It has been a busy year for Amy Wolfcale, corporate comms VP at Dow Jones, but she relishes both the challenges and opportunities that come with working for such an iconic company.
From the moment she accepted the position as VP of corporate communications at Dow Jones a year ago, Amy Wolfcale knew that her first year on the job would be a busy one. But that's to be expected when The Wall Street Journal, one of Dow Jones' trademark brands, decides to add an extra day of coverage.
From a communications standpoint, the launch of the Weekend Edition required an enormous amount of planning, to say the least. The PR team followed a 52-page to-do list, some of which has yet to be completed, as there are many post-launch details to cover.
It also required some juggling, considering that a planned SMT had to be rebooked when Hurricane Katrina reduced the news that one of the country's oldest newspapers was set to publish on Saturdays to just slightly above inconsequential.
Because the communications team was so well-prepared, it was able to deal with the snags along the way. And Wolfcale says that most of that success could be attributed to a plan that had been more than a year in the making.
"[I knew] that the Weekend Edition launch was going to be a very important component of my first year," she says. "It would take up a lot of my time. It was going to be an awful lot of fun. It was going to be a very big project, as it was a national rollout. All that and more turned out to be true."
Indeed, Wolfcale's first 12 months at Dow Jones have been full of innovation and change. Not only did it launch Weekend Edition, but also this month it relaunched WSJ's international editions in Europe and Asia. "It's all about change and forward motion," she notes.
And Wolfcale seems well-suited to be part of such a period of innovation. For one thing, her interest in the Dow Jones properties appears to be one that goes beyond her tenure at the company. "It is a tremendous thrill to have day-to-day contact with journalists at Dow Jones ... people whose bylines you've seen and respected for a long time," she says with remarkable sincerity. "There's sort of a 'wow' factor that I never get over."
Steve Naru, global head of media relations for Reuters, which has a joint venture with Dow Jones in the shape of Factiva, has become well-acquainted with Wolfcale during her current tenure. The two often meet for lunch to discuss the business of media PR and to bounce ideas off of each other. He says that both Wolfcale's personality and work ethic are a good match for the requirements of her position at Dow Jones.
"She's always on duty. She's always reachable," he says. "She certainly cares an awful lot about her organization, and that certainly comes through."
Wolfcale's journey to the top communications post at Dow Jones was not a typical one, but she says that her previous experiences helped her realize that she is exactly where she is supposed to be. She began her career doing public policy work, during which time she got a lot of experience in writing and analysis, as well as an introduction to dealing with the press - something she refers to as "defining."
She soon shifted gears to international policy work, taking a position with the Canadian Foreign Affairs Ministry office in New York. "It was a true mix of policy, advocacy, and communications," she recalls.
However, she soon realized that her passion for the PR portion of the job far outweighed that for policy. "I loved the press work. I liked the events, the whole nine yards - it just really appealed to me," she says with an excitement in her voice that conveys a true passion for all of the components of PR.
Wolfcale's first true PR position was at the Consumer Policy Institute, which publishes Consumer Reports. Because the magazine doesn't accept any advertising, its business model and subsequent PR efforts are very different from other media outlets - something which had its advantages. "People in the press call you back when you're with Consumer Reports," she says with a smile.
After a few years, she moved on to the Markle Foundation, a nonprofit that works for the public good in the internet space.
Barbara Fedida Brill, director of news practices at ABC News, worked with Wolfcale on Markle's "Web, White, and Blue" campaign - the first online presidential debate.
"Her energy is boundless," she says. "She came up with a lot of creative ways to go after what we needed to accomplish. She always came through."
She adds that Wolfcale's background in public policy and economics adds a layer to how she practices PR. "You're not just getting a person who's really good at PR," she says. "You're getting a person who really understands the topics and subjects, and can dig deeper and come up with a way to get this message across that's really meaningful."
When it comes to her work at Dow Jones, getting that message across is a 24-hour operation, something she says is doable because of her global team, which comprises approximately 20 people. So while Wolfcale is getting ready to go to bed, she is handing off work to her PR director in Hong Kong. "We try to manage news on an international clock," she says. "It's so much fun working with them."
Aside from the global scope of Dow Jones' brands, another aspect that impacts PR is the company's existing reputation. All of its brands - The Wall Street Journal, Wall Street Journal Online, Barron's, and the Dow Jones newswire - are incredibly well-respected in the journalism and business communities. Such a fact would appear to make doing PR relatively easy, but it also provides a certain level of pressure.
"Being associated with these brands gives you a certain level of confidence," she says. "That's both a challenge and an opportunity from a communications standpoint because you dare not let the brand down."
VP, corporate communications, Dow Jones
Communications director, 'Money,' Time Inc.
Director of public affairs and media relations, The Markle Foundation
Communications director for Consumer Policy Institute, Consumers Union/Consumer Reports
Senior officer for political economic relations and public affairs, Canadian Foreign Affairs Ministry, Canadian Consulate