Zach Seward, Outreach Editor, WSJ.com

Zach Seward joined The Wall Street Journal Online in December as its first Outreach Editor, where he works on social media, partnerships, and development.
PRNewser caught up with Seward this week to get his take on number of issues, and of course to ask him what exactly he does at WSJ.com.
You joined the Journal in December 2009, in the new position of “outreach editor.” Tell us a little bit about how you got the gig?
My previous job was covering media for the blog Nieman Journalism Lab, so part of that certainly involved talking to news organizations about what they were up to in the online space. So, I had talked to Alan Murray, the executive editor of WSJ.com for a while, and things sort of came together over time. The Journal at a certain point was deciding whether they wanted such a position and what it might be like, and it seemed interesting and I was looking to get to New York
What are your primary responsibilities?

A large portion of my time so far has been taken up with social media: What should The Wall Street Journal‘s strategy be, day to day implementation of some of that, tweeting from some of our accounts, posting to accounts on Facebook or other sites.
Another major element of the job is being a liaison to outside partners. Our business side deals with striking partnerships with outside companies, and I get involved in the day to day of helping that run smoothly, whether it’s a syndication partner or a social media company that we’re doing work with. I’m a liaison from the newsroom to them.
Do you think the Journal is behind or ahead of its competitors when it comes to social media strategy?
I have to say I think we’re ahead. I also might reject the premise of the question only in so much as, one, I don’t know that social media is one singular concept. There are things that the Journal or other news sites can do on our own site to make content as shareable as possible.
Two, there are ways we can use social media to tell our stories, and then three, there is the sort of the how are users choose to interact with us in the context of social media. Those are three specific things and I would evaluate us on all three separately. There some areas where I think we’re ahead of our competition, but it also opens up the question of who exactly are our competitors.
Do reporters ever “pitch” you to get their story on the @WSJ Twitter feed?
Sure. Certainly when I first came though, people didn’t know who I was. I was getting acquainted with the newsroom. Over time that’s happened more. More aggressive reporters certainly reach out.
A more common question is about what can they be doing to bring a bigger audience to the content their producing. Even more common than, “Can you post this specific article I wrote on Twitter?” is, “What should my strategy be moving forward?” Traffic to one piece is less important than people being interested in what they’re doing on an ongoing basis.
So you work with specific reporters on developing their audience or community?
Yes. Certainly one of the first steps we take together is trying to identify what the potential community or audience is. Usually that is as simple as me asking a reporter about groups and existing communities around his or her subject area. Whether that is small business reporter or a reporter covering hedge funds, it’s not going to be necessarily clear to me who the community is, but usually the reporter knows very well.