It was only a day after reporting a slump in first-quarter earnings that Dow Jones & Co. announced Scott Schulman's promotion to the newly created post of VP-chief strategy officer.
Schulman, who has been with the company since May 1999, said he wasn't particularly fazed by the timing of the April promotion. As he sees it, the dominance of Dow Jones brands such as The Wall Street Journal, Barron's and MarketWatch makes it an ideal time for him to develop long-term growth initiatives for the company.
"It's a great place to be," Schulman said of the new post. "It's an excellent time for me and the company to focus on some big growth opportunities. Having spent several years on the operating side, it gives me a good set of experiences, a good vantage point to look at new ways to grow."
For the past two years, Schulman served as senior VP-sales and marketing for the Journal, where he was responsible for global ad sales, marketing and service operations. His successes there included instituting a new pricing structure, increasing the use of color ads and boosting advertising from b-to-c categories such as pharmaceutical and luxury goods. Before that, he was president of Dow Jones' consumer electronic publishing unit, which included The Wall Street Journal Online, vertical Web sites, content licensing and Dow Jones radio operations.
Now, as he changes his focus to a macro view of the company, Schulman doesn't gloss over the difficult b-to-b ad environment. During the first quarter, ad linage at the Journal's U.S. edition fell 8% while ad pages at Barron's dropped 12.9%.
"The b-to-b market, especially in tech and financial, continues to be challenging," Schulman said. "But the Journal market share is still dominant in all of these categories. As the market grows, we'll grow as well."
In the meantime, he clearly is interested in grabbing a larger piece of the faster-growing b-to-c advertising market with what he calls "bold internal opportunities." These include potential licensing deals at MarketWatch, the recently acquired, free online financial information Web site aimed at consumers.
Another high-profile project centers on new mobile applications for BlackBerrys and cell phones. And then there is the much-touted September launch of the Journal's Saturday edition, labeled "Weekend Edition," which is expected to be heavy with b-to-c ads.
Separately, Barron's last month unveiled its first redesign in almost 11 years, with the intent of making the weekly publication better organized for time-pressed readers. The redesign offers more opportunities for advertisers in the form of more full-page, four-color ads.
"We've got a lot of innovative things going on," Schulman said. "We're not sitting still." M