A Message From Your Partners at Network Affiliates
We recognize that with the constantly changing Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, this is an unprecedented time for everyone—it’s also unchartered territory for your business.
As a dedicated partner to you and your law firm, we’re compelled to share our strategic thoughts on navigating the difficult road ahead.
Community Communication Guidance
Make no mistake, COVID-19 will impact every sector and industry. We don’t know what the world will look like following this pandemic, so it’s critical that your business is agile and willing to change with the needs of your community.
Right now, consumers are being bombarded with information on every news station, in their social media feeds and inboxes. It’s important that your communications and messaging emphasize your organization’s integrity without pandering to fear or opportunity.
If you feel compelled to communicate with your audience directly, whether via social media, in an email, or on TV, remember that people need to feel safe right now. You and your firm can help establish that safety by being a community supporter, a source of information, and a trusted brand.
What you say to your community, and how you say it, will impact the community’s perception of your brand well after the crisis is over. Creativity, compassion, and relevancy are important concepts to consider throughout the evolving COVID-19 situation:
- Creativity—messaging that mimics what competitors are saying is likely to get lost.
- Compassion—people cope differently with stress and anxiety. Be sensitive to the needs of your community.
- Relevancy—make sure the right message reaches the right people at the right time.
If you need help communicating the right words to the right people, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our in-house team includes creative and media experts who will ensure your message hits the mark on TV, social media, email, etc.
Let’s talk about intake, too. Intake communication has never been more important. With calls down as much as 80 percent in some markets, the outcome of each call matters more today than it did just a month ago.
Is your intake team anxious or preoccupied? How might these feelings translate on a call? What’s more, your team may be fielding questions they’re not prepared to answer. How are you helping them prepare?
Your intake team represents your brand on every single call. This is a golden opportunity to improve your intake process. Use this time to listen to your intake calls and mentor your intake team.
The people calling your law firm are undoubtedly worried, and the COVID-19 situation only makes matters worse. Be sensitive to the many ways people are coping with stress by preparing your intake team.
How Can Your Law Firm Make A Difference?
Many of our clients are already active in the community, providing college scholarships, free rides home, youth helmet programs, and much more.
Consider assessing how your law firm plans to utilize funds typically set aside for community outreach. Since we don’t know how long the COVID-19 crisis will last or what the lingering implications will be, think critically about what your community needs today; for example:
- As schools across the country shut down and move to online learning, some kids don’t have access to a computer or the internet at home. Reach out to your local school district and find out if children in your community need help getting geared up for online learning.
- In addition to teaching students, public schools provide 22 million children with free or reduced-price lunch. There are several organizations responding to this food crisis including Feeding America and No Kid Hungry. Donations to your local foodbank can also help ensure kids in your community don’t go hungry.
- Healthcare workers, police, and firefighters are working overtime and local restaurants are struggling. Consider buying frontline workers lunch or dinner from a local restaurant that participates in takeout or delivery options.
Business as usual won’t work right now—not for you, your practice, or your clients. Think about what your law firm planned to do this year in terms of outreach, and ask yourself: is this what my community needs right now?
More importantly, making a difference doesn’t mean a state-wide relief plan. In fact, the biggest difference you can make is how you care for your employees.
For many workers, this may be their first time working from home or adjusting to a virtual office. They may need supplies, hardware, or time to turn a guest room into a productive work space—and a lot of these things cost money. Make sure employees have what they need to do their jobs well at home.
Parents are also facing unique challenges as they juggle child care, home schooling, and round-the-clock family meals. Be flexible with their new schedule and they’ll find unique ways to be productive at home.
Be patient with employees as they make this transition. We don’t know how long social distancing and self-quarantine will be mandated—anticipating for the worst could be the safest bet. If working from home lasts longer than expected, your employees (and your business!) will be prepared.
Sadly, some law firms may face furloughs or employee layoffs, and we know the thought of this keeps you up at night. If you’re worried about taking care of your team, remember that employees can’t collect unemployment benefits unless they’re officially let go. Compelling employees to quit is not recommended, as they will undoubtedly have a difficult time securing new employment during the outbreak.
Doing right by your employees can make all the difference in the world—but if you have the means to do more for your community, think about what would make the biggest impact—this may mean pausing your firm’s annual charity events or programs and returning to them next year.
Digital Spaces Are Exploding
In addition to community outreach, there are alternative ways to reach out to your community. As social lives shift toward digital spaces, there are new opportunities to engage consumers online.
Leverage your brand on digital platforms like YouTube and Facebook.
YouTube, for example, has 2 billion logged-in monthly users and is the second most-preferred platform for watching video on TV screens among those aged 18 to 34. (The only platform that has greater viewership is Netflix and Netflix doesn’t run ads.)
Safety recommendations during COVID-19 may extend social distancing, which means consumers will turn to digital spaces for education, information, and entertainment. Your law firm can meet consumers in these virtual spaces with minimal spending and a large audience footprint.
Facebook is another digital space your law firm should explore right now. Facebook has powerful audience targeting tools that deliver extreme precision with even a modest advertising budget. Plus, Facebook is reporting a surge in usage across the globe due to the ongoing pandemic.
Use Facebook to test out new practice areas; we’ve seen great success with campaigns focused on nursing home abuse, medical malpractice, large truck accidents, and more.
Facebook advertising doesn’t need to be complicated or even service focused—in fact, a few kind words, an entertaining video, or a charitable announcement can foster community while maintaining brand recognition.
As we suggested in the first section, explore your creativity, be compassionate, and keep it relevant. YouTube and Facebook are great ways to reach out to your community because it’s where your community is right now.
The Elephant in the Room: Television Advertising
Social distancing and self-quarantine will undoubtedly impact the number of drivers on the road and, subsequently, the number of accident-related calls your office receives. Your biggest competitors, however, (the insurance companies) are ramping up their marketing.
Reports indicate quarantined consumers are using their extra time at home to review insurance policies, and insurance companies are responding by remaining steadfast in their TV advertising.
Now is a critical time to reflect on the creative commercials your law firm is running—if not auto accidents, this may be a good time to showcase other practice areas (e.g., large truck accidents, nursing home neglect/abuse, etc.).
We also encourage you to consider custom messaging that speaks to the COVID-19 situation, specifically. This is a great time to simply offer support to your community by letting them know they can still access quality legal services via phone, email, or virtual meeting.
Many of our clients have already taken advantage of our in-house creative and production capabilities to enhance their TV campaigns with relevant, timely messaging.
From everyone at Network Affiliates, we remain firmly committed to your brand and business as we embark together on the challenges ahead.
Please know that as your strategic media and marketing partner, we will continue to shepherd your investment throughout these trying times.
Stay home. Stay safe. Stay connected.