Navigating ALM Content material and Placing It to Use for Attorneys and Authorized Entrepreneurs with Vanessa Blum, Newsroom Innovation Director | Furia Rubel Communications, Inc.

Navigating ALM Content material and Placing It to Use for Attorneys and Authorized Entrepreneurs with Vanessa Blum, Newsroom Innovation Director

On this episode of On Document PR, Gina Rubel goes on report with Vanessa Blum, Newsroom Innovation Director at American Lawyer Media.

Vanessa is ALM’s first Director of Newsroom Innovation, a task that mixes imaginative and prescient, management, and editorial experience. A graduate of Northwestern College’s Medill College of Journalism, Vanessa coated courts and the authorized trade in Washington D.C. and South Florida earlier than becoming a member of ALM in San Francisco in 2012. She served as managing editor of The Recorder and led ALM’s nationwide litigation desk earlier than getting into her present position in 2018. As newsroom innovation director, Vanessa has helped to conceive and launch a number of latest choices for ALM together with the brand new Radar, a tech-enabled web site that gives personalized early consciousness of key authorized developments. Vanessa lives in California’s wine nation along with her husband, Phillip Dubé.

What’s the position of a newsroom innovation director and why did ALM set up the place?

My position as newsroom innovation director is mainly to champion and spearhead new initiatives at ALM. It’s a task that we mainly created in 2018. And as you talked about, a few of the initiatives I’ve been concerned in are Briefings, that are a collection of professional e mail newsletters, the newsroom’s LegalSpeak podcast, which launched in 2018, after which most just lately the launch of Radar.

On the time that the place was created in 2018, we had been simply a few years out from the launch of the worldwide newsroom, which is when all our reporting groups, and the completely different areas, and completely different manufacturers of ALM had been introduced collectively beneath one construction. As we carried that off, and after we got here via that change, we started to look to the long run to think about the fast tempo of change within the authorized occupation. We needed to guarantee that in our newsroom, and within the merchandise we ship, that we’re protecting tempo with our readers, and providing them information and data within the codecs, and within the supply mechanisms that they’d discover most helpful.

What tendencies are you seeing in authorized media? And the way are they impacting the best way you ship information to your viewers?

A number of the modifications are comparable between media and the authorized occupation itself. We’re each working at a tempo that’s solely completely different than we’d have been 10, and even 5 years in the past. Once I got here up as a reporter, I labored for a kind of print publications. We got here out weekly, and we mainly had every week to report an article, speak to sources, after which put out that paper. The timeline has been compressed increasingly more in order that now our reporters within the ALM newsroom are delivering a number of tales in a day’s time. We’re nonetheless, after all, investing the time in deeper enterprise work, and that occurs on a special monitor at the same time as you’re responding to the each day information calls for. The tempo of knowledge for each authorized and media professionals has modified quite a bit.

After which, after all, one of many issues that we’re watching proper now in authorized media is that this explosion of gamers within the authorized media panorama. There have all the time been opponents within the authorized information enterprise. I feel that’s as a result of there’s an enormous urge for food for information and data amongst authorized professionals. When you concentrate on how legal professionals and regulation agency leaders function, they want a whole lot of data, and perception on their very own trade, but in addition on the industries the place their shoppers function to allow them to regulate the horizon and concentrate on the tendencies which are impacting their shoppers. There’s big demand for information and data, and that’s good for anybody in my job.

In fact, journalism is a really aggressive and difficult enterprise. It’s nice to be working in a sector the place there’s a whole lot of demand. I feel as we’ve been seeing new publications come onto the scene, and established gamers launching new choices, at ALM we’re simply staying on our toes. We all know that the response isn’t simply to do extra of the identical, extra opponents, extra information choices– we’ll put out extra information. We’re making an attempt to be good and strategic about delivering information and data in the best way that’s most helpful, and useful to our viewers.

One of many issues I’ve seen extra within the final yr, or two is way more in-depth protection of varied matters, whether or not it’s coronavirus, or variety, fairness and inclusion, or girls within the occupation is an actual deep dive. Is {that a} new pattern? Is that one thing that ALM has all the time accomplished whereas doing it otherwise?

It’s one thing that we’ve all the time accomplished.  We’re intensely centered on that proper now. It’s gratifying that you could see that as a reader, and somebody who interacts with our newsroom. We’re all in favour of figuring out, firstly, the very impactful tendencies within the authorized trade, and never simply conveying details about what simply occurred, however why it occurred, what it means, and what occurs subsequent. We expect that’s one thing that our readers actually depend on us for, and we’re all the time striving to attain that subsequent degree of research and perception.

