I manage the day-to-day operations of WardAuto.com, writing and editing articles for the publication that traces its roots to 1924 as a source of automotive industry news, data and insight. I work with a team of editors, analysts and contributors reporting on a wide range of vehicle news, test drives and dealer and industry news.
In my industry analyst role, I’m studying the latest in advanced propulsion with a focus on efficiency and performance advancements in internal-combustion engines and electric-vehicle propulsion systems.
Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
We’re always digging into the latest automotive news with an emphasis on providing insights informed by our deep industry data covering everything from sales and production numbers to installation information for everything from ADAS to vehicle powertrain types.
Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.
We don’t get too crazy here at Wards, but we do have fun while evaluating vehicles and vehicle systems. I recall having quite a bit of fun driving all-wheel-drive Toyotas in the snow, off-roading with the Ford Bronco and getting seat time in amazing vehicles we’re evaluating for Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems or Wards 10 Best Interiors & UX.
What story or stories are you most proud of?
I enjoyed writing about the Ford Bullitt Mustang (“Ford Chambers Another Bullitt”), describing the capability of the all-wheel-drive Dodge Challenger tackling snowy roads (“Snow No Challenge for AWD Dodge Muscle Car”) and using words to paint the picture of Nissan chief engineer Shinichi Kiga cracking a smile as I put the pedal to the metal in an early Infiniti prototype fitted with his Variable-Compression Turbo engine (“Infiniti’s Variable-Compression Engine Packs Punch”). I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the travails of charging a Chevrolet Bolt EV to get back and forth to the annual CAR Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, MI. It didn’t hurt that GM President Mark Reuss was offering encouragement via Facebook on that drive.
On the Wards Intelligence side, I’m proud of work I’ve done studying the many variants of all-wheel-drive systems and how electrification is changing the way those powertrains are delivered.
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?
I’m always looking for ways to provide some deeper insight or an angle that isn’t immediately obvious, some element that will stick with the reader and that they might share with others.
How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?
I enjoyed a 17-year career at several Detroit area newspapers, including 12 years at The Oakland Press in Pontiac, MI, before shifting gears and taking a job in public relations at Buick. That experience reacquainted me with the oil in my veins (I was a working auto mechanic in high school) and that led to a 13-year stint at AutoWeek magazine. I’ve been a Wards since 2015.
Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am … editing copy, planning coverage, scheduling test vehicles and working with contributors. We also participate in conferences so I spend some of my time working on presentations and webinars.
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?
Please take a look at wardauto.com and understand our coverage areas and emphasis before sending me your pitches. I receive numerous emails every day and it helps if the PR person has suggestions for articles that are relevant to our readers.
Any pet peeves with PR people?
Slow response. I’m often working on tight timeframes and when I need a quick reply, I’ll indicate that in my email, text or voice message. Please get back to me ASAP, even if it’s just to tell me you can’t answer my question.
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, some fact about you that few people know, etc.)
I grew up on a small lake in Michigan and love being around water in all forms (that includes snow). So much of my downtime goes into relaxing on the water or on a beach, kayaking, snow skiing and generally enjoying the outdoors. I’m also an active community volunteer, serving as an officer in my local Sons of the American Legion squadron, which lately involves helping to run a huge outdoor cornhole league. And somewhere back in time, I was an elected school board member.
Check out Bob’s recent articles: