How the Wall Street Journal Uses Pinterest

While Pinterest is taking many newsrooms by storm, there may still be some editors who are hesitant or unsure about how to go about using the online scrapbooking site. Why not take a page — or in this case a board — from the Wall Street Journal?

Recently, the venerable news organization started experimenting with how to use Pinterest and created a Quotes board. Its description partially reads: “Editors are pinning memorable quotes appearing in the Wall Street Journal.”

Each pin is an image of a quote from a recent WSJ story shown floating over a column of blurred out text, much like pull-quotes do in an actual story. A short description accompanies each pin, allowing the quote to stand alone. By clicking on an individual quote, readers/pinners are taken to the original story it was published in.

“There are so many memorable soundbites out there,” said Brian Aguilar, a social media editor at the news organization who helped come up with the idea for the board. “This gives you the opportunity to really highlight them and pique people’s interest in a story.”

This board can easily be replicated in newsrooms everywhere. I spoke (via email) with Aguilar to learn more about the board’s inspiration, how the images are created, and why the WSJ team isn’t worried about Pinterest and copyright issues.

The Board’s Inspiration
Aguilar says that he and Emily Steel, another WSJ social media editor, noticed that images of signs and posters performed well on Pinterest. The two started collecting quotes from WSJ articles they’d seen on Twitter and began brainstorming about how pull-quotes could be a good fit for the platform as well.

“We haven’t been shy about trying things [on Pinterest], seeing what catches on,” Aguilar said in his email. “This was an extension of that. We had a theory that quotes could do well and we just put it out there.”

The response to the board has been positive, Aguilar said. The quotes are actively being liked and repinned. He said the quotes also help kickstart conversations amongst readers, something every reporter or editor involved in reader engagement likes to see.

How The Images Are Created
Part of what makes the Quotes board successful is the attractive interface of each quote. Every image is created in a custom Photoshop file that Aguilar uses. All an editor has to do is enter in the text of the quote, resize the font, and save it.

Then the picture gets uploaded to Pinterest, some text to attribute the quote is added, and the pin is edited to include a link. Aguilar noted that a lot of thought went into how the text should be illustrated. They considered just putting the text of the quote in as an image but then thought it should have some “graphical elements.” The end result is that the quote looks like it is a pull-quote inside an actual article.

“Readers (er, pinners) see the quotes and instantly realize that this particular quote appeared in a Wall Street Journal story, that someone actually said it,” Aguilar wrote. “The styling of the image reinforces that you’re seeing something from a news story. That’s been critical.”

What About Copyright Issues?
We had the interview before the news came out that Pinterest was updating its Terms of Service but even then, Aguilar said he and his team at WSJ weren’t concerned about copyright infringement issues because “we only pin things we own the rights to.”

The art included on any of the WSJ’s boards, such as the WSJ Graphics board or the WSJ Vital Signs board, is created by designers on staff from its own content that then links back to its site, Aguilar said.

“The beauty of the process is that since we own the work, we can start to extend the use of these quotes to any platform: Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,” he wrote. “We’ve only tried it for now on Pinterest and Facebook but the potential is there.”

The Quotes board is in its early days and the team is still perfecting its process, according to Aguilar. They are working on the best way to not only showcase the quotes, but also the best way to find them.

“The only real question is, are we presenting these quotes in the best possible way?” Aguilar said. “I think we’re doing a good job, but there might still be a better approach to quotes that we haven’t tried yet.”

You can see all of the Wall Street Journal Pinterest boards here.