The Wall Street Journal Europe



WSJ MAIN 2“Brexit, investment banking, fintech, hedgefunds, and markets. Basically, if it’s happening between Mayfair and Canary Wharf and if it’s important, we’ll be covering it.” The WSJ’s newly-launched City App, covering news for its “busy City audience” and the increasing importance of fintech, were just three of the topics that were covered as Gorkana hosted a media briefing with The Wall Street Journal’s EMEA Editor Thorold Barker and Europe Editor Phillipa Leighton-Jones on 9 February, writes Gorkana’s Ben Spencer.

“From early in the morning through to lunch time, we oversee the website in the US. So when people get to work in the morning in New York City we’ve actually prepared what the website looks like; and making sure that’s its fresh and got the right content. So it [EMEA] is very important time zone for us,” emphasised Barker.

WSJ’s Europe edition was founded in 1983. It is now produced in print on a daily basis, with editorial staff working across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Globally, its circulation is more than 1.4 million daily and it appeals to “regular consumers” with an interest in news and current affairs, business, finance and the markets.

In an exclusive interview with Philip Smith, Gorkana’s head of news and content, both Barker and Leighton-Jones provided an insight into the new WSJ City app and offered advice to PR professionals on how to pitch stories that meet the WSJ’s “high bar”:

Concise content fuels the WSJ City App

The City App was launched in November 2015. It wants to reach an audience on the move. “Going mobile was a no-brainer,” said Leighton-Jones. The App has three sections – Markets, People and Companies – and the team wants smart content that fits with its “concise” remit. She added: “We’re really thinking about condensing down that information to its barebones. So from the time you wake up you can reach for your phone and find out what to expect from markets today. What we’re trying to do is arm you with this intelligence throughout the day”.

Journalists want to meet the “right” CEOs

“If you can bring in the CEO of an interesting firm to meet us for coffee or lunch with us, then that’s going to be very valuable,” said Barker. “A lot of this is about if you have clients who have an interesting story to tell, get them in before the story is there, so there’s a relationship to develop and conversations to have over time. That’s a much more valuable thing for us.”

He emphasised that it isn’t only about covering companies from a results perspective. Barker also wants his teams to hear from companies with interesting views. “So I suggest come in talk about what you’re seeing in the world that might be of interest to us, and we may well write about those issues. We may not write about you on a day to day basis but there’s a lot of value in what you see.”

Pitch “intelligently” to make it count

Both Barker and Leighton-Jones agreed that the key to a successful pitch is to know who you’re talking to and why. Barker said: “It’s key is to understand what you’re trying to get out of that interaction, really do your homework and understand who you’re talking to and why you’re talking to them. It is arguably counterproductive to send out mass emails to everybody and see what happens. It’s also counterproductive to call up someone specific about a story they’re not going to be interested in because you haven’t done your homework on what they actually cover.”

Leighton-Jones urged PRs to think “intelligently” about how they’re pitching content, and whether it’s suitable for the WSJ. She added: “We’ll be in touch if it’s important and interesting. Think about the level your pitching this at; we’re not a trade publication, we’re writing about only the biggest and important stories.”

Jessica Smith of RCP London attended the event, and said: “Great event in an outstanding location, providing real insight into the dynamic and evolving media landscape – speakers were engaging and shared key learnings that will help in building valuable journalist relationships. Thank you Gorkana & WSJ!”