FEATURE: VIEW FROM THE TOP Peter Kann - The headline maker. Maja Pawinska discovers how Peter Kann is taking his Dow Jones media empire forward

Peter Kann has just got into London on the red-eye from JFK, but a cup of coffee in the Savoy appears to be all he needs to be firing on all cylinders. He's got good reason to be enthusiastic - the Dow Jones Group, of which he is chairman, is on a roll.

Peter Kann has just got into London on the red-eye from JFK, but a cup of coffee in the Savoy appears to be all he needs to be firing on all cylinders. He's got good reason to be enthusiastic - the Dow Jones Group, of which he is chairman, is on a roll.

Already this year there's been the incredibly successful relaunch of the Wall Street Journal Europe (see panel), impressive financial results in the first three quarters, and expansion of the brands in the Dow Jones stable has continued apace.

The empire, which started in 1896 with the founding of the Dow Jones Industrial Average index to monitor stock market performance, is bigger than you might think, employing 8,300 worldwide.

It includes the Wall Street Journal and its European and Asian editions, and the Dow Jones Newswires, which are distributed by all the major financial information services, including Reuters and Bloomberg.

The group publishes a number of specialist titles including business and financial weekly Barron's and SmartMoney, and on-line ventures such as in-depth business news bulletin Factiva, and the Wall Street Journal on-line, wsj.com. Dow Jones is also co-owner, with NBC, of the CNBC business television channel, and runs business conferences.

It's a broad business, but Kann points out that whatever new projects come along, the central proposition of the group is never watered down.

'Everything we do is focused on business - we provide relevant and useful business content for a business audience in a lot of different ways.'

Kann's own history underlines his knowledge of, and commitment to, quality news coverage. A Harvard graduate, his association with Dow Jones began in 1963, when he was an intern on the WSJ, and he joined the paper as a staff reporter the following year. In 1967 he was the paper's first resident reporter in Vietnam, where he covered the war, and in 1972 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the 1971 India/Pakistan War.

Kann became the first publisher of the Asian Wall Street Journal in 1976, and when he returned to the US in 1979 he was made associate publisher of the WSJ and a vice-president of Dow Jones. By July 1991 he was chairman of Dow Jones.

He may have a distinguished career in print journalism, but Kann is also one step ahead of many on-line publishers. When wsj.com was set up in 1996 it made the controversial decision to charge for its service, and last week announced that it had reached 500,000 paying subscribers.

'Wherever we provide business information we will charge for it. If we have something of significant value and we are prepared to charge for it in print form, then it's illogical not to charge on-line,' says Kann.

Despite being launched four years ago, wsj.com only launched its first dedicated European advertising campaign this week, across print, television, internet and direct mail. Kann says this is because the group does not want to over-promise and under deliver - the product has to be right before Dow Jones will actively market it.

The site is published by a full-time staff of 250, and provides the full text of the WSJ, updated constantly throughout the day with material from the Dow Jones newswires, integrated with the full European and Asian Journals.

Kann puts the success of wsj.com - and of all Dow Jones' media businesses - down to it being trusted by readers and viewers. 'We're talking about business or financial news that can affect decision-making, and providing content that is relevant to their needs in a way that engenders a high level of trust. That trust is down to having talented people who work hard and check their facts, and take their roles very seriously.'

He adds that the quality of his journalists goes beyond affecting the content being trusted, to the reputation of the whole group.

'We have a tradition of exceptional journalism that we keep trying to build on. We can't rest on our reputation - we have to actually do it every hour of every day. Not that we never make a mistake, but part of being trusted is making admission of errors.'

The relationship between Dow Jones journalists and the PR fraternity also has to be based on trust. 'PR and corporate communications people have a great deal of respect for our reporters because they know what's going on, and that matters a lot.

But Kann adds this works both ways, and says there is sometimes 'a big difference' between internal and agency PR people as far as their value to his reporters is concerned.

'External PRs often don't know what's really going on in a company - they tend to be the promoters, as opposed to key members of the management who do know what's going on.'

Kann has some heavyweight brand reputations to protect - he reckons the WSJ ranks up with Coca-Cola as far as awareness in the US is concerned.

'Everyone thinks they know what it is and what it means. We are taking the WSJ from being a publication to being a global multi-media franchise. It's a strong and clear brand and we can keep extending it.'

Dow Jones promotes its brands through separate corporate communications departments covering the US, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Communications in the EMEA region are run from London, with a team of five headed up by corporate communications director Brigitte Trafford.

