Marketing legal videographers

NCRA’s Certified Legal Videographers Council leaders Bruce Balmer, MBA, CLVS, Columbia, S.C., and Brian Clune, CLVS, San Anselmo, Calif., were joined by Jason Leven, CLVS, Washington, D.C., to present a conceptual overview of how and where to market legal video services during a session held at the association’s recent TechCon conference held April 11-13 in Atlanta. The panelists shared their experiences, practices, and insights with session attendees about an array of aspects related to successfully marketing a legal videography services business.

Define your geographical market

According to the panelists, professionals need to define where they plan to provide their services, for example, only in the downtown area of a single city, surrounding cities, one county or more, statewide, national, or international. In addition, they should determine their fees for other aspects of doing business including travel reimbursements, job referral fees, and cancellation charges at the same time as they determine their general service fees.

Determine what services to provide

Legal videographers have a wide range of areas where they can offer their services so it is important to identify the services and specialty areas where they plan to focus, such as depositions, day in the life videos, settlements, site visits, courtroom playbacks, or duplication and edition. They should also consider non-video services such as court reporting services, trial presentations, providing conference rooms, and a new trend called audio/videotape transcription where authorities want surveillance tapes transcribed.

Identify your competition

Striking out on your own can be exciting but to ensure you set your business up for success, it is important to identify your competition. Spend some research time to determine whether there are similar businesses in your area, how many there are, what areas they serve, and how healthy they are. In addition, determine what the standard rates are in your market area for the services you plan to provide and price accordingly, making sure you are not the cheapest guy in town or the highest, agreed the panelists.

Identify your customers

Among potential customers to target include local court reporters and court reporting firms, as these are who typically schedule depositions. The panelists suggested visiting local firms and asking if they have a videographer on staff and if so, letting them know that you are available if they need additional assistance. Other potential customers include fellow videographers, national court reporting firms, legal secretaries, and attorneys themselves.

Effective marketing tools

Effective marketing doesn’t always have to cost money, especially when it takes the form of networking. The panelists suggested new business owners take advantage of the opportunities and benefits of membership in professional associations related to their field of expertise including legal-related groups. Other cost-effective marketing tips presented included making yourself a resource by providing articles to professional newsletters and speaking at association meetings, civic organizations, and schools. Also, submit formal announcements to local and legal media outlets about new hires and new services you might now offer.

Direct marketing tools

According to the experts, direct marketing pieces such as postcards are an effective and cost efficient way to create name recognition within your market place. In addition, they recommended maintaining mailing lists of both existing clients and potential clients and use different messages when marketing to them.

TechCon 2014: Magnify your online presence

Self-employed and small business owners can cash in on the benefits of magnifying their online presence by using the same tactics and strategies as the big corporations, according to Sara Wood, CAE, director of NCRA’s marketing and membership department, and Steve Crandall, JD, CLVS, managing director and founder of ProMotion Arts, LLC, a full-spectrum new media company in Seattle, Wash. Wood and Crandall presented an insightful session to attendees about how to shore up their online branding and use such tools as Google analytics to help increase their Internet footprint.

According to Wood, individuals should know first and foremost how their online brands reflect them. She explained that a personal online brand is created by the social media sites individuals use such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

“You have a personal brand whether you like it or not, and it impacts your professional brand online. Your image on social media will define who you are. Know what you are putting out there before setting up an online presence for your business. Know how others perceive you and what they are saying about you,” Wood said.

Among the tips Wood shared to help improve online images (including maintaining them properly) were:

  • Define your image and your brand, and stick to it.
  • Conduct an audit of existing social media presence to know what is out there.
  • Make conscious decisions about what to and not to post.
  • Don’t feed the trolls or those searching for a fight.
  • Ask friends to not post content to your social media outlets without your consent.
  • Review your websites and social media outlets regularly to ensure efficiency and functionality.

“How you present yourself online matters to your business and to those looking to hire you,” Wood said.

During the second part of the presentation, Crandall provided attendees with a tutorial on leveraging Google by creating a Google account at He and Wood explained how businesses could set up affordable targeted and segmented advertising campaigns through the system and track how many hits their sites are receiving and who is visiting them.

“You can lose business just as easy as gain business online. You need a website. If you don’t have one, you are losing business,” Crandall said.

