Op-ed articles target the hearts and minds of the general public.
From a business standpoint, a successful op-ed piece can influence consumers and establish your company as a leader in its field. However, before your op-ed piece can be successful it has to be published. And getting op-ed pieces past editors and into print can be a challenge, even for skilled PR veterans.
One of the first strategies for placing op-ed articles is to make sure you're targeting the right publications. It might be easier to get an op-ed piece in a small village newspaper, but if it doesn't have much readership your efforts are probably a waste of time. Instead, submit your op-ed to regional newspapers with a larger readership and a more established reputation in the community.
Here are a few other op-ed placement strategies you should know about:
- Make it current. Newspapers live and breathe current events. If your op-ed is geared toward current news in the world or in your community it has a much better chance of being published.
- Keep it simple. Your mother may be impressed by the big words you can string together in a sentence, but editors won't be. Whenever possible, stick with short sentences, brief paragraphs, and words that are easily understood by the general public.
- Lead with your main point. The main point of your article should appear in the very first paragraph of the op-ed. Column space is at a premium and editors want to see op-eds that get straight to the point.
- End well. A good ending is a must for an effective op-ed. If the piece ends abruptly or leaves points undeveloped, it damages your argument and makes the entire article seem weak. Although there are exceptions, well-written op-eds conclude with prescriptive suggestions.
- Follow guidelines. Every publication has its own guidelines for op-eds. From an editorial perspective, length is the most critical guideline. An article length of about 750 words is a good rule of thumb for op-eds, but you will need to research the specific guidelines for every publication you target.
- Play nice. Entertain. An op-ed is a PR tool for your business. If its tone is angry or disrespectful, you can do tremendous damage to your reputation in the community. Editors dislike angry op-eds and are more likely to publish op-eds that entertain as well as persuade.