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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.

A Day At King’s Dominion

Every quarter, we take a company retreat. Most recently, we hit the roller coasters at King's Dominion in Virginia. It was a great trip. Here are some photos from the day.

Advice from the Media | Dale Buss

Name: Dale Buss Title: Independent Journalist Media Outlet: Forbes, Chief Executive, Brandchannel.com, Wall Street Journal, Townhall Magazine and many more Twitter Handle: @DaleDBuss 1. Describe your typical workday in 140 characters or less. Pore through news. Handle increasing 24/7 blogging responsibilities. Then turn to find time for longer-term projects e.g. mag stories, books. 2. What's the best pitch you've ever received? I can't single out one of the best, but I can talk about a cavalcade of awful ones, which had one or more of these characteristics: 1) Totally clueless about what I do, specifically and/or about how freelancers or even journalists work; 2) Presumption that journalists want to or are able to work on precisely what the pitch-er happens to be proposing that day; 3) Responding to a query by offering an executive for an interview only to come back later and say he/she's not available. In short, the most effective PR folks forge a relationship with me which ends up paying off both ways. 3. The greatest words of wisdom an editor ever gave you? "More, better, faster, Buss!" -- Doug Sease, WSJ bureau chief in Detroit, 1981-1983; and another: "Boomer [his nickname for me], I want you to go out and capture the mood of the people!" -- Paul "Biff" Dysart, editor, Reedsburg (Wis.) Times Press and renowned community-newspaper editor in Iowa (R.I.P.) 4. If there was one thing you could tell every PR practitioner, what would it be? In addition to (2) above, I would urge them to learn that (most, traditional) journalists and bloggers don't wake up every day wondering how we can best promote an agency's agenda or client. Instead, we're totally focused on how to make ourselves and our clients look smart. That's how it has to be, of course. And if they can find ways to understand and, yes, exploit that truth, we're going to have a mutually beneficial relationship. 5. What's your craziest or most interesting newsroom story? I'll never forget sitting in the newsroom of the Milwaukee Journal (now the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) in 1990, at a meeting where top editors were considering our "people of the decade" section, and hearing one of my colleagues assert, in all seriousness, that Ronald Reagan didn't deserve to be on the list. Of the many, many instances I've encountered of newsroom bias and agenda-setting before and since, this was the most instructive to me. I never quite looked at "newsroom objectivity" the same again.

Afternoon at Miriam’s Kitchen

Last week, our company spent an afternoon preparing and serving food at Miriam's Kitchen, a charity dedicated to ending chronic homelessness in Washington, DC. It was an eye-opening experience --...

PR Tips | Want Quick, Quality Hits? Go Local

Pitching a story or oped successfully takes a lot of hard work. In fact, it can be so difficult that many people – and even PR practitioners – simply give up. But if you pitch locally, your job suddenly becomes easier. For example, let’s say you wanted to pitch a story about the mayor of a suburban town outside Philadelphia. If you tried pitching the Miami Herald, you’d probably strike out. You’d have a much better success rate if you targeted the Philadelphia Inquirer or a local paper because of the geographic connection. So going local makes it easy to get fast hits. But what if you want to make a bigger splash? You can also apply this technique in reverse. There’s often a way to broaden the appeal of even the most local stories. For example, let’s say the suburban mayor’s solution to his town’s unemployment crisis contains lessons for how other towns could solve their unemployment problems, as well. Voila. With a few small tweaks, we have national appeal. To make our pitch even more attention-grabbing, we could plug in unemployment data for whatever state we’re pitching. If we pitch the Detroit Free Press, for example, we could call attention to Michigan statistics showing Detroit has a major unemployment problem – and our small-town mayor is offering a solution.