Melissa Kluger: Blogging “helped me find my voice”

This week we’re wrapping up our Original Clawbies Winners Interview Series with these insights from Melissa Kluger. She is the founder, publisher and editor of Precedent magazine, which began as a blog in 2006. Although Kluger herself is no longer blogging, we know our readers will be interested in this behind-the-scenes look at the site’s evolution from a blog into the online presence for a print publication, and how the website acts as a companion to the magazine.

Melissa Kluger of Precedent magazine, lawandstyle.ca

Melissa Kluger of Precedent magazine, lawandstyle.ca

What prompted you to start your original blog, lawandstyle.ca? Were you the sole blogger?

I started blogging on lawandstyle.ca in 2006. I knew at the time that I wanted to launch a print magazine and thought that writing online at the beginning would help me find my voice, learn about the interests of my audience and develop the magazine’s overall tone. At the time, blogging was still quite new and a huge leap for me.  I’ll admit I was quite nervous about it at the beginning, but once I got rolling it was a lot of fun and a great opportunity to write. In the beginning, I was the only blogger.  But soon after I brought on a couple of other lawyers to write columns — one on wine and one on fashion. The print magazine launched in the fall of 2007. My online writers got space in print, but I hired professional journalists to write the majority of the content.

How do you decide what magazine content gets published online, or vice versa? How much overlap is there between content across formats?

Just about everything we run in print also runs online. Our website is also updated with daily news, photos from events in the legal community and other timely content. We also have some web exclusives, such as our popular Hireback Watch and Summer Job Watch  The data we collect for these stories online often ends up being included in print articles as well. So print and web really help each other out.

Do you have a sense of what Precedent’s most popular columns or topics are?

Our most popular content is the material our audience can’t get anywhere else. For example, we’ve published exclusive stories about the fall of Heenan Blaikie as well as all the data we’ve been tracking for the Hireback and Summer Job watches.  I think our audience really appreciates our effort to collect and report this type of insider news for them.

Oh and there’s one other super popular story: “The suits on Suits.” A couple of years ago we interviewed the Canadian-based tailor who designs the men’s suits for the TV show Suits and he told us why he chooses certain styles for certain characters. So, when people around the world Google “What does Harvey Spector wear,” our story comes up!

What have been the highlights (and low points) of your blogging/magazine journey?

A highlight and also a challenge for me has been keeping up with the way people (and lawyers in particular) consume news and lifestyle stories. When I started Precedent I wasn’t even on Facebook and no one had heard of Twitter. Today, we spend a lot of time sharing our stories on a variety of social media platforms and measuring the effectiveness of each of those platforms. It’s a fun challenge to keep up with the changing way people consume media and also be especially aware of the unique (and highly cautious) ways in which lawyers approach the web and social media.  The especially good news in all of this is that now I don’t do any of this alone.  I have a team that works with me and they are responsible for posting and sharing all our great content.  It’s amazing to have a web-savvy team who are not only great at sharing content but who also act as advisors on the most effective ways to do it.

If you can share, what’s in store next for Precedent?

Right now, I’m putting a lot of focus on The Precedent A-List. This is a site I launched in 2010 to help law firms share announcements and jobs in the legal community. Five years in, the site is still very innovative and more and more firms are using it to either advertise job openings or to announce good news like new hires, promotions and awards. It’s not blogging or a magazine, but a new kind of business that works well with the other products we offer.

Thanks very much, Melissa, for sharing your story with us!

That’s a wrap on our Original Clawbies Winners Interview Series – a big thanks to all those who participated. We ran this series in honour of the Clawbies’ 10th anniversary. Nominations for the 2015 awards are open now, and we look forward to hearing about our readers’ favourite blogs – get all the details on how to nominate them at Clawbies.ca.

P.S. Did you miss any of the previous installments of our series? Here they all are: David CantonMichael Geist | Vincent Gautrais | Allison Wolf | David Fraser | Neil Melliship

 

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