Widmeyer to run PR for court reporter group

WASHINGTON: The National Court Reporters Association is using Widmeyer Communications to help stave off a potentially detrimental combination of new technologies and nationwide cuts in court budgets.

WASHINGTON: The National Court Reporters Association is using Widmeyer Communications to help stave off a potentially detrimental combination of new technologies and nationwide cuts in court budgets.

The advancement of voice-to-text software has long threatened the livelihood of court stenographers. But with nearly all US states experiencing severe budget cuts, court administrators and judges are considered more likely than ever to implement the emerging technologies as a cheaper way to maintain court records.

NCRA hopes to counter any such move by emphasizing the vital role court reporters play in the US justice system.

"If you've ever listened to a focus group on tape where you've got more than one person talking at a time, it's nearly impossible to tell who's talking," said Pete Boyle, assistant VP and account lead at Widmeyer. "What [the NCRA] is saying is that that can be catastrophic in a trial."

The $10,000-a-month campaign will seek to reach its primary audience - court administrators, lawyers, and judges - through NCRA associations and publications, such as the National Law Journal.

But the audience and the issue extend beyond the courtroom.

"Among our membership, only about 30% actually work in courts," said Marshall Jorpeland, NCRA's communications director. "Others are involved in broadcast captioning and assisted real-time technologies for people who are deaf or hard of hearing."

Though the audiences are different, the issue for these professionals is the same. The current campaign will seek to paint all with a similar brush.

"The challenge is to serve all these audiences, keeping in mind that the segment of our relationship that has the most alluring hook is the smallest segment," added Jorpeland.

The contract is slated for one year, though Jorpeland said he fully expects to renew. NCRA has previously worked with Hill & Knowlton, Legal Voice, and Fleishman-Hillard.

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