These days anyone can publish an op-ed piece … by simply posting an opinion story on his or her own blog. However, if your blog has yet to reach a readership of hundreds of thousands you may want consider a more traditional method to reach target audiences – drafting an opinion piece with the intent of getting it published in a printed newspaper or magazine.
Recently at a media panel hosted by c21, Ken Foskett, editor of the opinion pages for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, shared what he looks for when considering which op-ed submissions make it to print. The submission must be well-written, take a strong stand on one side of an issue or topic, and connect with timely news.
Coincidentally, at about the same time, two of our non-profit clients asked us for suggestions or “best practices” for writing and placing op-ed articles. While compiling these best practices and guidelines, we came across a useful article and “checklist” for writing op-ed pieces from former journalist John McLain. Below are 10 items from his checklist:
- Focus tightly on one issue or idea – in your first paragraph
- Express your opinion then base it on factual, researched or first-hand information
- Be timely, controversial but not outrageous
- Be personal and conversational
- Have a clear editorial viewpoint – come down hard on one side of the issue
- Educate your reader without being preachy
- Issue a call to action
- Use clear, powerful, direct language
- Avoid clichés and jargon
- Appeal to the average reader
You know what they say about opinions … yep, everyone has one. And, if you articulate your organization’s opinion or position well, it might actually be heard.