Many in my audience are small business owners. Some own court reporting businesses. Some own side businesses. Everybody needs some kind of marketing.
If a core part of your business is social media marketing, then I recommend shooting Liam Weckerle an email. He’s a young man that I had the privilege of working with on a project in the past, and I can honestly recommend him for his attention to detail and willingness to go as far as it takes to get the job done. Lweck9844@gmail.com!
I took some time to ask Liam a little more about his business creating these short-form videos. I’ll share what he shared with me below!
In short, he needs a goal, a target audience, and a budget. Here’s an example of his work (for food business).
Imagining your service or product being spotlighted? Write Liam today!
It’s come to my attention that there may be texts circulating claiming to be Stenograph President Anir Dutta.
Mr. Dutta called me not too long ago (Sunday), and this was obviously not his area code. Nobody should be fooled by this dishonesty, it’s a common gift card scam.
It’s notable that these attacks are frequent on prominent organizations. The data to commit these scams is usually scraped off of organizations’ websites, and as far as I know, not usually the result of any breach.
It’s my sincere hope that more law enforcement emphasis gets put on scam detection, investigation, and prosecution. FTC data shows consumers losing over $8 billion to scams in 2022. That’s over twice the size of our entire industry. Double the money every single court reporter made in 2022.
If you or anyone receive this scam, remember not to fall for it. Respectable people like company presidents and association board members will not randomly ask for gift cards.
Stenonymous Satire Weekends is back with a vengeance tomorrow. We’ll be poking fun at AI art.
Ai-Media acquired Alternative Communication Services in May 2020. According to the recollection of one source, there was a little buzz about it at the time and there were some who were concerned about the replacement of captioning providers and some that didn’t believe such a thing would happen. Well, they’ve been touting something called LEXI 3.0.
This wasn’t the only post done on the matter.
So, I guess I really have to say to captioners what I have said to court reporters. If I get some funding behind me there’s a lot we can do. We could sponsor independent studies into the accuracy of AI versus human transcribers/captioners. What we have so far in that department is promising.
But even short of that level of funding, we could do more advertising to increase public awareness about misleading technology claims and perceptions, something that is hitting mainstream media right now. After all, as I reported on this blog, Microsoft said they had achieved tech as good as human transcribers back in 2016. Then it flopped in the Racial Disparities in Automatic Speech Recognition 2020 study. Verbit flip-flopped between its series A and series B funding, first talking about saving on manual labor and then saying that they would not take the human transcriber out. So now when Ai-Media claims its LEXI 3.0 is rivaling human transcribers, it makes me wonder if this might be just another claim that they’re using to sell, sell, sell.
The best part? They don’t even have to lie to mislead. Check out the post above. “The world’s most advanced and accurate automatic captioning solution!” This is what’s referred to in legal circles as puffery. Even if it’s BS, it’s probably not false advertising. “Watch our video to see how LEXI 3.0 uses the power of AI to deliver results rivalling human captions, at a fraction of the cost.” Well, anybody can declare something rivals something. I declare apples rival oranges and Stenonymous rivals Veritext. It doesn’t mean anything. At the end of the day, if the AI gets 40% and captioners get 90%, they still rival each other, it’s just that one would be a really poor rival. At a fraction of the cost? Does that mean all of the cost savings are passed directly to consumers? It sure isn’t a guarantee.
This is why I’m so forward about educating reporters on marketing tricks and propaganda techniques. We are all subjected to media that influences our thoughts, and those thoughts go on to influence our actions. If a person is constantly inundated with the message that technology is exponentially growing and that it’s coming for all the jobs, they won’t seek out information that challenges that belief, like all the links I posted above that most people probably skip over out. Thanks confirmation bias and busy schedules.
Meanwhile, there’s a totally alternate reality where we start dumping money into calling out these companies and working out exactly how true their claims are so that we can share it with the world.
After Stenograph’s actions in Texas and Illinois, as well as the reports of declining service from the past and its questionable partnerships with TransAtlantic and TranscribeMe, Stenograph would ultimately be doing itself a favor to start reuniting with its stenographer base. In my view, all it would take for any of these companies under the Speech-to-Text Institute to sway stenographers back to their side is admitting that the Speech-to-Text Institute got it wrong with regard to the impossibility of solving the stenographer shortage.
Stenographers, now’s the time to make your voice heard. The petition only aims for a thousand signatures, but according to Stenograph’s own numbers, as I recall from the Illinois article, the number of Stenograph customers is much higher, in the 20,000 ballpark. The more we can do to spread the word, the more pressure Stenograph will feel to accept.
There’s a big question about who would moderate, but my money’s on Joshua Edwards. He’s always been fair and professional. He’d ensure no nastiness. Even I’d behave.
I assume they won’t accept. Then again, I’ve learned to never say never. I was told people would never read the blog. Now at least a thousand visit every month. Stenographers have a real chance at being a part of positive change by trying, so go sign today!
