CME comms team navigates acquisition of Dow Jones indexes

CHICAGO: CME Group's purchase of a 90% stake in the Dow Jones & Co.'s indexes business created a massive communications project for the CME PR team.

CHICAGO: CME Group's purchase of a 90% stake in the Dow Jones & Co.'s indexes business created a massive communications project for the CME PR team. The transaction, in which News Corp.-owned Dow Jones will receive $607.5 million, marks the first time the stock benchmark will change owners since its start in 1896.

Reaching out internally and externally, Chicago-based CME focused on sharing information with employees while organizing interviews with the company's top executives for media channels like the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal. The news was simultaneously shared with staff and media on February 10.

“Externally, we did significant PR in terms of reaching out to media, in television, print, and bloggers,” said Laurie Bischel, director of communications at CME.  She added it was too early to talk about PR plans for when the deal closes, which is expected to be completed in Q2. “Closing is the next big step for us, and then it will be integration.”

The deal will feature a long-term licensing arrangement granting CME use of the Dow Jones name. The Wall Street Journal will continue to act as a consultant in setting the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Internally, more than 2,000 CME employees were informed of the news via e-mail, with further information on the company's Web site. CME's communications team specifically targeted employees working in customer-facing departments, preparing them for possible client calls through a teleconference hosted by an internal team.

“It's always our policy to keep our employees as informed as possible,” Bischel said. “The Dow Jones brand is obviously very strong. We focused on stressing that brand value in our communications with employees, and the strength of the company and the opportunities this deal will offer.”

Anita Liskey, corporate marketing and communications MD at CME, said the company did not work with an agency for the acquisition. She said there was constant communication between the CME team and Dow Jones' internal team during the week of the announcement.

“We coordinated with the Dow Jones communications team,” Liskey said, “to make sure we were presenting consistent messaging.”

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