Op-Eds are a frequent part of our work with our partners.
If you haven’t used Op-Eds as part of your communications plans before, let’s talk about why we value Op-Eds—and why you should too.
Reason 1: You Control the Message
When it comes to Op-Eds, you hold the reins to your story. It’s a chance to speak directly to your audience in your own voice, from your own perspective, with your own message.
We always start with messaging as the foundation of the Op-Eds we develop with our partners. Because it’s an invaluable opportunity to get those messages across to our target audiences.
Liza Sacilioc, our content strategist, sums it up perfectly: “It’s effective because it’s not written by someone else. We’re writing it. And it starts with the messaging and the points we want the reader to walk away with.”
Reason 2: You Inspire Action
It’s not just about sharing your perspective; it’s about inspiring action. An Op-Ed is an opportunity to persuade people to understand the importance of an issue, reconsider their perspective, or take a desired action.
It’s a rallying call. Because of this, we’re always sure to persuade the audience why the issue at hand matters to them. “For the Op-Eds we’ve written,” Liza says, “we make it clear that this is an issue that impacts you and your community. This is how you can get involved or this is why it’s important for you to be vocal about it.”
Think about your organization’s goals. We’ve recommended Op-Eds to our partners, for example, when they’re looking to influence public opinion or reach decision-makers.
Reason 3: You Stand Out
Here’s another reason to include Op-Eds in your communications strategies.
Because an Op-Ed is written from your perspective, it’s a chance to differentiate yourself. To stand out. You can provide a distinct viewpoint on an issue that you have authority on and that’s important to your industry.
If there’s a variety of companies or organizations or thought leaders in the same space as you, an Op-Ed lets you plant your flag and share why you’re different.
And once your Op-Ed’s out there, readers will begin to associate you with the issues you’re talking about and the ideas you’re promoting—increasing your brand visibility and your credibility. Speaking of…
Reason 4: You Raise Visibility and Build Credibility
We’ve talked before about how when we pitch our partners’ stories, we often target local, regional, or trade outlets. That goes for Op-Eds too.
You might be thinking: If I’m putting all this work into an Op-Ed, I want it to be in the outlet with the widest reach. Go big or go home, right?
But there are two key benefits of local and trade publications we always talk to our partners about:
- It can be more likely to result in placement. In a local or trade outlet, it’s clear why your Op-Ed is relevant to their audience. Getting into a national outlet usually requires having something to say that matters to a national audience at the right time—and that’s difficult to do consistently enough to build your thought leadership.
- Being published online makes you Google-able. No matter which local outlet your Op-Ed’s placed in, it’s likely to be published on their website, too. That means your local Op-Ed can be seen by people outside of that local community, through social media, web searches, etc. That expands your reach and builds your credibility—beyond only the local outlet’s audience.
Reason 5: We Can Target Locally
Many of our partners provide services to their local communities. That’s true for a lot of organizations and businesses.
By getting local, you can get specific. “An Op-Ed’s a great vehicle to reach the local community,” says Julie Rosenthal. Localization makes your call to action (see reason #2!) that much more effective—because you can get specific with details that connect to your audience.
Going local doesn’t mean you’re confined to only one possible outlet. The community you work in may encompass several counties, for example, each with their own local outlets. When developing your Op-Ed, you can start with your core message and then craft multiple versions tailored with details specific to each of those outlets’ audiences.
Here’s Why We Know Op-Eds Work
With United Way of the National Capital Area’s ALICE Lives Here campaign, localized Op-Eds were a perfect strategy. With localized Op-Eds, we were able to:
- Build off of a key message that there are many individuals and families in the D.C. region that are employed but experiencing financial hardship—and ALICE provides a fuller picture of that.
- Drive action by encouraging audiences to donate during United Way NCA’s Do More 24 day of giving.
- Help United Way NCA stand out as an authority on this topic, bringing ALICE into the vernacular and raising awareness about this significant issue.
- Include details that were specific to each county Op-Eds were published in, driving home the understanding that ALICE includes people who are our neighbors, coworkers, friends, etc.
That’s why we value Op-Eds.
They’re often a cornerstone of our strategic approach when we collaborate with our partners. They allow us to articulate our partners’ viewpoints authentically, increase their visibility, and drive change.
If you’re looking to do any of that, an Op-Ed’s a great place to start.