One of many issues that we’re doing otherwise within the newsroom is making an attempt to package deal that collectively in a manner that readers will acknowledge and perceive. As an example, we’ve Trendspotter, which is a brand new column. It’s written by Zack Needles, editor-in-chief of He collects all of the items that we’ve been writing on a sure matter. Identical to you stated, whether or not it’s distant work throughout COVID-19, or the ways in which regulation corporations are addressing variety challenges, and relatively than the reader having to hunt-and-peck, and navigate all our publications, which might be tough, we’re doing extra to group that collectively, and make it simply accessible to the reader.

Gina: I learn Trendspotter and Zack’s content material very often, in actual fact. And one of many issues that I discover attention-grabbing with a whole lot of regulation corporations is that “the tail appears to be wagging the canine.” It’s “Effectively, what did our opponents do?” Or “What are they doing that’s progressive?” And the truth that ALM Publications are delivering that data, in my view, is admittedly influencing the follow of regulation each day.

Vanessa: That’s nice to listen to. It’s an ideal providing. I feel it got here from a spot the place we typically really feel that it’s apparent that we’re writing all this insightful protection on essential matters, however after we speak to readers, we realized there actually is a service, and mainly gathering that up and delivering it to them. And to the purpose you simply made, Gina, a method to take a look at it’s the tail wagging the canine, however I feel one of many issues that we choose up on proper now, particularly, with the fast tempo of change amid the pandemic is regulation agency leaders actually do wish to know what their opponents are doing, and never to allow them to copy, or emulate, however there’s this starvation for data on how friends are dealing with the identical sorts of conditions that they’re confronting.

Gina: Many legal professionals are danger averse. By nature, it’s a risk-averse trade. I can’t let you know what number of instances within the 20 years of operating Furia Rubel Communications I’ve had anyone say, “Such and such agency is doing that.” Whether or not it’s the precise factor, or the fallacious factor for the consumer as a result of they’re risk-averse they usually will wait to see who does it first, and if it was profitable.

Vanessa: So true. It is probably not universally true, however I feel that the majority regulation corporations don’t wish to be the primary mover. They wish to be the quick follower. They need another person to take that first step, however then they wish to be proper behind them.

Are you able to inform us just a little bit about Radar, and the way that was conceived, what it’s, and why it issues? Radar launched final yr. It’s very new for ALM. It’s new for the authorized media scene. I’ll shortly discuss three issues that set it aside. One is that we’re utilizing know-how in solely new methods to quickly ship content material. Secondly, Radar is a customized expertise. While you create your account on Radar, you choose the industries, follow areas, areas, particular regulation corporations, and particular firms that you simply’re all in favour of. You then floor information associated to these matters in your customized newsfeed.

We’re utilizing a whole lot of know-how that we’ve by no means used earlier than in our newsroom and it’s a personalised expertise. As well as, Radar presents a contemporary and glossy UX (consumer expertise). Which may seem to be an odd factor to say, however I used to be at Legalweek listening to leaders within the authorized know-how subject, and speaking in regards to the consumerization of authorized instruments, and that mainly, as shoppers we work together with Amazon, Peloton, Netflix and others. We would like these instruments to be straightforward and intuitive. At ALM, we baked that into the event of Radar — realizing we had been constructing a instrument that legal professionals would arrange for themselves, that they’d use on the go. We needed to guarantee that it delivered a consumer expertise that’s straightforward to make use of, easy, and acquainted to anybody who makes use of different cell apps.

For anybody who’s new to Radar, it’s a customized and concise authorized newsfeed that delivers updates on federal litigation, the newest company transactions, in addition to headlines from throughout the community. The mission is to ship simply the important thing information that you simply want in that second, not an extended article, however one thing that may be shortly skimmed to attract out and establish essential data. There’s all the time a pathway to dig in if the consumer does want extra data on that matter.

As a consumer, I’m curious in case you’ve acquired any suggestions from others on how and why they’re utilizing Radar. Additionally, how may they interact with the content material in order that they’re extra profitable doing their jobs?