As announced by ASSCR President Eric Allen, the New York State Unified Court System Civil Service exams for court reporters and senior court reporters are going to open their filing period later this month.
My advice? Put March 24 in your calendar and use the link above to apply on that date.
Working on an announcement for independent contractors and business owners that want to tell their story. Look out for it this weekend!
If anybody has a business, nonprofit, or media enterprise to promote in the court reporting, captioning, or stenotype services market, please consider taking the time to fill out about five questions in today’s survey.
The idea is pretty simple. I’m getting better and better at creating or brainstorming ads that drive engagement. With an actual budget for this activity, we could be promoting stenotype services to the general public and lawyers, and we could run ads 24/7 and direct consumers to the businesses that fund the advertising, perhaps via a public list or rating service. We could even perform regional marketing for businesses with a big enough budget. I can also pass my funders tips and tricks on marketing for their own social media pages, particularly as I learn more. I’ll find what works and what flops, and everybody funding the endeavor will benefit from it. If the budget gets really big, perhaps monthly ads could also be taken out in the law publications around the United States.
At this point, I’m still in the research stage of the idea, but my gut instinct to keep this sustainable but inexpensive would be each business paying about $200 a month, With just 8 businesses or sole proprietors in the group, we could run pro-stenographic social media ads year-round, which I guesstimate would generate somewhere in the ballpark of 120,000 engagements. That’s 120,000 chances per year to reach potential customers or audience members. According to at least one market research report, there are at least 3,000 businesses in our field. Just 2% of those businesses paying into it could generate 120,000 engagements a month. That’s steno coming into the feeds of over 1.4 million profiles a year.
I’m willing to change things up a bit, make the front page of Stenonymous.com a tad bit more corporate friendly, and try to attract more eyes to the businesses that sponsor the ads. I tried to raise the alarms on the corporate fraud. It’s not bringing in the funding needed to continue investigating and generating public interest. It’s time to do something different and try to bring more money into your businesses and get more eyes on your hard work. If the funders are serious about this, we could even do away with Stenonymous branding entirely, but I’d need commitments.
I have something of a theory related to our field and human interaction that might shed some light on this idea. I’ve noted that people have an innate need to be heard. How many times have we watched someone speak in court against their lawyer’s advice? Have you ever seen a child or adult with something to say and nobody who’ll listen? They become depressed, frustrated, anxious, angry. We know people need to be heard. What does the market do? It solves needs. Who better to solve the human need to be heard than the captioners, court reporters, and stenographers of the world? Now, stenographers can be very expensive, and there’s no real getting around that because every hour on our machine can mean 1 to 2 hours of transcription. But let’s say we started opening our stenotype service firms up to the public at an hourly rate? Say your page rate is $5.00 and you know you get about 60 pages an hour. You can offer $300/speaking hour stenotype services to the public without losing a dime. The general public could also book reporters on weekends and create additional income.
Economically, I would hope for a few things. 1. The constant barrage of advertisement for the public would educate more people about this field and bring more people into it, ending the shortage decisively. 2. The listing could create a kind of digital marketplace that educates consumers and helps them find the best businesses™️. 3. The barrage of marketing could bring investors onto the field looking to help businesses like yours grow and service more people (more $$$). 4. The funders might be able to network with each other to cover areas hit hardest by shortage, as long as they respect antitrust law, particularly against price fixing. 5. The increase in demand for the gold standard will draw more investors to open schools, which can then use the expected retirees over the next decade to educate the next generation. 6. We could set up a feedback system where businesses could receive or view feedback from consumers, enabling businesses to improve their business and create a more competitive marketplace. 7. The number of funders could grow to the point where we are able to offer group benefits to funders, such as legal referrals, where allowed by law. Many business owners have asked me questions about the law, which I’m happy to talk about but can’t give advice on, because I’m not a lawyer. Imagine a world where you could get that simple legal advice. 8. If the number of funders goes up, there is a very real possibility of locking the price at $200 rather than watching it soar with inflation, meaning fixed-cost advertising in a world with a lot of variables. 9. Diversifying income streams for “court reporting” (bringing in general consumers and getting out of the lawyer niche). 10. Captioners might benefit from more demand if more corporate boards and business owners know CART exists. How can consumers ask for something if they don’t know about it? 11. If wildly successful, scaling up to TV ads, podcasts, or more.
As an aside, we could also pump the market with speaking tips to help make our job easier. Joshua Edwards, creator of StenoMasters, is one of the best regional speakers around. I am quite hopeful that if I presented him with a budget, he’d help us educate the public. So much of the hassle from this job comes from speakers that don’t get what we do. We can make it easy for them.
