OLD Media Moves

PR and news under one Dow Jones roof

July 28, 2009

I discovered today that in addition to owning The Wall Street Journal, Marketwatch.com, Barron’s and Dow Jones Newswires, Dow Jones & Co. also has a public relations consulting business.

The business is called Dow Jones PR & Corporate Communications Solutions, and it provides analysis of media and social networks for organizations that want to know how a topic or an issue is being perceived.

This operation just signed a three-year contract with South African Tourism to help it present a better image during the 2010 World Cup, which will be played in South Africa, and afterward.

Here’s what makes me queasy about the whole situation: With the name Dow Jones on the operation, it gives the impression that it’s providing access to the top business journalists in the country. And the economic development surrounding the 2010 World Cup is obviously a story that Dow Jones journalists will cover.

Maybe I’m just overly paranoid, but I’ve never seen a news operation that had a side business in PR and marketing either. I don’t know of any U.S. magazines or newspapers that provide such work on the side for clients who could be covered by their journalists.


UPDATE: I spoke with Robert Thibault, director of global public relations for Dow Jones, this evening. Here is what he had to say about the PR and corporate communications operation at the company. After hearing him explain it, I do feel better about the relationship.

“The product that South African Tourism is using is Dow Jones Insight, which is an electronic clipping service,” said Thibault. “The service allows clients to monitor, measure and analyze their coverage in maintsream media, Web sites and social media. What we do, is we assist a client like the South African Tourism board in developing a targeted search stream, so it captures what they want it to capture. And then we put the search results in context.

“That means different things to different clients. A client that makes computers might want to see how much coverage theyre getting versus Competitor A and B. It uses visualization technology to help a client understand.

“What we don’t do is operate a PR or marketing consulting firm in any way shape or form. We don’t provide clients with any advice on strategies or how to react to the coverage. We have an unyielding firewall from the rest of the organization. When you’re a client of Dow Jones Insight, that’s it. We provide impartial information on how you’re mentioned in the media.”

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