There was a time when daily prices for US Treasuries were hand-written on two or three sheets of paper from a yellow legal-pad and run by messenger to the Associated Press and Dow Jones. The AP needed the prices early enough to send to their members and Dow Jones was under pressure to make the deadline for the Wall Street Journal and their newswire. The messenger couldn’t wait for the closing prices. They had deadlines. No. A clerk would scribble the list furiously and send it off – smudges and all.
Bloomberg called it the modern day pony express. It wasn’t far off. Some poor runner would bolt into the respective newsrooms, hand over a precious few sheets of paper, and watch the operator enter the prices into their system. But in 1987, Bloomberg would change that.
Bloomberg’s terminals had found a quiet niche in the aggregation and analysis of Treasury pricing data. It had so much data that it had beat the Fed. Bloomberg had better, more up to date data than the Federal Reserve. It’s prices were more reliable than the Federal Reserve. What followed was perhaps one of the finest coups of earned media in history.
Rather than rely on legal pads and couriers, why not wires? Why not a Bloomberg terminal? The AP and Dow Jones each took at terminal. They got better data. They got closing prices. And each day, they ran a full page of Treasury prices, courtesy of the terminal and credited to Bloomberg.
Lesson learned: if you want media, earn it.