Hearst Magazines Creates Hearst Data University to Educate Employees

Partnership with New Jersey Institute of Technology will make staffers more data fluent

Hearst Data University will offer a range of lessons to invited employees across various divisions in the company.
Getty Images, NJIT, HEARST

As part of Hearst Magazines’ efforts to more aggressively integrate the company’s data into all aspects of its operations, the company has partnered with the New Jersey Institute of Technology on a new program to make its employees more fluent in data.

Hearst Data University (HDU), which launched in beta this month, will offer a range of lessons that vary in skill level to invited employees across various divisions in the company, from sales to editorial.

Created under Mike Smith, who took on the role of Hearst Magazines’ first chief data officer at the beginning of the year, the program is part of a push to have better-informed departments under the leadership of Troy Young, who became president of Hearst Magazines almost a year ago. Since his appointment, the newsroom has also adopted data-centric strategies, such as a Slack bot that will tell any employee what’s trending at any given time.

HDU courses, which are free for employees at Hearst Magazines (but are currently offered by invitation only), are intended to make the company better informed on how divisions can use data to reach their respective audiences more effectively.

“There probably won’t be a department that isn’t touched by it,” Smith said. “We want the entirety of our staff to be empowered with the rich data assets and to feel comfortable with the newer tools that are available to access and analyze that data.”

The program kicked off earlier this month with a beta, three-day half-session program with 20 employees from Hearst Magazines, including representatives from marketing and sales, who took a course geared toward teaching data fundamentals.

These types of courses are designed to cater to those with ranging levels of data fluency. Courses so far include instruction on data fundamentals, data privacy and data visualization, as well as identifying, creating and targeting audiences.

The program is designed to educate employees to “continuously improve how decisions are informed by data analysis,” Smith said, which could range from improving sales efficiencies to campaign execution.

Next, Hearst and NJIT will work to develop a full syllabus and time frame for the courses and discuss how the program might further expand internationally.

“This is the new normal at Hearst Magazines,” Smith said.