Each of the products does its own marketing, although there are some umbrella campaigns, for instance marketing the WSJ and the dot.com together, in the US and Europe.

Dow Jones is always on the look out for new markets, but recognises that partnerships are often the best way of serving them.

Last year the WSJ got together with the Financial Times and Independent Media to launch a Russian business daily, Vedomosti. The publication has a dedicated Russian staff of 20, and also draws content from the WSJ and the FT.

The latter might be seen as strong competition for the WSJ. But Kann points out that the FT is very much a UK-focused paper, and this was one of the reasons the decision was taken to run the Wall Street Journal Europe from Brussels.

'We figured Brussels is a neutral place to edit a Europe-wide paper. In London the content inevitably gets a little too skewed towards what is happening here. Some of it matters everywhere, but not all of it,' says Kann.'

The WSJE is now recognised as an influential pan-European business daily, and its journalists are sought out for comment by other media.

BBC World Service has even set up a weekly slot for Fred Kempe, the WSJE editor, and Felipe Gonzales, former Socialist prime minister of Spain, has been quoted as saying 'the Journal Europe is the only publication with a true European direction'.

Another factor that sets the group apart from other publishers is the extent to which its editors use each other as a resource, with the newswires feeding off the print publications and vice versa, and reporters from both services available for CNBC.

'We are trying to have a seamless flow of news around the world,' says Kann. 'Each publication has its own editorial staff who make decisions about news they want to use, and generate news which is important to their audiences and markets.

'But if the editors want to use news generated by another service, they don't have to ask permission. They all strengthen each other.'

What is without doubt is that Kann's geographical and on-line ambitions are going to make Dow Jones' portfolio a key target for European PRs.


On 7 February this year, the Wall Street Journal Europe was relaunched after a redesign, as part of a dollars 60 million investment by Dow Jones.

The WSJE's new features included Networking - a section dedicated to the new economy - and a more reader-friendly layout with 11 additional pages, colour and photographs.

There are now 90 staff at the WSJE - it has more reporting staff in continental Europe than any other pan-European business publication.

The business objectives of the relaunch were based on extensive research by the marketing department on target audiences and market potential.

They included boosting circulation and ad sales; getting business leaders and advertisers to take a fresh look at the WSJE; and establishing it as a truly pan-European daily business publication.

The strategy was to reach the target business and advertising communities by positioning the relaunch as a strong business story rather than a superficial redesign. The team was aiming for a small number of positive, in-depth pieces in the most influential business and media pages/programmes in the target markets.

Nine business titles were targeted across the UK, France and Germany, as well as key broadcast programmes. Dow Jones Group chairman Peter Kann and other senior executives agreed to interviews in eight cities across Europe.

Key messages and angles for the business story were developed. They were details of the new section, Networking; the investment in the newspaper; increase in staff; the wider issues of Europe's evolving business environment and its effect on pan-European business publications, and the growing prominence of on-line journalism.

Given the strength of the Financial Times in the UK, the story was positioned as a 'battle' between the two newspapers, creating a strong hook for the UK media and positioning the WSJE as a serious rival for readers.

Interviews were secured before the launch with key business/media editors from the Sunday Times, the Guardian, and Sunday Business. On the day of the launch, key business broadcast programmes, Today (Radio 4), Wake up to Money (Radio 5), World Business Report (BBC World Service), and CNN ran interviews with Kann, and CNBC interviewed the newspaper's editor, Fred Kempe.

Kann and two other senior executives also held embargoed interviews with the key daily European publications in Zurich, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Hamburg and Amsterdam.

Two leaks occurred before the launch during the October 1999 sell-in to advertisers and retailers, but these were turned round and used to 'announce' the date of the launch.

The campaign was evaluated through analysis, carried out by Echo Research, of media coverage, qualitative feedback, circulation and advertising data.

The coverage generated was well above expectations. Instead of the nine in-depth pieces hoped for, more than 79, predominantly positive, significant pieces of coverage were generated over the two months to 24 March.

Of the total 16.2 million impressions secured, 8.9 million were through business pieces and 4.7 million through the marketing and media pages.

Networking was mentioned strongly, just behind the introduction of colour.

The battle with the FT was the most popular angle with UK media.

Since its expansion and redesign on 7 February of this year, the WSJE has both increased, and sustained, outstanding growth throughout its key markets in both circulation and sales.

Since the introduction of the expanded newspaper, circulation has averaged well over 91,000.

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