiled the profession and posted online a supplemental video featuring Chicago-area professionals.

The association continues to work closely with other national media outlets that demonstrated interest in the Take Note story. The next phase of the public relations effort includes reaching out to more regional media outlets, particularly those in the states projecting the greatest demand (California, Texas, Illinois, and New York).

INNOVATIVE PLACEMENT

In addition to public relations efforts, the Take Note campaign features a disciplined paid media campaign. NCRA certainly doesn’t have a budget akin to Target or Apple, so it’s important to invest the limited pool of advertising dollars in venues that prove to have viable results.

One avenue for this targeted approach is the American School Counselors Association’s magazine. The full-page ad touting court reporting as a career lands right in the middle of this audience’s field of vision on a monthly basis, raising the awareness that school counselors have about opportunities in the profession.

The campaign also targets potential students directly with a series of tried-and-true Google ads and Facebook ads. From September through November alone, the Take Note campaign was displayed in these venues approximately 12 million times, and more than 27,000 people visited crTakeNote.com to learn more about the messaging of the advertisements.

Since the launch of the campaign last fall, hundreds of leads have funneled through the site to NCRA certified and participating court reporting programs. The goal, over the course of the campaign, is to see enrollment increase in court reporting programs across the country.

 #StenoTweets

One of the more innovative components of the Take Note campaign is the #StenoTweets outreach on Twitter. Plenty of folks in the profession do not begin to profess an understanding of Twitter, but it’s hard to argue that Twitter is where the next generation of court reporters and captioners are having meaningful conversations. With that in mind, NCRA launched #StenoTweets, an aspect of the Take Note campaign that allows the social media team to have one-on-one conversations with young people who are struggling with career-related decisions.

In a nutshell, the social media team on the Take Note campaign is actively researching tweets and monitoring Twitter activity surrounding those who indicate they are searching for a job or dealing with college and/or career selection issues. If, for example, a Twitter user tweets something like “Why is choosing a career so difficult?” or “I hate that you’ve basically got to start choosing your career path from the age of like 17-18. I change my mind so many times,” the social media team has a response strategy to communicate directly with potential students.

Working in conjunction with NCRA president Sarah Nageotte, custom responses combining both steno and its English translation encourage students to consider court reporting as they weigh these career-related decisions (see example).

While the social media strategists certainly can’t respond to all Twitter users, the #StenoTweets campaign features more than 15 canned responses that work in a variety of conversational scenarios to point would-be students toward crTakeNote.com.  This type of direct conversation resonates with younger audiences and may capture the attention of those who aren’t aware of the opportunities in the stenographic court reporting space.

NEXT STEPS

As the holiday season came and went at the end of 2014, the Take Note campaign conserved its resources (it’s pretty difficult to get anyone’s attention amid the shopping frenzy, even for those companies and organizations with millions of dollars available for advertising). Now, with the buzz surrounding the 2015 Court Reporting & Captioning Week and students gearing up to make decisions about their post-high-school life, the Take Note campaign is ramping back up with its targeted placement strategy.

In addition to the relentless pursuit of regional media coverage, the campaign will continue to focus on social media engagement and targeted print and online ads. Publicity-worthy events, presentations, and other resources are also in the works, so stay tuned to crTakeNote.com and TheJCR.com for more information as the campaign unfolds.

Christina Lewellen is NCRA’s Senior Director of Marketing and Communications. She can be reached at clewellen@ncra.org.