I’m so glad that you simply’re utilizing Radar and discovering it helpful. What we’re listening to is that Radar is helpful for enterprise growth, monitoring shoppers or regulation corporations that you simply’re all in favour of, authorized issues and trade breaking information. You may arrange a watch listing of firms. It doesn’t should be present shoppers. It may be potential shoppers, or a follow space, or an trade that you simply’re fascinated by making some inroads in. We ship information and data via Authorized Radar in a short time. The truth is, pace is a precedence for us. That’s why we’re leveraging a lot know-how on the backend, knowledge processing, and algorithmic journalism to make certain that we’re delivering these morsels of knowledge as shortly as potential. That places this actionable data within the fingers of an legal professional shortly in an effort to take the following step — whether or not that’s selecting up the cellphone and calling a consumer or a perspective consumer, or whether or not it’s passing that data alongside to a colleague — possibly there’s just a little bit extra analysis that may must be accomplished; or one of many issues that we hear actually usually, particularly, within the pandemic is that you simply want just a bit little bit of grease on the wheels even to select up the cellphone and name a consumer. With the knowledge that legal professionals are accessing on Radar, it offers you that impetus, just a little bit of knowledge to go alongside whether or not you’re emailing or instantly calling a consumer.

There’s one different use case. That first one is round enterprise growth — being first to know and act on essential data. One other manner that our readers discover Radar helpful is as a entrance door to all and ALM content material. In case you’re navigating content material on and also you’re say in mental property patent instances, you’re based mostly in Florida, and also you’re looking for this related data. Maybe a whole lot of web sites ship e mail newsletters. One of many ways in which customers can arrange Radar is to pre-select the matters that they’re all in favour of and pull all that data, together with the protection from the ALM community into their newsfeed.

Gina: I do know that lots of people within the authorized advertising and marketing area do use it as a instrument for enterprise growth intelligence, aggressive intelligence, consumer intelligence, and prospect intelligence. You’ve hit on all these issues, and that’s nice to know. It’s additionally essential that attorneys perceive how they’ll use that as you’ve stated. I’m going to repeat one thing. You stated they’re the primary to know and act on essential data. To “act” is vital to success.

Vanessa: Once we had been creating Radar we requested legal professionals how they usually get such a data, how they discover out when a consumer has been sued, or when an organization, and their goal consumer trade is dealing with litigation. It will shock regulation agency professionals who know that they’ve this suite of subtle instruments. We heard so usually that regulation corporations arrange Google Alerts, or that the person legal professionals would arrange Google Alerts with key phrases, a consumer’s title and case, or lawsuit to be alerted to one thing that had simply occurred.

The rationale that doesn’t work very properly is that you simply’re usually bombarded by data. In case you use Google Alerts, you realize that if there’s a lawsuit towards Zoom, as an example, it’s going to spur 18 completely different articles that then you definately’re sorting via. How doubtless are you to get the jurisdiction and case quantity so you’ll be able to go and look it up, or perhaps a case caption in order that you might start to research it. There’s mainly an extended journey from being alerted to that data, to with the ability to act on it. One of many issues that we attempt to do in Radar is package deal all that important data into the very first replace you see. You understand the case quantity; you’ve a direct hyperlink to the criticism. Due to this fact, you might be first to behave. We’re positioning the tip consumer to have the ability to take the following step.

Gina: I used to counsel shoppers again within the day when Google was comparatively new, and Google Alerts had been new, that it was malpractice in the event that they didn’t arrange Google Alerts to trace consumer mentions. That they had this useful gizmo, and on the time it was the one instrument, however now there are such a lot of different instruments that you simply don’t have to attend till Google has crawled a web site to ship it reminiscent of Radar. I might say the identical factor about getting the details about your shoppers, the lawsuits, the trade, and the area, it’s our moral responsibility as legal professionals to remain on high of this stuff, and never simply go away it to the biz dev and advertising and marketing groups. It’s that rather more essential.

What are some suggestions you’ve for the legal professionals on the best way to navigate Radar, and the best way to use it to the very best of their skill?

Hopefully, people will discover that it’s straightforward to make use of because it has that consumer expertise harking back to different information apps, websites like even LinkedIn or Twitter, the place you’re mainly scrolling a feed, and searching for the knowledge that issues to you. Customers ought to take the time to arrange their customized newsfeed. It doesn’t take very lengthy. When you’re in your newsfeed, you’re surfacing data associated to all of the matters that you simply’ve chosen. That is likely to be your consumer industries, the area the place you follow, a aggressive set of regulation corporations that you simply’re following. It’s just a little bit like being on Twitter if listeners had that have the place there’s numerous data associated to completely different matters that you simply is likely to be all in favour of. The brand new function that we’ve on Radar known as Focus Filters. That permits customers to take their feed, which has pulled in all of the matters that they’re all in favour of, after which slim all the way down to a extra restricted view of knowledge. To make use of that instance of an IP lawyer in patent litigation in California, you might use the filter instrument to slim down and take a look at the newest information and litigation involving simply these restricted matters that you simply wish to take a look at in a selected second.

