Radio broadcasts and racing cars are usually not what you think of when you think of marketing for law firms.
But Northern California “super attorney” Frederick Penney has used both to bring his personal injury law firm, Penney & Associates, to people in need of his services.
This creative marketing approach has made Penney & Associates one of the leading personal injury law firms in the country.
Penney, a self-described “small town boy,” grew up on a farm 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 that work ethic has remained with him ever since.
Penney started his own practice in the Greater Sacramento area in 1993, originally called The Law Offices by Frederick W. Penney. He is also one of three co-hosts of Radio Law Talk, a weekly syndicated radio show intended for both educational and entertainment listeners.
I sat down with Penney virtually to learn more about his unique approach.
Shama Hyder: How did your upbringing affect the way you pursued your legal career?
Frederick Penney: Coming from a humble compatriot in a small town in America, I fought my way up to become the founder and managing partner of the Penney and Associates Injury Lawyers. One thing that I have always understood very well is that you must put all your efforts into helping those who come to you and fighting for them at every step.
I became successful by following this strong work ethic.
Hyder: What made you start your radio show? And what kind of marketing results have you seen for your practice since you started?
Penney: The radio show was an brainchild of me and Cal Hunter, a former news anchor and three-time Emmy nominee
We knew there weren’t any real radio shows that talked about the law, but we did it in a fun, entertaining way.
We built a new studio in Northern California and brought in a top criminal lawyer who is also an actor and has a criminal justice practice. We also brought in a second co-host to handle family law matters.
My notoriety and my business with law firms has increased due to the show, as it is now syndicated across 65+ stations nationwide and in hundreds of cities. We broadcast live every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Pacific time, and then the show is available as a podcast.
I try to make the show fun and enjoyable, but you can catch up on the latest lawsuits and how it affects an individual’s everyday life. I think it’s important to share my legal knowledge with people across the country, but more importantly to entertain them at the same time – listening to a dry, drab legal show is not what people want.
Hyder: What other unusual marketing tactics did you use?
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 of these companies revolved around racing cars and racing engines.
Many thought I was crazy to invest in a company like this, but I knew this was also a way to market Penney and Associates Injury Lawyers as it would put my name on cars and on the track for many.
For example, the Pacific Challenge Series was a late model racing series that required all racing cars to have Penney and Associates stickers on their cars. This displaced the name Penney and Associates in the racing community. All of these companies were sold in early 2019 as Penney and Associates took a different direction in advertising, including on social media.
We are powerful and successful personal injury attorneys, but we know that there is still a need to watch what changes in marketing and adjust the proverbial sails to catch the wind of the latest marketing trends.
Hyder: What advice do you have for those in traditional fields like law who may be afraid to try marketing out of bounds?
Penney: I always say, sometimes it’s best to stay in the box where it’s safe and convenient. But you will never know what’s out there or what your options are if you stay in that box. Look at all the successful business people in life: it is very rare for them to stay in their boxes.
Remember, herring come together in Norwegian schools during the spawning season and believe that they can safely stay together – until the orcas emerge.
Even if there are thousands of companies – including your competitors, of course – marketing each other in a variety of ways, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a truly unique strategy. Using unexpected tactics and thinking outside the box like Penney can bring your brand to a whole new audience that may have a distinct need for what you can offer.