One of the next big things in law firm websites: Video done right.

One of the next big things in law firm websites: Video done right.

Everyone who knows Adam Stock, the Director of Marketing and Business Development at California law firm Allen Matkins, understands that he is an early adopter of most things technology.  He's a capable developer, program and website designer and, in his spare time, he is Chair of the upcoming 2011 Legal Marketing Technology Conference in San Francisco - September 15, 2011.

I wanted his opinion about a new product we are launching - a mobile app ("Velocity") that facilitates cross-selling and relevant conversations with prospects and clients just-in-time - in restaurants, bars, at conferences, meetings or in cabs.  Content Pilot is formally launching Velocity at the SF LMA Tech conference - you can read our release here.

But this blog post isn't about Velocity, it's about the extraordinary video strategy and campaign that Adam has created and led over the last year.  Allen Matkins' website is not exemplar and Adam would be the first to admit it.  (The firm is in the middle of a redesign, which will be designed around video.)  View the videos on today's site as diamonds in the rough.

In the 2010 AmLaw 100 Websites: Ten Foundational Best Practices research sponsored by Content Pilot and conducted one year ago, 28.5% of the AmLaw 100 firms then had video on their websites.  This research didn't grade the quality of the video, just whether firms had it - and you can see that few did.  With a handful of exceptions, the videos showed lawyers talking about a development in the law, lawyers talking about firm culture or firm leaders talking about their commitment to diversity, their communities or how nice their people are.  The production value ranges from quite terrible to pretty good - but they are mostly not compelling and not differentiating. Most of the lawyers - even those with the best and enthusiastic intentions - come across as boring and dry. And the videos are always too long.

Adam says, "None of our videos show attorneys speaking into the camera - no talking heads." 

How does one find the time to script and shoot one video, let alone dozens?  The secret is leveraging your content - doing video versions of work that you are already doing, material that you are already publishing. He states that they create four categories of videos:

  1. Centered around a legal alert announcing a change in regulation or law (they do written and video alerts)
  2. Business tips and insight (frequently appearing in print on a blog)
  3. Press releases (also found in print on the Allen Matkins website)
  4. The firm's involvment in their communities (also noted on the firm's website and on Allen Matkins community blog).

Generally, he continues, "We focus on information that you didn't know you needed to know." Adam laughs and says, "What I love about this is - these are my products!  This is what my firm sells."  He believes (as I do) that the connection between a lawyer and a buyer of legal services can happen so much faster in video - in video done right. Visitors to your website get a visual/audio preview of what it's like to do business with you.

Here are links to examples of each of the four video types on the Allen Matkins' site.

  1. Legal alert: AT&T v. Concepcion Supreme Court Decision Upholds Agreements to Arbitrate and Avoid Class Actions
  2. Business tips/insight: Green Commercial Buildings: Attracting Environmentally Conscious Tenants
  3. Press release: Allen Matkins/UCLA Anderson Forecast California Commercial Real Estate Survey: Light at the End of Tunnel
  4. Community involvement: Women's Leadership Roundtable merges networking, charity and fashion - Allen Matkins Women

Knowing the time and cost associated with video scripting and production, I asked Adam about his budget.  I didn't get a number, but he said that they did an initial test with six videos.  "They performed really well.  We buy them in bulk to save time and money - we are on our third 20-video contract."  Adam added, "They don't need the highest production value."  They have to be good, but they don't have to be music-video good. 

Allen Matkins hires an outside professional who scripts and shoots the videos. Given that they have worked on nearly 60 videos together, the process and production is extremely efficient now - the cost is half what it would be if he were producing a single video.  Adam effectively serves as the producer and is a part of every shoot.

Other firms do it differently. Adam is speaking on several panels in the next few months with two other in-house marketers who are as committed to video on their websites, but where the execution differs.  Aden Dauchess, Director of Digital Media at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, an AmLaw 100 firm, made the case for bringing the video resources and talent in-house (Womble's YouTube Channel).  Graig Cortelyou, the CMO of Tully Rinckey PLLC (an employment firm headquartered in Albany, New York), works with local television news media, such as the CBS affiliate, to develop segments for the TullyLegal.com site.  There are dozens of videos on Tully's YouTube channel.

Allen Matkins also hosts their videos on YouTube and the firm has also experimented with other distribution channels, such as releasing them on GlobeSt.com and sending them out as alerts. They track views, which typically range from 50 views on the low end to 500 for the most popular videos.

Law firms of all sizes can have a video strategy, but it must be done right. Remember that bad video is worse than no video. It might differentiate you, but not in the way you'd like.

Read more insight at the Law Firm 4.0 Blog.

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