Promoting the profession

Tami SmithAs court reporters and captioners, we can do one important thing to ensure the future growth and success of our profession, and it is relatively simple: Talk about it. You’ve probably heard me say before that NCRA members’ grassroots efforts to talk about what they do for a living is, in my opinion, one of the most effective ways for us to attract fresh talent to the profession.

In this vein of promoting stenographic court reporting to both the public at large and the communities that use our services, I’d like to share with you two of the many initiatives happening at NCRA to spread the word about the profession. Both of these strategies, combined with members’ own grassroots promotional efforts, are already having a significant impact and are showing promise to be even more effective long into the future.

First, I’d like to talk to you about NCRA’s Strategic Alliances Task Force. As I’m sure you can imagine, there are countless associations and organizations that represent the consumers of our services — everything from legal associations representing lawyers, paralegals, court administrators, and others to organizations representing the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. These captive audiences offer us a targeted way to promote stenographic court reporting, which is why the Strategic Alliances Task Force was formed. This group of NCRA volunteers evaluates these types of organizations and looks for ways to partner with them. Sometimes we attend relevant conventions, and sometimes we offer to contribute articles or presentations if they’re in need of content. The goal of all of this interaction is to let these associations and organizations know that court reporters and captioners bring value to the table.

I’d also like to share with you a relatively new initiative at NCRA regarding our public outreach strategy. Public relations can be effective beyond measure for supplementing paid marketing efforts. Since NCRA doesn’t have a limitless budget for paid advertising, it’s essential for us to spread the word about our association and our profession through more cost-effective channels. Successful public relations efforts result in articles, radio spots, blogs, and television mentions in the editorial — and thus, free of charge — realm.

Thanks to a new public relations initiative at NCRA, we will be more active than ever before when it comes to communicating to the media our activities and contributions to society. Not only will we engage with media across the country for big campaigns such as the upcoming National Court Reporting and Captioning Week (for more information, see NCRA.org/awareness), but we’re also making noise about individual members’ accomplishments as well. Thanks to a new partnership with a Washington, D.C.-area public relations firm to help us distribute releases across the country, we are now able to issue a press release every time a member participates in the Veterans History Project and every time a member receives a RPR certification. That’s right — if you earn your RPR, NCRA will issue a press release on your behalf to the media in your geographical area. There’s no better way to spread the word about court reporters and captioners than to celebrate their successes.

As the strategy evolves, NCRA’s dedicated communications team will expand the press release program to include all of NCRA’s certifications and significant milestones and anniversaries of NCRA members. One small TV announcement or newspaper blurb at a time, members of the public will stop and think, “Hmmm… court reporters. I wonder if that would be a good option for my daughter/sister/cousin/me?” And that, my friends, can be more powerful than any amount of paid advertising.

If you receive an email from the public relations and communications team at NCRA, I encourage you to respond with the simple information they will need to issue a press release on your behalf. In celebrating your accomplishments, we celebrate the profession as a whole. That’s truly believing, dreaming, and inspiring.

Media watch

The following summaries are provided for information purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement from NCRA or anyone connected with NCRA. Links are provided for articles but may not be available at the time of publication.

HOW TO BECOME A FREELANCE COURT REPORTER

Published on the Stenographer Salary HQ website, an article called “How to Become a Freelance Court Reporter” discusses the steps as well as provides a link to what is required by state. The Stenographer Salary HQ website provides stenographer and court reporting wages and career information.

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LEGAL TECH SURVEY BY ABA

Evan Koblentz reported on Law Technology News (law.com) on July 26, 2012, that the American Bar Association’s 2012 Legal Technology Survey received more than 5,000 responses from attorneys. The survey showed insights about cloud computing, data backups, e-discovery, and social media.

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LEADING MEMBER OF ABA WARNS GOVERNMENTS AGAINST COURT CUTS

On July 9, 2012, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that on a visit to Australia, outgoing president of the American Bar Association mentioned that U.S. state courts have been left in a “dire situation” due to budget cuts. These budget cuts, some of which have run to hundreds of millions of dollars, have forced the closure of some courts. Cut have also led to bottlenecks in management of cases.

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FORBES LISTS COURT REPORTING AMONG TOP JOBS WITHOUT A FOUR-YEAR DEGREE

Forbes, in conjunction with MSNBC.com, named court reporting as one of the best jobs that doesn’t require a four-year degree. Stenographer/court reporter comes in at sixth on the list, with an average starting salary of $26,000 (a number that clearly is much too low), and employment growth of 14.10 percent. While Forbes only mentions the starting salary, it should be noted that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median salary for the profession to be a healthy $47,700 with a similarly positive growth outlook.

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NETFLIX SEEKS PERMISSION TO APPEAL ORDER TO COMPLY WITH ADA

The National Law Journal website reported on July 31, 2012, that Netflix asked a federal judge in Massachusetts for permission to appeal his ruling that the American Disabilities Act of 1990 requires the company to provide closed-captioning text for its web-only streaming video. The article states that Netflix filed a motion on July 27.

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STATE COURTS CONCERNED ABOUT LOSING JUDGES DUE TO NO SALARY GROWTH

In an article published on the law blog of the Wall Street Journal website on July 24, 2012, Chelsea Phipps reports that state courts are worried about experienced judges leaving, perhaps due to salaries that have flatlined over the past two years. The article states that judicial salaries are increasing at a yearly rate of less than 1 percent according to the National Center for State Court’s Survey of Judicial Salaries.

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HOBART COLLEGE OF COURT REPORTING RECEIVED $300,000 GRANT

In a post on August 1, 2012, on the Hobart Community College website, Deborah Laverty reported that Hobart College of Court Reporting in Indiana has received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education. In the article, Jay Vettickal, who serves as executive director for Hobart College of Court Reporting, states that the funding will augment the school’s training capacity, with the goal of increasing the number of graduates working in real time captioning jobs.

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