Today at TechCon: Trial Presentation 101

According to Tim Piganelli, CEO Piganelli & Associates, Phoenix, Ariz., the most effective trial presentations — presentations where a reporter’s transcript and a videographer’s footage come together to create a polished final product — are those that effectively tap into the way jurors learn and retain information. Piganelli, who is recognized as one of the country’s top trial and discovery consultants in the areas of trial strategies, graphics and animation, trial presentation, courtroom technology, eDiscovery, and litigation support, shared his insights about the art of visual advocacy and creating trial presentations that are engaging, concise, and deliver a message, during a session held at NCRA’s TechCon 2014.

According to Piganelli, presenting evidence using technology that generates creative and engaging trial presentations has in part been driven by budget cuts in the courtroom that have resulted in limited time being allotted to some cases. “Trial presentations have decreased the amount of time a case can take from start to finish by 25 percent to 50 percent in some cases. They are a viable way to make the evidence presented in a way that jurors will stay engaged, learn, and retain information more effectively,” he said.

Piganelli told attendees that if they are planning to offer trial presentation services, it is imperative they understand that the general public and lawyers each learn differently, and that it is in the best interest of all parties to be sure litigators recognize that if they are not communicating appropriately to all jurors based on their demographics, then they are not getting to all of them.

Using a series of studies related to the way people learn based on age group and thinking processes, Piganelli pointed out that older jurors would be more likely to gather information by reading newspapers or watching television, for example, while younger generations are more apt to gather the same information through the Internet. Studies of the use of visual advocacy have indicated that using graphics in trial presentations can aid in helping jurors from all age groups to retain more information about the evidence in a case than by just listening to an attorney speak.

Other tips Piganelli offered to help create successful trail presentations included:

  • Know that you will need to cull down the evidence presented in trial and understand that the bottom line is all about jury comprehension.
  • Know that testimony, whether by video or text, is critical to all cases.
  • An effective trial presentation paints a picture and tells a story and does so through charts, timelines, and graphics.

NCRA’s 2014 TechCon coverage

This year’s TechCon, held April 11-13 in Atlanta, was marked by cutting-edge sessions led by some of the most dynamic and innovative experts in the court reporting and legal videography professions. Explore continuing coverage of the event with the stories below.

TechCon Today: 90 killer apps in 90 minutes

TechCon Today: The basics of realtime scoping

TechCon Today: Beyond deposition video

NCRA President Nancy Varallo: TechCon is the must-attend event for cutting-edge technology

TechCon Today: Trial Presentation 101

TechCon Today: Magnify your online presence

TechCon Today: Marketing legal videographers



NCRA President Nancy Varallo: TechCon is the must-attend event for cutting-edge technology

NCRA President Nancy Varallo gives her welcoming address at TechCon.

NCRA President Nancy Varallo gives her welcoming remarks at TechCon.

In welcoming remarks to attendees at NCRA’s TechCon 2014 taking place in Atlanta, April 11-13, President Nancy Varallo called the conference “the must-attend event” for those who are interested in cutting-edge technology and the specialized programs the association offers—programs like the Realtime Systems Administrator workshop and the Certified Legal Videography Specialist program.

She urged attendees to take advantage of TechCon’s diverse audience, which includes court reporters, legal videographers who support stenographic court reporters, and legal professions who are attending to broaden their technological horizons.

“There’s always change afoot in our marketplace and we need to keep pace, and how better to stay abreast of market trends than mingling with the technological leaders in our profession,” she said.

Read Nancy Varallo’s welcoming remarks here.

TechCon Today: Beyond deposition video

CLVSs are discovering a new world of ancillary video services beyond the traditional legal arena. NCRA members Don Cely, CLVS, from Greenville, S.C., and Steve Crandall, JD, CLVS, from Seattle, Wash., presented a session at NCRA’s TechCon that explored some of the latest avenues where video services are being tapped, including video wills, site surveys, accident reconstruction for animation purposes, asset inventory, and corporate videos. The session also covered tips to ensure that the making of day-in-the-life videos, which are increasingly being used in injury-related cases, take into consideration the dignity of the patient and caregiver who might be videotaped, the use of natural sound and light, and working closely with the hiring attorney to make certain that what the video reflects is accurate.

Watch next week’s JCR Weekly and upcoming issues of the JCR to read more about sessions at TechCon 2014.

TechCon Today: The basics of realtime scoping

Christine Phipps, RPR, talks about scoping at TechCon

Christine Phipps, RPR, talks about scoping at TechCon

Christine Phipps, RPR, from West Palm Beach, Fla., a veteran when it comes to working with realtime scopists, shared some insights and tips with attendees at TechCon about successfully working with realtime scopists. Phipps provided the audience with an overview of how she works with two realtime scopists located in Alaska and California respectively, as well as a proofreader. Among her tips: the realtime provider and the scopist must have the same document settings such as margins, paragraphs, and tabs; compression settings need to be checked so there is enough time for audio to be pushed up to the Internet; access to good quality audio is critical to ensure scopists can deliver the highest quality product.

