What is an Op-Ed you say? An Op-ed (just an abbreviated from "opposite the editorial page") is an opinion piece that appears on a page dedicated solely to a newspaper, magazine, online publication or blog. They are often written by a subject-matter expert, a person with a unique perspective on an issue, or a regular columnist employed by the paper.
They are a fantastic way to get media coverage and raise your profile. So here are our top ten tips on how to get started on writing an op-ed.
1. What’s in it for me?
Getting an op-ed published will demonstrate that you are an authority on a given topic and shows to the media that you are interested in contributing to the conversation around it. This can help deliver more media opportunities in the future by elevating your media presence, positioning you as a thought leader in your field of study..
2. You need an opinion!
It sounds obvious, but you need to have an informed, passionate opinion about a story or news item related to your expertise. Remember that the purpose is to offer an opinion. It is not a news analysis or a weighing up of alternative views. It requires a clear thesis, backed by rigorously checked evidence, in the pursuit of a persuasive argument. Op-eds can highlight current research and connect your expertise to current events and real life.
3. Who’s your audience?
Who do you want to reach? Is your message for the general public or for a targeted audience? Evaluating your audience and their needs will help you write a more targeted, persuasive piece. Based on your audience, consider which media outlet may be most interested in publishing your op-ed. Is there a local angle? Is it more politically focused? Or, is it trade-specific?
4. How to get started
Once you have a few outlets in mind, consider and research the logistics: Do they publish contributed pieces? Is there a word count limit? Most op-eds are between 650 and 700 words. Make sure that you grab the reader’s attention from your very first sentence. Get to the point: Why does your topic matter? Why should it matter today? And why should the reader care what you have to say about it?
5. Be the expert
Readers will look to authors who have standing, either because they have expertise in their field or unique experience of a subject. If you can offer neither on a given topic you should not write about it, however passionate your views may be! Opinion editors are often keen on writers who can provide an unexpected or a controversial viewpoint.
Op-eds have to be timely. What’s making news today probably won’t make news next week. Even two days after the news has broken is often too late. What’s more, it’s traditional for the editorial pages to close earlier in the day than news pages so it’s often more important to write fast and submit, than to endlessly strive for perfection. Pieces that anticipate likely news events such as court cases or government decisions can make particularly engaging op-eds and are popular with news organisations, as they can set the tone for coverage of the event.
7. Hit send
Once it’s written, check it and double check it for mistakes – or better yet, get someone else to check it. Then send it with a brief pitch (insert hyperlink to https://www.profilerpr.com.au/post/how-to-be-pitch-perfect-get-your-story-told-in-the-media) it to your chosen journalist. Make sure to include a one-line biography and a professional photograph in your email.
8. How long to wait to hear back from an Editor?
If you have plenty of time you might give an editor a week or more before you check in. However, if your idea has a very short shelf life (relating to breaking news or a news hook that will only be good for a few days) you need to check in fairly quickly — with 48 hours, or perhaps even within 24 hours. The key is to be polite and not presumptuous – remember that editors are busy and juggling lots of ideas at once – but if your idea is timely and good for their readers, they will appreciate you checking in.
9. Promoting your op-ed
Congratulations! Your op-ed was accepted for publication. Now what? Make sure you share it on all your social media and online channels and evaluate other opportunities to leverage the content.
10. Need Help?
At Profiler PR we do everything we can to make it easy for you to succeed. We can help craft engaging op-ed pieces and pitch them to appropriate media outlets so contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org