'WALL STREET JOURNAL' REORGANIZES AD SALES

Regional Approach Dropped in Favor of Category Expertise

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The Wall Street Journal has reorganized its ad sales teams across the country, eradicating its long-standing alignment of staff by geography in order to devote people to newly delineated advertiser categories. The changes come just a few weeks after the newspaper said its publisher would step down, and would refocus efforts on selling across all its properties, both Web and print.
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The Journal had traditionally aligned itself into four regions, and we organized sales and marketing efforts around those regions,” said Judy Barry, senior VP-sales and marketing. About two years ago, however, the paper tried devoting a few sales teams to the automotive, technology and travel categories. Their success at increasing market share sparked the new, broader reorganization, she said.

Transition period
The move comes as The Journal enters a transition period that is being closely watched by competitors and advertisers. On Jan. 3, parent company Dow Jones named Richard F. Zannino, exec VP-chief operating officer, to succeed Peter R. Kann as CEO on Feb. 1, and said Karen Elliott House, The Journal’s publisher, would leave the company within a few months. Mr. Zannino has signaled that he does not intend to fill her post, saying that The Journal would more closely link its electronic and print publishing operations. And chasing new consumer advertising remains a top priority.

The latest changes, announced internally earlier this week, are meant to make the sales staff more fluent in their clients’ businesses and better able to create programs that clients might buy.

“Our reorganization will increase our category expertise and allow us to get closer to our customers and have a better understanding of their objectives, which increasingly call for an integration of our online and print offerings,” Ms. Barry said.

Three executives
As a result of the latest changes, three executives will assume responsibility for broad ad categories. David Forgione, who had been Eastern regional manager, was named national advertising director for the business group. Jessica Sibley, who had been New York manager, was named national advertising director for the financial group. And Richard Skeen, who was hired in November in anticipation of yesterday’s moves, was named national advertising director for the consumer group.

Bob Valeiko, who had been Eastern regional manager for classified advertising, was named director of the national sales offices, overseeing all offices outside New York.

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