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Securing Coverage in The Wall Street Journal

By April 6, 2021 B2B PR Insights
Securing Coverage in The Wall Street Journal

With more than two million subscribers and 12 million monthly website visitors, the 131-year-old The Wall Street Journal consistently ranks as one of the top media outlets in the world. As the pre-eminent American business newspaper (not to mention its significant, complementary digital presence), companies in every industry covet Journal coverage.

While brands like Apple, Google, Oracle and Tesla are frequent recipients of attention from editors, name recognition isn’t a prerequisite for getting mentioned in The Wall Street Journal — something BLASTmedia has consistently demonstrated for our clients.

As a B2B SaaS PR agency, we have our fair share of clients with eyes set on Journal coverage, among other national publications. This is true for those actively fundraising or gearing up for a public offering (for obvious reasons), as well as those who wish to raise their profile within highly competitive spaces and leverage Journal coverage for greater attention and leads.

If your company aims to get mentioned in The Wall Street Journal, here are things to keep in mind.

It’s a Courtship, Not a Full-Court Press

Patience will be your best companion on the road to the Journal. It’ll take some time to build a relationship with an editor who covers your industry. Is it possible to get a Journal editor’s attention on your first try? Sure. Anything’s possible. People do win the lottery, after all. But is it likely? Not at all.

Journal staff are at the top of their game, and they have the luxury of being particularly choosy about their sources. If you want to be one of those sources, you had better demonstrate knowledge of who covers what and why. Don’t expect to get a response most of the time. This is the long game. Your job is to be helpful to them, not the other way around.

Know of a great industry story no one is covering? Pass it along. It doesn’t matter if it’s not about your company. A source that can only offer one kind of story isn’t much of a source at all, and the Journal isn’t interested in covering a story just because someone else is covering it.

Keep at it, and once you’ve caught an editor’s interest, prepare for several conversations. It’s not uncommon for a Journal editor (incidentally, this is the case with other top publications like The New York Times, too) to spend a phone call or two simply getting to know the company and whomever you’re positioning as a spokesperson. These calls will almost certainly be on the record but are more akin to background research for the actual interview. Essentially, the editor needs to suss out whether or not there’s a Journal-worthy perspective.

This was certainly the case with BLASTmedia client Credly, which spoke with editor Douglas Belkin three times before being included in the Journal’s coverage of higher education during the pandemic, a placement that continues to draw attention to Credly months after publication.

How would you want to be treated?

While you’re doing your due diligence and demonstrating an aptitude for Journal editors’ beats and interests, make sure you don’t shoot yourself in the foot by treating them like, well, just typical journalists. They’re not. Top of their game, remember?

Resist the temptation to BCC or mail-merge them along with however-many other contacts. This will completely defeat the purpose of the time you’ve invested in crafting the right approach to the right editor. Take the time to contact them individually. The potential payoff is worth the extra effort.

And, please, don’t be cute. Unless you have a relationship with the editor, steer clear of the personal commentary. They may have tweeted about how much they liked the WandaVision finale; it doesn’t mean they want to read about it in an email from you.

Don’t take my word for it. As the Journal’s Ann-Marie Alcantara said last year: “Doing all the tricks people do on your inbox, like putting something personal on this. Please don’t. It’s not a good time. And we all have limited time. Don’t mess with my time that way. It’s usually always a pitch that’s unrelated to my beat, and they’re just trying to catch my attention, and I don’t appreciate it because it’s like, you didn’t even pitch me something relevant to what I’m reporting on, and now you made me hate whatever I supposedly liked in the subject.”

Ouch.

Bring Your Data — and Your Friends

If you’re not sure if you have a story to bring to the Journal’s attention, consider what kind of data you can talk about and which customer relationships you can leverage. The Wall Street Journal loves a good data story, but your internal metrics won’t cut it. (The Journal isn’t the right target for a momentum release.) You’ll need data from analysts or academics, or from a study you’ve commissioned from a well-known research firm.

If you do have compelling data that’s paired with a noteworthy stance — let’s say, something that runs counter to a prevailing industry narrative or a shot across the bow of a big, entrenched player in your space — you might be onto something. Presumably, your company has something to say about what sets it apart. Get credible data to back up your position, and use it to your advantage.

Another way BLASTmedia has had success with the Journal is by bringing in a client’s high-profile customers to help tell the story. While our client Moogsoft may not be a household name across the consumer space, their customers American Airlines and Fannie Mae sure are. By leveraging that name recognition, we earned two prominent pieces of Journal coverage for Moogsoft and its intelligent observability platform. 

With rare exception, the Wall Street Journal won’t cover your company for routine news, product announcements and modest growth. Being able to offer surprising data, tangible (not potential) results or support from high-profile customers will go a long way toward securing an editor’s interest.

If you’re in B2B SaaS and the Journal is a media target for your company, the process might feel a bit daunting. Remember, it’s going to take time and effort. If you’re on your own or your current agency isn’t pushing you to unearth better data, sharper points of view and stories from your best-known customers, BLASTmedia can help. Contact Lindsey Groepper to learn more about how we approach media relations with publications like The Wall Street Journal and hundreds of others.

About Sam Perry

As a senior PR manager, Sam works to secure meaningful, needle-moving coverage for his clients. He’s a local and national news junkie who enjoys dreaming up ways to connect his clients’ thought leaders to emerging topics and trends. When he’s not working up new pitches, you can find Sam spending time with his wife and four kids or putting his incredibly average guitar skills on display with friends on Zoom.

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