NCRA gets you more than you think

NCRA offers members many different ways to invest in their futures, support the profession, and thrive in their careers. According to NCRA’s 2017 Member Needs Survey, members join NCRA for many reasons, including gaining access to national credentials, supporting the profession, and connecting with a national organization.

If you want to get the most out of your membership, consider how NCRA benefits you.

Respect from your clients, employers, and peers

Clients, employers, and peers know that people connected to a professional organization are more likely to know about and adhere to industry standards, ethical codes, and current policies — and NCRA members are the same in this regard. By being a part of the NCRA community of professionals, your clients, employers, and professional colleagues understand that you have made a commitment to your career and have a stake in maintaining the standards of the profession. Be proud of your commitment.

Showcase your NCRA membership with the NCRA member logo

Maximize your professional investment by marketing your achievements and membership. Did you know that NCRA offers a distinct NCRA member logo for use by NCRA members? You can include the NCRA member logo on your advertising, business, and other similar promotional materials as a way to denote your membership in the Association.

The NCRA member logo can only be used to designate individual membership, as only individuals can be members, and should not be used by companies or firms or in a way that implies a company is a member.

The NCRA member logo is not the same as the NCRA logo. If you are currently using the NCRA logo, please seek permission to use it, remove it from your materials, or consider whether the NCRA member logo would serve your purposes. More information about how members can use the NCRA member logo is part of NCRA’s Procedures & Policy Manual, which is available on NCRA.org. To access the most current version of the NCRA member logo, visit NCRA.org/Logos.

How to show off your NCRA credentials correctly

NCRA members who have earned an NCRA certification may use the certification or its abbreviation in their marketing materials as long as they maintain CEUs and pay annual dues. Be sure to enhance your marketing materials and website with your NCRA member and credential logos.

Discounts on office supplies, payroll services, movie tickets, and more

According to Chase Cost Management, workers in the legal professions spend an average of $1,000 per person per year on office supplies. That is a lot of folders, pens, and sticky notes. If those figures hold true for the professions of court reporting and captioning, NCRA members can easily recoup their annual NCRA membership dues just by taking advantage of the discounts available from Office Depot through the NCRA Saving Center.

NCRA Saving Center discounts at Office Depot provide members with savings up to 80 percent off office essentials. Some recent deals include expanding file folders that cost only 70 cents each. That’s a savings of $2.80 each. If you bought 100 file folders, you could recoup the cost of your NCRA membership in file-folder savings alone. Of course, other types of office supplies are available at discounted rates. To sign up for this benefit that is included in your NCRA membership, visit NCRA.savingcenter.net.

Other discounts available to NCRA members through the NCRA Saving Center include accounting and payroll services, access to a collection agency, credit card processing services, and discounts on entertainment deals, car rental fees, and access to telemedicine, health insurance, and prescription drugs.

Connected to colleagues

Through NCRA social media pages, through NCRA events, and through JCR stories about members across the country and around the world, you learn more about what is going on in the profession and how your colleagues take on problems. NCRA members take to NCRA’s official Facebook groups to pose questions and offer solutions on day-to-day challenges, offer support for bad days and congratulations for milestones, and share the latest news affecting the professions. NCRA events offer informative presentations and inspiring speakers to break you out of the everyday grind and help you take the next step for you. NCRA’s publications give you nuggets of wisdom from other professionals that can help you build your career.

On your way to certification

No matter how you learn, we’ve got you covered. NCRA, in conjunction with Realtime Coach, offers a series of both videos and articles on the ins and outs of online testing. These videos and articles aid in preparing candidates for successful online skills testing. Your NCRA certification identifies you as a person interested in self-improvement, a career-minded individual, and a member of the professional community.

Year-round education opportunities

NCRA offers several ways to earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) that offer the information you can use in your career, whether you are an official, freelancer, business owner, captioner, or legal videographer. From the inclusive and collaborative NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference for independent contractors, small agency owners, and large firm executives to the annual NCRA Convention & Expo for everyone; and from live webinars to many series of e-seminars that you can access whenever and wherever you choose, NCRA’s extensive library has you covered.

Get the most from your membership

Your NCRA membership offers so much more than you might think — from member-exclusive discounts to networking opportunities to career-enhancing certifications. Is your membership up-to-date? Check your membership and profile information, including your email address, so you don’t miss announcements and news from NCRA. Visit NCRA.org to update your profile by April 15 and be listed in the printed 2018-2019 Sourcebook. Contact membership@ncra.org with questions.

Social Media: Seven ways to look professional online

If social media is a vital part of your marketing strategy, you must remember to behave online in a professional manner. How you behave in the digital world is every bit as important as how you behave in the analog world. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

1. Pretend your client is reading everything you post. I almost said, “Pretend your mother is reading everything you post,” but my mother does read almost everything I post. Look through your last ten online interactions — Facebook updates, Tweets, etc. Are they all complaints? Are they all funny pictures? Or nothing but political links? Are they all pictures of you after Friday night’s soiree where you had a few adult beverages? What are you presenting to your client or others? Posts full of profanity and complaining? Or encouraging, helpful posts?

