By Susanna Kalnes, Senior Associate
Under the massive public relations umbrella, there are many tactics that can be deployed to reach your target audience(s). You can reach your publics via earned media relations, paid advertorials, event marketing, social media/influencer partnerships, speaking engagements, and much, more, more. Perhaps one of the most overlooked tactics, however, is the op-ed submission. An op-ed, or opinion editorial, is a narrative essay that presents the writer’s opinion or thoughts on an issue. The purpose of an op-ed can be to either persuade others or strengthen an author’s credentials or message.
This earned media tactic is very different than your typical “pitch a story angle” method and can be an effective way of getting a business’ story out there. Many media outlets, from The New York Times and Chicago Tribune to Wall Street Journal and Time magazine, all regularly accept op-ed submissions for potential publication.
As a general rule of thumb, media outlets accepting opinion pieces are looking for articles that follow a specific mold. The articles must be:
- Relevant to current events and dialogs
- Relevant to the audience’s interests, geographic location, etc.
- Understood by the average reader/layman
- Written by a credentialed or educated source
- Opinionated, of course, without being offensive
Oftentimes, publications have specific requirements for word count, too. Some editors may also place priority on content that references other recent articles from that publication.
All that said, there can be massive competition to have your op-ed article placed in the limited space available for these articles. That’s why it’s important to understand the general elements that make an op-ed article good. Here are some tried-and-true guidelines:
- Start with a strong and compelling first sentence. With hundreds of op-ed submissions to review, it’s important that you hook the editor (and the reader) from the very start. Make sure your opening statement is opinionated.
- Be informal and conversational in tone, as though you are debating a friend or family member. Get to the point right away and don’t be afraid to express how you really feel. This is one time in journalism that subjectivity is applauded.
- Be brief, be brilliant, and be gone. Op-eds are not meant to be novels. They are meant to be short and thought-provoking, so get to your point hard and fast.
A good PR person will know the key players at their client’s business or organization so well, that they are not only able to suggest ideas for opinion pieces but can also ghost write for them. For more information on this strategy or to discuss other PR tactics, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.