I am in an interesting position. I’ve spent the last few years learning about this social media advertising stuff through firsthand experience. It would be a dream to use that to bring additional dollars to the market. I’m the man for the job. I’ve already shown my dedication to the futures of working reporters and our students. My site already gets thousands of visitors per month. Show the world we’re open for business, and we’ll be in business a long, long time.
So now it comes down to my audience. If you know businesses, suppliers, nonprofits, independent contractors, or schools that might help fund this initiative, please ask them to fill out the survey linked at the top. Thank you.
Wrote a poem. It’s about America instead of court reporting. This is one of the rare times I’m going to use the blog for something like this. Unfortunately, it’s the only way to ensure it gets picked up by web search services like Google.
For the longest time we’ve faced division in the country. I believe this to be intentional on the part of the ultra rich. They control our media, our social platforms, our transportation, our electricity, our groceries. While we battle each other over silly differences or disagreements, we do not address the extraction of wealth from our country. This is very similar to the hatred of digital reporting in our field. While we wasted time decrying digitals as button pushers, we hardly noticed or cared that the corporations were setting up for our replacement and to create a market glut of reporters where our incomes would fall and their profits would rise.
People on very gradient of the political spectrum are being squeezed. I know this to be wrong. I do not know how it will be righted. But I know it must be.
Something that comes up very, very often is “realtime is safe.” “There will always be a need for good realtime.” These things basically allow some realtimers to kid themselves into believing they are irreplaceable. I’m going to rip the band-aid off here. If we lose the non-realtime work, realtime will cease to be good income. It may take a while, but my basis for saying that goes back to economics / supply and demand. Needless to say, if you’re one of the many realtimers that gives a damn, the vitriol isn’t directed at you.
At present, we have a field of about 30,000 people. About 2,000 are CRRs. In the event that non-realtime work is lost, it will create a situation where about 28,000 people have an incentive to lie and say they are realtime providers. Effectively, the supply of realtime writers will go from a few thousand to tens of thousands. What happens when the supply of something increases while demand remains the same? The price falls. We’re talking about 10x or 15x today’s supply. Even if you think I suck at math and it’s a third of that, that’s still 3-5x the supply. The rates are going to fall through the floor as a matter of economic reality. The agencies will coddle you and tell you how special you are right up until they slit your throat and send someone else to do your job for less.
I accept that this will be unpopular. Confirmation bias is a powerful thing. For the last two decades you’ve all been soaked with “realtime is the future,” “everyone must go realtime,” “realtime will always be in demand,” “the cream rises to the top.” And all of that is bullshit. We’re all better than digital. The cream didn’t rise to the top there, they just started replacing us. If anyone thinks for one second companies won’t start sending “okay” realtimers who agree to work for less over “super special realtimers,” while pocketing the difference, then this might be a really rude but necessary awakening. USL allegedly stole from one of its executives, for crying out loud! You think they won’t pull off a completely legal move that makes them more money?
If you think court reporters wouldn’t lie about their realtime status, think again. It was happening back when I started in 2010. The smart ones figured out they could beat the atrocious rates by claiming to be realtime. Needless to say, I wasn’t so smart. Now imagine a world where the rug has been pulled out from under thousands of people and their families, and all they have to do to keep their jobs is say “oh yeah, I’m realtime too.”
I believe in realtime. I think it should continue to be a specialty. I think it should continue to command good income. I also know there are a lot of damn good realtimers that are fighting, educating, and care about everyone. But for those sitting on the sideline assuming things will just work out for you because you worked so hard to get where you are, rethink it. When they’re ready to turn the faucet off on you, you don’t get advanced notice.
Will they, though? Are you really sure? Do you have it in writing?
Lawyers don’t play this game. When the robots came for their “beloved” traffic court they fought back. They don’t throw those lawyers under the bus and say “the cream rises to the top, so sad for you.” And this is why this post is a little indignant. We’re the only ninnies that go around saying “yes, please take food off everyone else’s plate, but when you get to me, I know you’ll reward my loyalty with a second helping.”
I was pretty down on Stenograph for its heavy jump into digital court reporting, among other things. A reader submitted for my consideration this announcement of a partnership between LegalCraft / LEXEL and VIQ Solutions, the parent company of Net Transcripts and other digital-ish initiatives. Who’s LEXEL partnered with?
Advantage Software will also be an exhibitor at AAERT 2023.
Perhaps the main lesson stenographers can learn from this is to withdraw trust from businesses. Corporations are basically wealth extraction machines. They don’t have loyalty. They want dollars. They all see the money being poured on digital and they want in.
Unlike Stenograph, I have not heard of Advantage’s support quality declining yet, so that’s a positive. But if you were someone like me that was thinking Advantage was squarely on the side of steno, then this was probably informative for you.
For the record, VIQ Solutions was mentioned on this blog a while back. It continues to bleed money while its stock declines, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped anyone from believing that dIgItAl iS tHe fUtUre.