2. When in Rome, act as the Romans do — or the Tweeters or the Facebookers. Each social media platform has its own distinct culture and customs that have evolved as the platform grows. How you interact on Twitter will probably differ from how you act on LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Facebook. Posting funny pictures of cats is acceptable on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter, but not on LinkedIn — unless you are in the pet industry, which few of us readers are. It’s best to lurk first and get a feel for the atmosphere, especially with online forums. Which brings me to the third tip:

3. Look. Lurk. Wait before reposting. When in doubt, Google it or check Snopes.com. Don’t click on links all willynilly, even if someone you trust posted it. Don’t repost anything without doublechecking its accuracy. Facebook is not going to start charging for accounts, and more than likely, that missing child alert you’re about to send out is far out of date. The website Snopes.com is a wonderful resource for looking up whether something is true or not. For example, Pepsi is not using the cells of aborted fetuses in their beverages, no matter what your motherin- law says.

4. This is a social network, not a broadcasting network. Like offline life, if everything you say online is all about you, you’re boring and extremely annoying. Participate in the conversations. Ask people questions. Comment — nicely — on other people’s blogs. Publicly post kudos to fellow online friends.

5. Do not be anonymous, but remember: Everything you say, post, repost, reTweet, share, and comment on can and may be used against you. The Library of Congress is archiving all the tweets on Twitter. Neither respond to trolls nor be a troll. What is a troll? Someone who is “trolling” for arguments, in the fishing sense. They’re just looking to stir the pot. They want attention. Don’t give it to them, and certainly don’t be them.

6. Use “block” and “hide” and “unfriend” as much as you want. If someone is acting in an abusive manner towards you, report it to the appropriate administrators of the network platform. If someone is constantly trying to pick a fight with you (and you neither want to fight nor to subject your followers to said conversation), unfriend, unfollow, block, or hide them. If someone constantly posts stuff you don’t wish to see, unfriend, unfollow, block, or hide them. If your friends list has gotten unwieldy and full of people you don’t engage with online, feel free to prune away. It’s your account. Make it as you wish.

6a. And do not be offended if someone unfollows you. Some people like their Facebook to be filled with only their non-court-reporting friends, and some people like a mix. Some people use Twitter to network, and some use Twitter to keep up with current events and blog updates. Some people use Facebook to tout their political or philosophical viewpoints, while others use it to keep in touch with friends — or both, or neither. If someone unfollows you, don’t worry about it. 7. Cross your online friendships into offline friendships. Going to conventions and seminars is more enjoyable when you’re meeting good friends you’ve met online. If you’re going out of town, see who’s in the area who may want to meet up for lunch — in a public place, of course. Just as you act professional on the telephone, in writing, and on the job, remember to act professional when you use social media.

Social networking transforms political communication

Prior to the 2008 presidential election, then-presidential hopeful Barack Obama hired Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes to run his social media campaign. By hiring Hughes, Obama changed political communications, and many politicians started using social media as a communication tool with their constituents and potential voters. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn provided the opportunity for Americans to find instant news and information from their legislators, even before it is publicized broadly through traditional media. Social media has become an unprecedented direct avenue of communication between citizens and their elected officials.

Prior to the growth of social media, the majority of political offices would respond to their constituent’s letters, phone calls, and emails with one of the same. The incredibly high volume of correspondence with Congressional offices led to slow response times. Some offices took two or three weeks to respond to constituents. Approximately two years ago, less than half of members of Congress used Twitter.

Congressional staff would send out more traditional mail that would not reach constituents in a timely fashion. Government offices relied largely on newspapers and constituent mail to get their message out to the public. Likewise, constituents had to send letters or emails or drive to see their elected officials to get their voices heard. Since 2011, Americans have been able to use social media as a tool to communicate with government officials, an avenue that has not been offered before.

The 2011 State of the Union marked a turning point in social media’s use by politicians. Elected members of Congress could be seen “tweeting” from the House floor to the more than 100 million members of Twitter. The publicity generated by Congressmen using Twitter during the State of the Union pushed other members of Congress to set up and maintain Twitter accounts in the months that followed, and more than 85 percent of our Senators and Representatives got into social media. That number continues to rise today.

Social media also shaped the 2012 presidential race. Earlier this year, Michele Bachmann began uploading all of her campaign videos onto YouTube to share her experiences and visions she had for the country. Similarly, President Obama set up a live stream through Facebook where he was asked questions by individuals on Facebook. More than 22,000 individuals signed up for this.

The Mitt Romney and Obama campaigns began to place their daily Web ads on YouTube and other highly-trafficked Internet sites, in hopes of reaching more people with their messages specifically in the swing states of Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Virginia. Additionally, early in 2012, Governor Romney rolled out his mobile Vice President app, which promised to inform all users of the app who the VP pick would be before the announcement.

Facebook has proven to be a great communication outlet for politicians to get their messages out to a large number of people for minute cost. According to a study by the Congressional Management foundation, more than 60 percent of senior managers and social media managers in Congressional offices say Facebook is a “somewhat or very important tool” for understanding the views and opinions of constituents. In addition, 42 percent say the same for Twitter, and just 34 percent say YouTube is a “somewhat or very important” social media tool.

Social media will be an important tool in the future of political communication for court reporters. The lessons learned from Capitol Hill certainly can be transferred down to the state level when lobbying for issues important to the day-to-day lives and livelihoods like certification, third-party contracting, keeping officials in the courtroom, and any other issue related to the profession.