NCRA member named Employee of the Year at Brooklyn Supreme Court

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Brooklyn Daily Eagle (N.Y.) reported on Oct. 6 that NCRA member and senior court reporter Enika Bodnar, RPR, CRI, was named the Employee of the Year at the Brooklyn Supreme Court. Bodnar has been working in the court system since July 1996 and started at Brooklyn Supreme Court in March 2007.

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No one is recording what happens in family law court anymore

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Voice of San Diego (Calif.) reported on Oct. 9 that the city’s Superior Court is no longer providing court reporters for family law proceedings, which means there is no verbatim, written record of what happens in court. Family law attorneys say the move will disproportionally affect low and middle-income families who have complaints before the court.

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San Diego Superior Court to stop providing court reporters for family law matters

San Diego Superior Court further decreases court reporter services

How a house fire burned up a man’s murder conviction

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyWSB Radio, Atlanta, Ga., reported on Oct. 4 that a man serving life for murder had his conviction tossed out by Georgia’s Supreme Court because recordings and notes from his trial were destroyed in a fire at the home of the court reporter.

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Reporteras de la corte: Una profesión bien pagada, pero poco conocida/Court reporting: A well-paying but little-known profession

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyA Sept. 7 article in the Spanish publication La Opinión highlights NCRA members Alma Zapata, RPR; Camille Márquez; and Adriana Montañez, who are all officials in Southern California. The article, which is in Spanish, discusses how each of them came to reporting as well as the benefits of a career in reporting, including salary potential, flexibility, and the opportunity to learn something new every day. The article also suggests that being bilingual is an advantage to learning steno.

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NCRA attends CTC, keeps profession relevant

Set in a moderately busy vendor hall, two women in professional garb speak with a few men who are visiting the booth. One of the women is seated at a steno machine. On the table are flyers and propped up iPads.

NCRA President Christine J. Willette (seated) and NCRA Secretary-Treasurer Debra A. Dibble speak with attendees at the 2017 Court Technology Conference.

NCRA was proud to host a booth in the expo hall at the Court Technology Conference (CTC) held Sept. 12-14, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The National Center for State Courts holds the biennial conference, which is the world’s premier event showcasing the developments in court technology. The event draws more than 1,500 court professionals from around the nation.

Volunteers at the NCRA booth at this year’s CTC event included NCRA President Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC; Secretary-Treasurer Debra A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC; Director of Professional Development Programs Cynthia Bruce Andrews; and Government Relations Manager Matthew Barusch. Other volunteers included:

  • Rockie Dustin, RPR, a freelancer in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Phoebe Moorhead, RPR, CRR, a freelancer in North Ogden, Utah
  • Laura Robinson, RPR, an official in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Laurie Shingle, RPR, CMRS, a freelancer in Pleasant View, Utah
  • Pattie Walker, RPR, an official in Holladay, Utah

The NCRA representatives used the opportunity to demonstrate to attendees the professional advantage of using stenographic court reporters as well as display the latest technology in realtime reporting. They also had the opportunity to speak to judges, IT professionals, and other court professionals.

“We experienced great interactions with court IT attendees. The lack of certified stenographic reporters to cover courts was a common theme expressed by many visitors to our booth. They’re really feeling the shortage,” said Willette. “They all love realtime. Many of them who use realtime said they can’t live without it. One judge called her reporter right on the spot to make sure they knew about realtime to the cloud,” she added.

The CTC serves as the venue for unveiling the latest developments in court technology to the court-professionals community, giving NCRA a prime opportunity to promote the gold standard of court reporting.

“The potentially monumental contacts that can be made at CTC are innumerable and invaluable in view of the broad expanse of crucial decision-makers who attend,” said Dibble. “We met with judges, attorneys, IT personnel, court reporters, and vendors of litigation services and technologies to court systems — everyone is looking for ways to be more effective in their roles to more efficiently execute the judicial process,” she added.

Willette and Dibble both agree that having the opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of stenographic court reporters to those charged with implementing court-technology services helps to open doors and inspire ideas to incorporate stenographic skills into the products they offer. Attending the CTC also helps to keep NCRA members relevant as technologies evolve.

“It is imperative that NCRA be a part of that solution-finding process and be visible to every facet of this field. We spent our time listening and learning about the interests and needs of attendees, then sharing with them how we can provide solutions to their needs and how our services create efficiencies to their processes,” Dibble said.

The next Court Technology Conference will be in September 2019 in New Orleans, La. For more information, visit ctc2017.org.

San Diego Superior Court to stop providing court reporters for family law matters

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyTV station KUSI, San Diego, Calif., reported on Aug. 3 that effective next month, the San Diego Superior Court will no longer provide official court reporters in family-law matters for domestic-violence restraining order hearings or “request for order’’ hearings of 40 minutes or less.

Read more.

Similar stories:

San Diego Superior Court further decreases court reporter services

No one is recording what happens in family law court anymore

Delays in court cases lead to class action suit

The Amsterdam News, New York, N.Y., reported on May 10 that several attorneys have filed a class action lawsuit against officials as a result of months and sometimes even years-long delays in the cases being heard for residents of the Bronx who have been arrested for a misdemeanor charge. The delays in part are being blamed on lack of a court reporter.

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Departments make 2016 budget requests

The LewisboroLedger.com, Lewisboro, N.Y., reported on Oct. 16 that town Justice Marc Seedorf recently presented his and Justice Susan Simon’s request for $156,000 to run their department for 2016, which included two increases. Seedorf said he planned to offset the costs with savings on court stenographers but noted that the town’s decision, a few years ago, to retain two full-time court clerks had benefited the town’s finances and the functioning of the court. He thanked officials for keeping them on board.

