Funny videos are the most likely of all types of video to go viral. Whether it’s cats playing with dogs, an inebriated college student relating the duel between of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, or children reenacting scenes from inappropriately themed movies, funny videos traverse cyberspace faster than a hot knife goes through butter. Given their popularity, wouldn’t it make sense for lawyers to try and use funny attorney videos to attract clients? Not necessarily. The legal profession is a serious one, and for good reason: for some clients, it’s literally a matter of life and death. In order to maintain the propriety and professionalism that lawyers need to have in order to do their job, they have to stay within limits of how lawyers are expected to act; otherwise, they will not be seen as “real” lawyers by the viewers, and could actually undercut their branding through their videos. The bottom line is, it’s highly unlikely that any attorney videos, facing these restrictions, will go viral—unless it’s for the wrong reasons. That being said, humor can certainly be an effective tool for lawyers to use in their videos. Here are some tips when considering whether to use humor in your attorney videos.
1. Would it offend any of my current clients?
Different types of attorneys have different client bases, and what one group might find hilarious, another might find deeply offensive. Knowing who your prospective clients are will help you decide whether what you’re planning is likely to ruffle any feathers.
2. Get feedback
If you’re planning on doing the entire attorney video yourself, from writing the script to acting it out, to filming yourself, then you absolutely need to test it out to make sure that it’s genuinely funny before sharing it with the public. Run the concept by people whose opinions you trust, and then show them the finished product. Even if you’ve got a team of people with whom your working, getting some early feedback can help you refine your video.
3. Don’t make yourself the butt of the joke
Yes, you’re trying to display your sense of humor, and a tempting tactic is to make fun of yourself; however, your true goal is to convince viewers that you will be an effective advocate on their behalf. If those two goals come into conflict, then you’ve got a problem.
4. Make the humor work for you
For example, a recent series of advertisements from a New York personal injury law firm poke fun at the perception that trial lawyers will take any kind of case—and make it clear through humor that they are not one of them. In one video, an actor discusses with tears in his eyes how a power outage interrupted the best video game he’d ever had. After he finishes his anecdote, the firm’s new tag line appears on the bottom of the screen: “There are some cases even we can’t win.” In one deft move, the firm elevates itself above its competitors and makes itself seem both selective and trustworthy: two features every client wants in his or her law firm.