Watch next week’s JCR Weekly and upcoming issues of the JCR to read more about sessions at TechCon 2014.

TechCon Today: 90 killer apps in 90 minutes

Joe Cerda, CLVS, leads 90 apps in 90 minutes.

Joe Cerda, CLVS, leads 90 killer apps in 90 minutes.

Attendees at today’s TechCon meeting in Atlanta were treated to a fast-paced and entertaining session presented by Kevin Daniel, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, from Las Vegas, Nev., and Joe Cerda, CLVS, from Dallas, Texas, that covered a wide variety of apps both fun and applicable to the court reporting and captioning profession. Among those reviewed included Visual Thesaurus, which allows users to type in a word and generate a list of words that connect to the search word. The app even color codes the words based on their use (i.e. noun, verb, adjective) in the English language. Other apps reviewed include Been Verified, which locates personal info on individuals, and iTunes U, which provides a free library of college-level podcasts covering an array of topics.

Watch next week’s JCR Weekly and upcoming issues of the JCR to read more about sessions at TechCon 2014.

TechCon’s Realtime Systems Administrator program offers the ultimate in training

Court reporters, legal videographers, and other legal technology professionals looking to up their game with the realtime services they provide to clients should make plans to attend the Realtime Systems Administrators Workshop at NCRA’s 2014 TechCon April 11 – 13 in Atlanta, Ga.  The workshop is designed to equip attendees with the technical knowledge and troubleshooting skills needed to stand above the crowd. The two-day workshop concludes with NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator Exam.

“The Realtime Systems Administrator program gives you the ultimate experience in training and knowledge, enabling you to have confidence in setting up your equipment and in your ability to troubleshoot realtime connections,” says Jim Woitalla, RDR, CRI, from Minnetonka, Minn., co-chair of NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator Certificate Committee.

Court reporters, legal videographers, and other legal technology professionals who are not quite ready to attend the Realtime Systems Administrator Workshop can take advantage of NCRA’s new Realtime Systems Administrator Prep Course also being offered at this year’s TechCon. The prep course is designed to provide attendees with the information they will need to ensure success when taking the Realtime Systems Administrator Workshop and the Realtime Systems Administrator Exam.

“The Realtime Systems Administrator Prep Course is perfect for folks interested in boosting their skills in the realtime environment but who have not had the opportunity to yet to expand their abilities. Attendees of this course can expect to take away with them a better understanding of how their computer thinks, what makes it tick, and how it talks to others,” says Keith Lemons, RPR, CRR, from Brentwood, Tenn., course instructor and a member of NCRA’s Technology Education Committee.

NCRA’s TechCon 2014 is being held at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead, Atlanta, Ga. For information, including more about the scheduled workshops or sessions, or to register, please visit

CLVSs keep pace with technology changes

Leaders of NCRA’s Certified Legal Videography Specialist program took the opportunity to update agency owners about the benefits of sending videographers to CLVS educational training while at the 2014 Firm Owners Executive Conference held earlier this month in Orlando, Fla. In addition to training videographers to work in lock-step with court reporters during depositions, Gene Betler and Bruce Balmer, co-chairs of NCRA’s CLVS Council, reported that the CLVS program began undergoing changes in curriculum three years ago to ensure material presented to candidates addressed the transition from analog to digital, including issues such as dealing with multiple feeds and other technological changes happening in the swiftly evolving legal videography niche of the marketplace.

“We’re forward-looking, and we plan on staying that way,” Balmer said about the CLVS Council and its program. “We’re doing everything we possibly can to make your legal videographers know how to harness change in the video industry.”

Balmer and Betler also noted that the legal industry continues to change dramatically and the CLVS program has updated content and educational offerings to make sure legal videographers know how to make good purchase decisions regarding equipment to maximize a firm’s investments in legal videography service offerings.

“If you have not sent a videographer to a CLVS certification program in the last four years, you [should] send them this time,” Balmer noted. “They will know what they need to take your firm into the future with respect to legal video.”

The next CLVS educational seminar takes place in conjunction with NCRA’s 2014 TechCon event being held April 11-13 in Atlanta, Ga. For more information about the program, visit

Watch for more coverage of the 2014 Firm Owners Executive Conference in future issues of the JCR Weekly and in the April issue of the JCR.