Amid the chatter about a housing bubble, it's instructive that absolutely no one posits a newspaper bubble. So at The Wall Street Journal, the top business paper and second-largest paper of any kind by paid circulation, it's hard not to admire the momentum Judy Barry is producing.
|Judy Barry, senior VP-advertising sales and marketing, The Wall Street Journal
Her successes—like the first-quarter gains of almost 18% in ad revenue and 15% in linage—don't mean B-to-B or newsprint has suddenly gotten hot. Far from it.
"We're not seeing many signs of secular resurgence in business-to-business advertising or in the newspaper business," Ms. Barry says. "We are attributing our growth more to internal changes than to a broad market recovery."
Since Ms. Barry was named senior VP-advertising sales and marketing a little more than a year ago, she has among other things reorganized the ad sales staff along advertising categories instead of geography, freed the reps from interminable meetings and crushing paperwork, and pared the vast array of sales initiatives on the table so her team can focus on a few.
"The Wall Street Journal has maintained a reputation of arrogance to a certain degree, which we're not satisfied with any longer," Ms. Barry says. "We declared Wednesdays 'meetings-free days' last summer, and that's taken hold. We expect everyone to be out with the customers, and management will not be in the way."
L. Gordon Crovitz, exec VP at Dow Jones & Co. and publisher of the Wall Street Journal franchise, gives Ms. Barry credit for much of the paper's category-leading first-quarter revenue gains. "She has put together a strong team that she organized into category segments so that we can serve all advertisers better," he says.
Inside the paper, the results have been called "the Barry dividend." While she's hesitant to embrace the term, emphasizing the quality of the team around her, turning things around has been a Barry way for years.
Ms. Barry, 44, set out to work in newspapers—working over the years at The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post. She joined the Journal in 2004 as VP-marketing. "The quality journalism attracts this kind of person whom marketers want to tap into. I could see that this formula was something that would be successful over time," she says.
Outside the office, Ms. Barry says, she loves movies and travel, noting that when a planned trip soon takes her to Tokyo, she will stay in the hotel that's featured in one of her favorite films, "Lost in Translation."