Advice from the Media | Robert Pollock
Name: Robert L. Pollock
Title: Former Op-ed Editor, Editorial Board Member
Media Outlet: The Wall Street Journal
1) Describe your typical workday in 140 characters or less.
I was op-ed editor of the WSJ from 2007-2012, and at the paper from 1995-2013. A typical workday began at home in the early morning and ended at the office around the time the first edition of the paper went to bed at 7PM. That includes Sundays, by the way. I was managing two pages of signed opinion with roughly six pieces per day. We got hundreds of submissions a week and commissioned many ourselves.
2) What’s the best pitch you’ve ever received?
The best pitch is not a pitch but a finished piece. Honestly an editor can’t tell much from a pitch, especially a phone pitch. If you don’t have a finished product pitch it by email rather than phone so the editor can see the written quality of your thoughts.
3) The greatest words of wisdom an editor ever gave you?
Simplify. Don’t use big words where small ones will do. Beware of bad or mixed metaphors. It’s easy to forget how many common terms are actually metaphors. If an idea can’t be summed up in one sentence it probably isn’t right for an op-ed.
4) If there was one thing you could tell every PR practitioner, what would it be?
Use email to pitch. Make sure the product has a well stated thesis in the lead graph, and make sure the product is clean. It’s surprising how many PR professionals send sloppy stuff.
5) What’s your craziest or most interesting newsroom story?
9/11. The WSJ was across the street from the WTC. Putting out the paper that day and for months afterward was an amazing display of ingenuity and teamwork from my colleagues.
6) What sets your page apart from the competition?
The WSJ is not a columnist driven op-ed outlet. The majority of our pieces come from writers outside the paper — experts in various fields or reporters on the scene. We don’t like armchair bloviating. Also, I like to believe the pieces are well chosen and even more skillfully edited!
7) Any shameless self-promotion you want to add?
I’m planning a book on the Federal Reserve for 2014. As WSJ op-editor during the financial crisis I think I’ve got some different insights from what academic economists have been bringing to the table.