The traits, tone and temperament that will make a great face for your firm
A spokesperson for any legal brand must wear a lot of hats these days. If leveraged correctly, this person will not only represent your law firm on TV, but may also set the tone for your corporate blog, social profile, speaking engagements, interviews and more.
Because communication comes in so many forms—especially with the proliferation of digital content owned by law firms—a spokesperson must not only fit what your legal brand wants to represent, but also be able to handle all the important tasks and deliverables that come along with taking on such a significant role.
Like many lawyers, who are versed in the rules of law but may lack the confidence and skills for uncovering and anointing an advertising spokesperson, you may be wondering what you should be looking for in the first place. There are many factors to consider:
- If we don’t have an obvious “talking head,” how do we scout or “interview” for a spokesperson?
- Do we have someone who can represent the universality of the firm in a consistent and calm way?
- Is the person we’ve identified passionate enough to make a statement and move people emotionally, but serious enough to show we mean business?
- Does having a male or female representative matter in our industry, region or type of law?
- Should we be looking for someone younger who might better represent the future of our law firm?
- If this person can deliver a coherent presentation on technical aspects of law, does it mean he or she can adequately relate to our prospective clients?
- Do they know our law firm inside and out, or is that deep knowledge irrelevant if they can connect with our audience?
- Do we have someone who can really speak and balance timing, inflection and even subtle humor?
- Can our spokesperson act quickly on his or her feet and remain personable, humble and lighthearted even when things go wrong?
- Is this person someone that our brother or mother or nephew would believe and find not only engaging but also credible?
OK, that’s a lot of questions. We’ll try to address as many aspects of finding the right spokesperson as we can to fuel your mission to pinpoint the right person in an educated, systematic way.
From single-sided talking head to multifaceted messenger
There’s arguably no segment more tied to the “talking head” spokesperson than TV advertising for lawyers. This traditional tactic worked in the past when the legal space was less crowded and attorneys were first noodling out how to best demonstrate their prowess on the big screen. (Lawyers were only granted the ability to advertise on TV in 1977, after a U.S Supreme court ruled Arizona’s state ban on legal advertising a violation of free speech.) However, today spokespeople are increasingly tasked with using their personalities and public-speaking skills in entirely new ways on TV—and beyond.
For example, instead of sitting in front of a camera for a one-way conversation, where the talking head reeled off the law firm’s extensive history, biggest wins and top-ranking lawyers, modern TV marketing tactics may require a law firm spokesperson to introduce a real-life scenario of an accident victim; play a character role; interview a former client; and consistently set the brand tone on the airwaves (and the internet).
As TV advertising for lawyers has shifted to increasingly more creative strategies in effort to outfox rather than outtalk the competition, spokespeople must be not only great conversationalists, but inspiring, empathetic and engaging communicators.
Finding that ideal representative can be a challenge, often because this spokesperson may no longer be the most obvious person in the law firm—the oldest member, for example, or the hot-shot lawyer who just joined the team, or the astute attorney who can network her way through a room in style. It may the person who can wear the most hats—and make it look easy in all of them.
So what traits do modern-day spokespeople have in common?
Passion. These are people who are deeply vested in what they do. They are in law for a clear reason and have navigated to your law firm for a specific purpose. They demonstrate passion—a constant, curious drive for self-improvement and knowledge—in everything they do, even outside of the legal profession.
Creativity. Top spokespeople can think out of the box—and do it very quickly on their feet. They are not so rigid in their thinking that they can’t take direction, see the value in expert advice or shift on the fly. Creativity also pairs with compassion, a critical element of connecting with a viewer of advertising. When you are open to seeing beyond a set pathway, lifestyle or stereotype, you may more easily find compassion for others—ultimately, the clients lawyers want to serve.
Humor. While lawyers certainly must tread lightly in this territory, often the best-performing spokespeople are naturally witty and have a knack for using humor only when and where it’s appropriate. Subtle, situational humor can work wonders for putting others at ease, delivering a poignant message, connecting with audiences on a personal level and even disrupting the status quo in a memorable way.
Calm. It is possible to be both passionate and calm. Creative and centered. Humorous yet cool under pressure. It is the people who employ the traits mentioned above when necessary, but ultimately operate from a center of calm that can send a consistent, believable message that will in turn create the kind of client loyalty law firms count on.
How about the actual innate or learned skills necessary to become a spokesperson for an entire law firm?
Tone. This could be anything from a deeply resonating and memorable vocal pitch to a friendly, girl-next-door tone that is instantly relatable. Just listen to the radio. It drives home the different voices and talent used for different advertising messages. Decide what your spokesperson is “saying” through his or her tone. What impression does it make? Does it fit your legal brand? Is it credible? Does it make people feel comfortable?
Timing. As the best comedians know, timing is everything. While most people associate timing—such as being able to deliver a punch line appropriately, pausing at the right moment for dramatic effect and using body language to change the tempo of your speech—with a natural ability, that’s not entirely accurate. Effective public speakers practice timing and dial it in over time, as can any spokesperson with the will and drive to make messages more powerful.
Connection. Everyone has had the experience of connecting deeply with something a speaker has said or demonstrated. That’s exactly what you want to do with your audiences in advertising: connect. Connection comes through emotion and empathy. Truly gifted spokespeople have the ability to connect through storytelling (for example, sharing a personal or universal fear or hope); through emotion (for example, feeling or showing sentimentality outwardly); and through empathy for other people (for example, demonstrating something deeper than compassion in carefully chosen words, physical gestures or voice inflection).
Expression. How a spokespeople express themselves goes way beyond words. This is about physical energy, posture, body gestures, vocal range, confidence and so much more. While we think of fully “expressive” people as “filling up a room,” that doesn’t always have to be result. Your spokesperson doesn’t have to be the loudest, boldest or most dramatic person in the room. But the person you choose to represent your law firm must be uniquely expressive—in a way that always leaves an impression.
Need more ideas for turning up your TV and overall marketing advertising? We at Network Affiliates can help you with plenty of tips on pinpointing a spokesperson, plus in-house creative, production and media-planning to handle all your firms advertising needs. Call us at (888) 461-1016 for a FREE confidential evaluation of your Law firm’s current marketing.
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