Texas Board of Legal Specialization
ABOUT Texas Board of Legal Specialization
Established by the Supreme Court of Texas in 1974, the Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS) certifies attorneys in 20 specialty areas of legal expertise. Completing a rigorous certification process and renewing every five years, Board Certified attorneys have proven the depth of their expertise and experience in specialized fields of legal services. For more information, please visit www.tbls.org
For decades, TBLS has certified attorneys in order to provide consumers a means of identifying qualified attorneys to serve their legal needs. However, the legal profession is changing. The Internet has provided new means for attorneys to position themselves as experts and connect directly with consumers, decreasing the perceived value of certification. In addition, attorneys are no longer required by law to advertise whether they are or are not certified by TBLS, making it more difficult to brand Board Certification in a diverse marketplace. As a result, TBLS engaged Pierpont's Austin office to help increase the value and benefits associated with Board Certification among consumers and attorneys.
At the beginning of the relationship, Pierpont facilitated a brainstorming session with TBLS. During this meeting, the two organizations outlined three key objectives for enhancing the member value of TBLS certification:
1) Encourage non-certified attorneys to seek Board Certification;
2) Inspire consumers to seek out Board Certified attorneys for specialized legal services;
3) Encourage referrals of individuals with specialized legal needs to Board Certified attorneys from other community influencers.
After interviewing TBLS leadership and staff, researching other certification programs and speaking to many certified and non-certified attorneys, Pierpont determined the best way to achieve the organization’s objectives was through a comprehensive media relations
and marketing program. This program involved numerous components, including a media relations campaign, website redesign, member marketing toolkit, social media strategy, online and print advertising, a revamp of the existing accreditation certificate and a branded backdrop for photography.
The cornerstone of the strategy was to create a visual identity associated with “Board Certified.” The Board Certified logo was produced and became the visual groundwork for other communications tactics such as the website, accreditation certificate, online advertising and member marketing toolkit. Designed to be appealing, easily recognizable and to communicate the significance of Board Certification, this logo established the look and feel of the TBLS campaign.
The TBLS website was redesigned to appeal to both members and consumers. Using a robust search function and social media-themed graphics, the new site beckons visitors to “Find a Board Certified Attorney” with an immediate search field in the central position on the homepage. A rotating gallery of thumbnail portraits of Board Certified attorneys — each linking to a personal page — greets patrons and adds value to the certification for members. This puts a face on the organization and creates a memorable image of the diversity of Board Certified membership.
For the media relations component of the communications plan, Pierpont worked with reporters to place stories with TBLS spokespersons in various publications throughout Texas. The resulting stories were beneficial to both the Board Certified attorneys who participated and the TBLS Board Certification program. Pierpont came up with a second public relations strategy to supplement media relations efforts: creating a blog for TBLS that would allow Pierpont to control the messaging and generate optimal awareness for the value of Board Certification. Pierpont worked with the Austin American-Statesman
web editor to create a reader’s blog for local consumers called “Know Your Rights.”
The content focused on Board Certified attorneys answering reader-submitted legal questions. Pierpont then worked with the web editor to have the blog appear in the "Editor’s Choice" column on statesman.com
and created a shortened, memorable URL for the blog that could be used in other marketing initiatives.
Attorney and consumer reaction havebeen tremendously positive thus far. In the website's first year, TBLS.org
has had more than 50,000 unique visitors. The feedback on the Board Certified logo has also been positive. Board Certification programs in other states have contacted TBLS to inquire about using the logo for their own programs. Finally, the TBLS blog, “Know Your Rights,”
has seen extraordinary success. To date, “Know Your Rights” is one of the top recommended reader’s blogs by consumers at statesman.com
. On March 5th, 2010, Pierpont received a Best of Texas award from the Texas Public Relations Association
for the blog. Pierpont also wont two IABC Awards for their work.