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The nation is Taking Note

NCRA’s publicity campaign garners widespread attention.

 By Christina Lewellen

In September, NCRA launched what is easily the most comprehensive publicity campaign the association has ever waged on behalf of the stenographic court reporting and captioning profession. Armed with an independently produced research report that calls for a wave of new opportunities in five short years, the association’s Take Note campaign combined clever paid marketing opportunities with difficult-to-secure public relations efforts to shift the public’s perception of the future of the profession.

The results, to date, have been impressive. Though the year-long campaign is still in its early phases, the nationwide attention has been notable. On the heels of the Wall Street Journal’s August coverage of NCRA’s speed and realtime contests in San Francisco, the remainder of 2014 was marked with some significant media hits, resulting in millions of awareness impressions across the country. In plain speak, this means that more people than ever before have court reporting and captioning on their radar as a profession worth considering.

PUBLIC RELATIONS SUCCESSES

While articles and television spots can never be guaranteed, public relations is a powerful component of the Take Note campaign. Not only is media coverage free of charge, but readers and viewers consider editorial information more credible than paid advertisements.

Working closely with an award-winning public relations firm, NCRA has issued a series of press releases and media alerts touting the messaging of the Take Note campaign (for more background on the campaign, see the article in the September 2014 issue of the JCR). These message points include the new job opportunities that will increase in a few short years, the flexibility and earning potential that the field offers, and the ways in which stenographic court reporters serve the community at large. Clearly, the key points are resonating with the media, as NCRA was featured on the number one rated morning show, Fox and Friends, in early October on the network’s “On the Job Hunt” segment. The report highlighted various venues in which stenographic reporters can work and noted that starting salaries often rival other professions that require a four-year degree. In November, CNBC aired a story in its career segment showcasing court reporting as a career and highlighting the coming need for qualified candidates to fill jobs over the next five years. The story featured NCRA President Sarah Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CBC; NCRA member and student Katherine Schilling; and Margaret Ortiz, CRI, director of the West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif., discussing the benefits of the profession including potential earnings, flexible benefits, travel opportunities, and court reporting programs. A similar segment ran as part of CNBC’s Nightly Business Report.

Other articles highlighting the positive aspects of court reporting as a profession have recently run in California’s Daily Breeze and San Gabriel’s Valley Tribune. The Chicago Sun Times and its affiliates profiled the profession and posted online a supplemental video featuring Chicago-area professionals.

The association continues to work closely with other national media outlets that demonstrated interest in the Take Note story. The next phase of the public relations effort includes reaching out to more regional media outlets, particularly those in the states projecting the greatest demand (California, Texas, Illinois, and New York).

INNOVATIVE PLACEMENT

In addition to public relations efforts, the Take Note campaign features a disciplined paid media campaign. NCRA certainly doesn’t have a budget akin to Target or Apple, so it’s important to invest the limited pool of advertising dollars in venues that prove to have viable results.

One avenue for this targeted approach is the American School Counselors Association’s magazine. The full-page ad touting court reporting as a career lands right in the middle of this audience’s field of vision on a monthly basis, raising the awareness that school counselors have about opportunities in the profession.

The campaign also targets potential students directly with a series of tried-and-true Google ads and Facebook ads. From September through November alone, the Take Note campaign was displayed in these venues approximately 12 million times, and more than 27,000 people visited crTakeNote.com to learn more about the messaging of the advertisements.

Since the launch of the campaign last fall, hundreds of leads have funneled through the site to NCRA certified and participating court reporting programs. The goal, over the course of the campaign, is to see enrollment increase in court reporting programs across the country.

 #StenoTweets

One of the more innovative components of the Take Note campaign is the #StenoTweets outreach on Twitter. Plenty of folks in the profession do not begin to profess an understanding of Twitter, but it’s hard to argue that Twitter is where the next generation of court reporters and captioners are having meaningful conversations. With that in mind, NCRA launched #StenoTweets, an aspect of the Take Note campaign that allows the social media team to have one-on-one conversations with young people who are struggling with career-related decisions.

In a nutshell, the social media team on the Take Note campaign is actively researching tweets and monitoring Twitter activity surrounding those who indicate they are searching for a job or dealing with college and/or career selection issues. If, for example, a Twitter user tweets something like “Why is choosing a career so difficult?” or “I hate that you’ve basically got to start choosing your career path from the age of like 17-18. I change my mind so many times,” the social media team has a response strategy to communicate directly with potential students.

Working in conjunction with NCRA president Sarah Nageotte, custom responses combining both steno and its English translation encourage students to consider court reporting as they weigh these career-related decisions (see example).

While the social media strategists certainly can’t respond to all Twitter users, the #StenoTweets campaign features more than 15 canned responses that work in a variety of conversational scenarios to point would-be students toward crTakeNote.com.  This type of direct conversation resonates with younger audiences and may capture the attention of those who aren’t aware of the opportunities in the stenographic court reporting space.

NEXT STEPS

As the holiday season came and went at the end of 2014, the Take Note campaign conserved its resources (it’s pretty difficult to get anyone’s attention amid the shopping frenzy, even for those companies and organizations with millions of dollars available for advertising). Now, with the buzz surrounding the 2015 Court Reporting & Captioning Week and students gearing up to make decisions about their post-high-school life, the Take Note campaign is ramping back up with its targeted placement strategy.

In addition to the relentless pursuit of regional media coverage, the campaign will continue to focus on social media engagement and targeted print and online ads. Publicity-worthy events, presentations, and other resources are also in the works, so stay tuned to crTakeNote.com and TheJCR.com for more information as the campaign unfolds.

Christina Lewellen is NCRA’s Senior Director of Marketing and Communications. She can be reached at clewellen@ncra.org.