HOW TO WRITE AND PUBLISH AN OP-ED
What is an op-ed?
An op-ed is so named because it is an opinion piece that usually appears opposite the editorial page of a newspaper. They might be called ‘Opinion’, ‘Comment’, ‘Talking Point’, ‘Soapbox’ or a similar title.
- They are short – usually 500-700 words, concise and compelling.
- They make one clear argument with one specific ask.
- They are opinion pieces – so have an active, personal voice with personal anecdotes.
They are most useful when writing an original piece situated within current issues. It’s most often a good tactic to approach the piece through your own experiences or relationship to the situation while maintaining a unique approach; are you writing as a parent? A traveller? How can you relate to the situation based off your experiences? The op-ed can be given a lot of exposure in a paper, so the extra effort is worth it - you can really make a difference here.
How do you write an op-ed?
Using the EPIC format is a great place to start:
- Engage your reader – use a surprising statistic or catchy opening line.
- Problem – what is the issue you’re addressing in this piece?
- Inform about solutions – what can be done? What is the justification for your ask?
- Call to action – what do you want the reader, or a political leader, to do?
An op-ed is not a report, so the tone should be light, conversational, and easy to read. Edit your piece ruthlessly, or ask for help editing – it is important to use your words economically and leave out anything unnecessary.
How do you get an op-ed published?
Before you start trying to get your op-ed published, you need to answer five questions:
- Where will you try to get it published?
- What are their submission guidelines?
- What is the name, phone number and email address of the editor of the publication?
- Why would this publication be interested in publishing your piece?
- What is your pitch? How do you sell the piece and pique the interest of an editor in a sentence or two?
To pitch an op-ed, call the editor of the publication and introduce yourself, tell them you have an oped you’d like to offer them, give them the pitch, and ask if they are interested. For smaller papers, you might even be able to ask for a short meeting over coffee to discuss the piece. It can take a few conversations and several follow-up calls to get an op-ed published.
What if they say no?
- Find out why, and if a revision would make them more likely to publish the piece.
- If your piece is rejected, move on to the next publication.
- No luck at all? Cut it down to 200 words and send as a letter to the editor.
What if they say yes?!
- Confirm the process – what do you need to do next?
- Send any revisions to the editor in a timely fashion.
- Check the paper to see when it’s published – editors aren’t always able to give you a 100% certain date for publication, so take the initiative and look for yourself.
- Make sure we know about it! Email email@example.com
- When it’s published, send a copy to your MP and any Senators you have a relationship with.
- Share it on social media.
- Send a thank you letter to the publication.
- Feel great about yourself – you have achieved something fantastic!
As always, RESULTS is here to support you to create and publish your op-ed, so please get in touch if you need help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org