William Lewis, CEO of Dow Jones and publisher of The Wall Street Journal, had breakfast with the Executive Committee of Edelman yesterday morning. Afterward, I walked him to the elevator with a big smile on my face. He believes that there is a sustainable business model for mainstream media. As he said confidently halfway through the meeting, “Most of the media will be ok.” A bit later, he said, “It has never been more important to have a moral purpose in journalism. We provide valuable information to our customers; we aim to be the most accurate news provider in the world.” To all of this I say, three cheers and more, as those of us in public relations need a vibrant media business. Here are highlights of the discussion:
1. From Products to Platforms — Everything at The Wall Street Journal is being re-made for mobile devices. “We are in the constant knowledge business. We provide content as and when the customer needs it, “ Lewis said. “The digital suite of products is now refreshed. We have cut the download time for our content. We are innovating furiously; our Newsmart product is for people who don’t have English as first language.”
2. Social Media Strategy — “Many of our journalists are using social channels to cross-promote their stories. We are also creating our own social networks. For example, our Newsmart community will enable a 25 year old South Korean in technology to connect with a 25 year old Brazilian in the same industry to share experiences.”
3. Be First — Our integrated newsroom aims to be first with notifications to customers, building on our newswires heritage.
4. Advertising Matters — There are many sectors that need to reach the influencers who read the WSJ, from financial services to technology to professional services. Lewis insists on maintaining a strong price point for a full page ad or a home page takeover. Programmatic advertising is becoming substantial and the company now can position the ads across its full product breadth. “We have new products, such as a real estate service called Mansion Global that connects buyers and sellers from the US, China and Spanish speaking nations.”
5. Bespoke Content — This is a possible area for PR firm cooperation with the WSJ. Recently the advertising department developed content on the All-Blacks rugby team from New Zealand for sponsor AIG.
6. Newsroom on Fire — “There is swagger in the newsroom. This produces better journalism. We break the big stories such as the corruption at FIFA. We just won a Pulitzer.”
7. Three Legged Revenue Model — “We have strong revenue in both advertising and circulation. We also make money from information services such as Factiva. We are enabling Factiva to give you the latest information on a senior executive you are calling on for new business.”
8. Dynamic Paywall — “We are thinking about the next generation paywall, more dynamic, harder in places, softer in others.”
Lewis is very much open to PR firms and corporate PR departments coming with ideas to Dow Jones/WSJ. He wants to do more with the conferences such as WSJ Eco or the D Conference. He believes in intelligent sponsored content that enhances the reader experience. He sees the world as a continuum, with two thirds of the WSJ print readers also involved with the digital product via mobile or desktop. Therefore, those of us in the PR business have to adapt, to offer clients our classic service of intelligent relationships with WSJ journalists, but also offer short form video, GIFs, and smart events that enable Show and Tell.
This article originally appeared on Richard Edelman’s 6A.M. Blog.