Gina: That basically does return to why a newsroom has an innovation director as a result of we should frequently ship in a manner that the viewer, listener, and reader wants.

Vanessa: That’s true. We expect a lot in our newsroom in regards to the ways in which our viewers makes use of data, and the sorts of data they want at completely different factors for various makes use of. Simply an instance of this may be  a serious regulation agency in merger talks. You, or a regulation agency managing companion would most likely need that data instantly even when there wasn’t very a lot flesh on the bones at that second, simply the information because it was taking place, you’d wish to get that as shortly as potential. Later within the day, you’d count on to see a fuller story that shares a few of the particulars, the backstory, the context, after which possibly even two or three days later, you’d be studying in regards to the implications of what it means for opponents and getting that full image of what this trade occasion means. So, we consider it as an informational spectrum from “this simply occurred” to “what does it imply,” and “what do I must do with that data?” Throughout our newsroom, not simply on the innovation desk, we’re making an attempt to ship the precise data on the proper time in the precise format for the ways in which our readers will in the end wish to use that data.

Gina: I really like that instance that you simply used with M&A as a result of as a authorized public relations and media relations professional, we’re usually making an attempt to land that story of, “hey, these two corporations merged.” And going via this entire course of, after which what does it appear like? And why does it matter? So, I really like that instance as a result of it takes it full circle to what we do as properly on behalf of our shoppers. It’s attention-grabbing, and as we all know there’s definitely a pattern in M&A happening in 2020 and 2021, and all of us imagine it’s going to proceed.

What’s on the horizon for ALM?

First, simply speaking about Radar, we’ve an app on the best way, which we’re enthusiastic about. As I described, Radar was devised to make use of on the go, to make use of in your cell system. It has that scanning expertise, however we haven’t beforehand had an app that you might obtain within the app retailer. So, we’re excited to get that on the market. We expect it’s going to be useful to legal professionals who’re already utilizing it.

Gina: I’m joyful to check it.

Vanessa: I’ll pin you down to try this, Gina. We’re additionally engaged on, I’ll say “subsequent section,” Radar, which I can’t actually discuss solely to say that it’s nonetheless very tech savvy. We’re working with ALM’s proprietary datasets, and we’ve some cool issues on the best way. As for ALM as a complete and my colleagues within the newsroom, there’s a lot innovation taking place throughout the newsroom. We had been speaking about Zack’s Trendspotter column. There’s Barometer, which is one other car for actually digging deep on essentially the most essential tendencies throughout the authorized ecosystem .

We have now our Briefings suite which presents in-depth protection of narrower matters like regulation agency innovation, authorized schooling, and white-collar compliance. The message that I might give to listeners is in case you assume you realize ALM, and you realize The American Lawyer, and also you’ve been studying it for years, take one other look. Take a while to get reacquainted with all that we’ve as a result of there’s a lot innovation taking place each day in our newsroom. So many new merchandise, experiments, and alternative ways of conveying information and data with which I feel individuals will probably be actually delighted.

I might additionally level to Professional as one other providing that listeners ought to actually try. Professional combines our newsroom content material throughout the community with Authorized Compass, our knowledge and intelligence. It’s an unimaginable providing. It combines all what ALM does properly. In some methods it additionally simplifies issues as a result of one of many issues that we hear again from the market is that as you stated, getting a deal with on ALM generally is a little tough. We have now so many authorized publications throughout the nation, internationally now. With Professional it’s a manner of bringing all of them collectively beneath one umbrella.

Does ALM intelligence feed data into Authorized Compass, or are they two completely different entities?

They’re the identical. Authorized Compass is the user-facing product. It’s such an ideal instrument for digging in and manipulating the proprietary knowledge that we’ve at ALM. It’s run and fed by ALM intelligence.

Talking of issues like ALM intelligence, and dealing with the media, one of many questions, or one of many feedback I usually get is, “We’re a giant advertiser, so why didn’t they cowl our information story?” As I perceive ALM, there’s a wall between the 2 companies, promoting and editorial. Is that appropriate?

I’m so glad that you simply’re being an envoy on that time. ALM is a media group. Our newsroom subscribes to all the moral guidelines of any media outlet. I feel that’s one thing legal professionals can perceive as a result of legal professionals themselves work in an atmosphere that has a whole lot of moral necessities. As journalists, we maintain ourselves to a few of those self same sorts of requirements. And there actually is a divide between the money-making a part of the enterprise, the promoting gross sales a part of the enterprise, and the information that we produce in our newsroom, which must be completely impartial and unbiased. Our readers admire that.

