Radio shows and race cars aren’t typically what come to mind when one thinks about law firm marketing.
But Northern California “super lawyer” Frederick Penney has made use of both when it comes to getting his personal injury law firm, Penney & Associates, in front of people who need his services.
It’s this creative approach to marketing that has helped Penney & Associates become arguably one of the top personal injury law firms in the country.
A self-described “small town boy,” Penney grew up on a farm located in a sparsely-populated area of Northern California, in a town of fewer than 1,000 people. His father always expected him to work hard in the fields, and this work ethic has stuck with him ever since.
Penney established his own practice, initially called The Law Offices of Frederick W. Penney, in the greater Sacramento area in 1993. He’s also one of three co-hosts of Radio Law Talk, a syndicated weekly radio show that’s designed to both educate and entertain listeners.
I sat down virtually with Penney to learn more about his unique approach.
Shama Hyder: How did your upbringing influence the way you pursued your law career?
Frederick Penney: I came from a humble background as a country boy in small-town America, and I fought my way up to being the founder and managing partner of Penney and Associates Injury lawyers. One thing I always understood very well is that you need to be wholly committed to helping those who come to you, fighting for them every step of the way.
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I became successful by following this strong work ethic.
Hyder: What led you to start your radio show? And, what kind of marketing results have you seen for your practice since you began it?
Penney: The radio show was the brainchild of myself and Cal Hunter, a former news anchor and three-time Emmy award nominee producer
We knew that there were no real radio shows that talk about the law, yet do it in an entertaining, fun manner.
We built a new studio in Northern California and brought in a top criminal lawyer who’s also an actor, and has a criminal law practice. We also brought in a second co-host who handles family law matters.
My name recognition and law practice business have increased due to the show, as it’s now syndicated nationwide through more than 65 stations, and in hundreds of cities. We broadcast live every Saturday from 9am-12pm Pacific time, and then the show is available as a podcast.
I try to make the show enjoyable and entertaining, yet a place you can learn about the latest lawsuits and how they affect an individual’s everyday life. I believe it’s important to share my legal knowledge with people across the nation, but more important to entertain them at the same time—listening to a dry, drab legal show is not what people want.
Hyder: What are some other unusual marketing tactics you’ve utilized?
Penney: About 20 years ago I invested in a racing company that included “Penney Racing Supply,” “Comptech Racing Engines,” and “The Pacific Challenge Series.” All these companies revolved around racing and race cars and racing engines.
Many thought I was crazy to invest in a company like this, but I knew that this was also a way to market Penney and Associates Injury Lawyers, since it would place my name on cars and at the track for many to see.
For example, the Pacific Challenge Series was a late model racing series that required all racecars to have Penney and Associates stickers on their cars. This pushed the Penney and Associates name out in the racing community. All these companies were sold at the beginning of 2019, as Penney and Associates is taking a different direction in advertising, including on social media.
We are powerful and successful personal injury trial lawyers, but we realize one still needs to watch what’s changing in marketing, and adjust the proverbial sails to catch the wind of the latest marketing trends.
Hyder: What advice do you have for those who are in traditional fields, like law, and may be afraid to try marketing outside the lines?
Penney: I always say, sometimes it is best to stay in the box, where it’s safe and comfortable. But you’ll never know what is out there or the possibilities if you stay within that box. Look at all the successful business people in life: it is very rare that they stayed inside their boxes.
Remember herrings converge in schools in Norway for spawning season, believing they are safe staying all together—until the orcas show up.
Even though there are thousands of businesses—including, of course, your competitors— marketing themselves in all kinds of different ways, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a strategy that’s truly unique. By using unexpected tactics and thinking outside the box, like Penney, you can get your brand in front of a whole new audience who just may have a marked need for what you can offer.