I recently had the unique opportunity to gather some “competitive intelligence” in the form of reviewing a competitor’s proposal. Hey, it fell into my lap; what was I supposed to do? Anyway, a small part of the proposal touted the idea of using a marketing research facility; in fact, this proposal was somewhat reliant on that detail. We like to work in research facilities too, but we do not make the availability of a facility a critical factor in the design or pricing of a project. These folks did. One reason some consultants rely on market research facilities is that the facilities have the capability to record the video and audio of the proceedings. Sounds great, right? Well, maybe. Or, maybe not because of the following reasons. First, some of the facilities put their cameras on or near the ceiling resulting in strange angles of the arguments and deliberations. Second, because we’re aware of more than one occasion where the equipment at a facility was not turned on, or failed, and no one noticed until it was too late – try explaining that to one of our clients! But, saving the worst for last, is the issue of confidentiality. At market research facilities, the staff are generally well intentioned and honest, but working in a facility introduces new levels of confidentiality concerns. While staff at all hotels/facilities where we work sign confidentiality agreements before we agree to work there, we find we have to be extra vigilant in protecting confidentiality when working with research facilities. For example, though we told staff at a recent market research facility we were doing our own video, and further, we didn’t want theirs, for a little while, they had their system on anyway. Fortunately, I did a walk around and noticed it so I stopped them early. The said they wanted to be able to see when we were on breaks. I said, “But everyone who walks in your front door can see the video!” And, then, there is the possibility of using outsiders to record the video. In addition to other issues of quality and turn around time, confidentiality is an even greater concern. In an extreme instance, I am aware of an outside video provider offering to sell a copy of the videos to opposing counsel. That videographer was a freelancer hired by the consultant for the day. We never really wanted to be in the video production business, and we are not. We’re trial consultants who take a very conservative approach to ensuring that we get the job done properly while ensuring client confidentiality to the greatest degree possible. Call us control freaks on issues like that. We’d rather be thought of that way, than to take risks which endanger our client’s work or work product.
Call me a “control freak” all you want; I prefer not to take any chances when I am conducting research for Magnus’ clients. We are not in the video recording or production business, however, part of the services we offer to our clients includes video recording our proceedings, including the presentations made by the attorneys and the mock juries’ deliberations. As with everything else at Magnus, we have come a long way since the days when we used to record everything with huge video cameras, then, upon returning to the office, pop the tapes into a duplicating machine to make VHS tapes, which were later shipped to our clients via an overnight delivery service. These days, we video record everything with a tiny digital camera, edit the videos on a large Mac computer, then place the videos on a secure portal that can be accessed by our clients only with a pass code we provide. There were some steps in between the old days and our current practices, such as copying videos to DVDs, but regardless of the means by which the videos are made, edited, and sent to our clients, the constant factor is that all of our videos are made by a Magnus employee, never by someone employed by a market research facility or an outside video company. Our clients deserve the best quality services from us. The only way I know to guarantee quality in the videos we send to our clients, in addition to the comprehensive report we prepare, is if David and I supervise the video production process. I would never, ever, trust anyone other than someone who is trained in “the Magnus way” of doing things to record our research proceedings. There is too much to lose in the event the video recordings are done improperly. In addition, and as David mentions, I cannot begin to consider the absence of confidentiality that comes with allowing anyone outside Magnus to video record, then have complete access to, our highly confidential research. Other people may have good reasons for doing things differently, but Magnus will continue to keep all aspects of our clients’ cases, including their research day videos, confidential and exclusively on a “need to know” basis among only a select few of our employees.