Podcasts: Law Firm Media With a Personal Touch
BY John Majeski STAFF CONTRIBUTOR
Connecting with people is a huge component of your practice, whether it is in person, over the phone or — more importantly — over the web.
One great way to do that is via podcasts. Whitney Hoffman is a podcasting veteran and says the medium lends a personal touch that cannot be achieved through writing.
“When you hear someone’s voice, you really feel you’re getting to know them,” she said. “The best thing about it is it’s a very engaging format. It’s like running an NPR station.”
Hoffman, who earned a law degree from Dickinson Law School, should know. She is quite active in digital media and podcasting. Here is a list of her podcasting activities, according to her site, www.whitneyhoffman.com:
- Podcamp and The Podcamp Foundation – As well as having helped organize a number of Podcamps to date, including Podcamp NYC 1.0 & 2.0, Podcamp Boston 2.0 & 3.0, and lead organizer for Podcamp Philly along with Bill Rowland, she is the acting Director of Operations for the Podcamp Foundation. She is also organizing the Open sessions at the Web 2.0 Expo in NYC in association with Tech Web.
- The LD Podcast – a podcast about learning and learning disabilities geared towards parents and teachers.
- The Parent’s Eye View – a blog about everything else, largely non-parenting in nature. (Posts from Parent’s Eye View have recently been transferred over to www.WhitneyHoffman.com)
- OB GYN To Go – This is a podcast she produces for medical resident education for the OB GYN Department of Christiana Care. They have done a study about the effectiveness of using podcasts in resident education, and have submitted an abstract for publication on the subject.
Podcasts are a series of audio or video files that people often subscribe to and download. Why should you use them? It can help with any content strategy, Hoffman said. The idea is to offer quality content and the possibilities are endless.
“The important thing is making sure it’s something people want to hear and that it will meet your needs,” Hoffman said. “You have to have stuff to talk about. Just talking to talk is not great.”
You will want to riff on topics that are most relevant to your practice area. Perhaps you can spin a podcast from a current event or discuss seasonal topics that affect your area of expertise. But some lawyers may not be willing to take on such a task.
“It’s like doctors podcasting. They usually are too busy to think this stuff out,” Hoffman said. “Attorneys are the same way.”
Putting together quality podcasts on a consistent basis should be thought of as a project because it is, and some lawyers are not only under a time crunch but lawyers by nature are often cautious – certainly not risk-takers. Yet more and more lawyers are sticking their toes in, said Hoffman, adding that the podcasting community is a passionate one.
“When I met certain podcasters in person, it was like meeting Mick Jagger,” Hoffman said with a laugh.
Hoffman has several tips to offer attorneys who want to try podcasting:
- Disclaimers. It should be stated that the podcast does not constitute an attorney-client relationship and laws in states may vary.
- Music. Many podcasts have an introduction with some kind of jingle. Hoffman said you should be sure to use royalty-free music or music created by yourself to avoid any copyright issues.
- Content. Make sure it is useful and informative. Listeners will see right through uninformative, promotional talk.
- Length. Make sure listeners “get their fill” of the topic, but do not make the podcast so long that you lose your audience. Hoffman recommends shooting for 15-20 minutes, which fits in nicely with average commute times for listeners or treadmill workouts – which is how many people enjoy podcasts, Hoffman said.