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Public Relations & the Media

Op-Ed Pieces3

An opinion editorial (op-ed) is a section of a newspaper that allows readers to share their opinions. Normally, the author of an opinion editorial has direct experience or knowledge of a particular issue. Readers who see their op-eds published are usually well-known by the newspaper. Your background and perspective should make your opinion editorial distinctive.

Prior to writing an op-ed, consider these questions to ensure that you make the necessary points for an effective piece:

  • What is the problem in the community that your organization is solving?
  • How does your organization help to solve this problem?
  • Describe your organization. How does it work?
  • Why wasn’t the problem solved before? What was the obstacle?
  • How can you paint a picture in someone’s mind through your words?
  • Which community leaders, groups or people in the community agree with you? Why?
  • Which community leaders, groups or people in the community disagree with you? Why?
  • What is the urgency?
  • Who does this affect?
  • What is the history of this story? What has been done before?

A few guiding principles to consider when placing one an op-ed:

  • Generally, op-eds are 800 words or less in length. Before writing an op-ed, contact the op-ed page editor of your local paper for submission policies and guidelines.
  • An op-ed should argue a point and the point being made should be stated clearly up front. There should be a compelling hook to generate interest in the op-ed and demonstrate its relevance to the readers and the community.
  • Make your case from the top down. Begin with the premise of your opinion and then back up your opinion with facts. Do not present the facts first and save your opinion for the conclusion.
  • Submit a timely piece. It should relate to something in the news.
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short.
  • Offer specific recommendations to address the issues you raise.