Our management  helps that sort of divide as a result of we all know that the power of our content material, the standard of our journalism is the muse of the enterprise. It’s why individuals come to our occasions. It’s why individuals wish to promote in our publications. It additionally has quite a bit to do with the standard of journalists that we recruit to work in our newsroom. Reporters who’re well-trained, vivid and bold  wish to work in a newsroom that adheres to these kinds of journalistic ethics. We additionally view it as extremely essential for our pipeline of expertise.

Gina: Talking of which, I’ve been lucky on this podcast, and I do thanks for becoming a member of me. We’re not accomplished but, however we’ve interviewed different members of ALM together with:

Every introduced a special perspective and completely different data, which is among the the reason why it’s so essential to remain engaged in our podcast, On Document PR, as a result of there are such a lot of completely different deliverables coming from ALM, and so some ways to interact with it successfully.

I’m going to alter the tide just a little bit, and ask you when you have any ebook suggestions whether or not they’re enterprise, or private, or simply pleasure for our listeners?

I’m an enormous audiobook listener. One of many transitions of the pandemic for me is I used to have fairly a commute into our workplace in San Francisco, so it gave me all this time to hearken to nice materials — each audio books and podcasts. Now I match that in in numerous methods. I’m studying a novel proper now referred to as Inside Chinatown. It’s fascinating. It’s centered on the Asian American male expertise. It occurs to be written by a highschool classmate of mine named Charles Yu. I’m enchanted by it. It makes use of a really attention-grabbing narrative construction. I don’t wish to give an excessive amount of away, however the storytelling is exclusive. And as a author, I’m all the time excited once I see different writers who’re telling tales in new and inventive methods.

Gina: Given the state of American politics, and the necessity for extra variety, inclusion, fairness, and understanding, I’ll add it to my listing.

The New York Occasions wrote about Yu’s ebook in February’s E-book Membership Choose: A Devastating (and Darkly Hilarious) New Novel From the ‘Westworld’ Author Charles Yu

NPR interviews Yu in ‘Inside Chinatown’ Places That Man In The Background Entrance And Middle

We simply have a couple of minutes left. Do you’ve any questions for me?

I’ve a query that I like to ask individuals. That is taken from the Make Me Good podcast, I have to give credit score, nevertheless it goes like this

What’s one thing you thought you knew in regards to the authorized trade, and later came upon you had been fallacious about?

Gina: The place do I begin? Earlier than regulation college, I believed that folks in regulation centered on one space. I believed you went to regulation college to be taught one space of regulation and develop into proficient in that – akin  to  a health care provider. What I discovered is that doesn’t occur in any respect. You’re a generalist, and then you definately follow in an space. And in case you’re so fortunate to work in sure sorts of instances over and repeatedly, you develop into what we within the trade wish to name “skilled.” And there are just a few certifications, in order that’s in regards to the trade.

In media relations, once I was a trial legal professional, I believed all my tales and all my instances had been essential. And whereas they had been essential to me and my shoppers, they weren’t essentially essential to the media. The place that interprets is that I’ve actually discovered that it’s essential to grasp what the listeners, viewers, and readers want, what they’re consuming, and why it’s essential to them; in any other case, it’s not essential. All these attorneys who referred to as me over time, and stated, “I ought to be on Oprah,” put up a giant pink flag. I’d then assume, “Oh, yeah. No, I don’t assume so, not the precise consumer for us.” It’s understanding that it’s not about you, me, the previous trial legal professional, or my consumer. Public relations and media relations are about relationships, telling tales essential to others, and once you’re on the lookout for media consideration, or a narrative to be coated, it’s about why different individuals care.

Vanessa: That’s so true. I feel that’s such an ideal piece of recommendation for pitches as properly. Within the newsroom, we’ll get pitches which are simply, “I’ve this good lawyer who is aware of all the pieces about ERISA regulation, write about them,” or we’ll get pitches the place it’s actually related to one thing we’re already being attentive to. We’ve been following a difficulty. When a media skilled could make that connection between whether or not it’s a case, or a supply, and the problems which are actually driving our protection at the moment, it makes an enormous distinction.

Gina: There’s a lot to be taught in regards to the authorized trade. There are such a lot of myths. Attorneys are nice individuals. All of us want them. We use them on a regular basis. It’s a kind of areas the place we simply have a lot alternative to lift the bar, pun meant, within the occupation. And that’s one of many issues I do know that we’re doing by having you as a visitor immediately.

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