In our recent blog, we shared with you why Op-Eds are such a valuable way to get your messaging across.
To get the most out of your Op-Eds—and to make sure that your message is getting across—here are the best practices we recommend.
Start with your message
The foundation of a successful Op-Ed that plays a role in your overall strategy is a clear message.
But don’t start writing your Op-Ed and then weave your messaging in later. Before we pen a single word, we always circle back on our message and make sure it’s ready.
If we’re talking about a metaphor of weaving the message into the tapestry that’s our Op-Ed, then it’s worth it to make sure that the message is a strong (and eye-catching!) thread that we can work with. Answering these questions is a great way to know if our message is ready for our Op-Ed:
- What do we want to convey to the audience?
- What’s the core issue we aim to address?
Then, use the message as a guiding light throughout the entire writing process. Maybe you’ll find it helpful to keep it at the top of your draft as a reference note until you’ve finished writing. That way it’s always in your face, keeping you on point and making sure you lead your audience to that message.
Focus on the cause
… and not your organization. An Op-Ed’s not a platform for self-promotion. Instead, it’s an opportunity to persuade people to understand the importance of an issue, reconsider their perspective, or take a desired action.
When we write Op-Eds with our partners, we keep the spotlight on the cause. We engage our audiences’ hearts and minds. An Op-Ed that’s self-promotional will get rejected—by the outlet we’re targeting and by our audience.
Here’s what our communications strategist Norma Kelly advises. “It’s a key point with any Op-Ed: You don’t want to be self-serving. Those will get rejected pretty much anywhere. The more that you are bringing it to the community… What’s the issue? How can people get involved? What can you do to make a difference? Bring the cause to light more than anything.”
Celebrate those doing it right
Do you know whose achievements you can tout in your Op-Ed? Individuals and organizations who are doing it right. Highlight their achievements on the issue you’re addressing and explain why their work matters.
When we do this, we accomplish several things:
- We reinforce our authentic commitment to the cause.
- We build bridges with our community and strengthen our relationships with our partners.
- We provide concrete examples of what’s working for others to follow.
- We illustrate our willingness to share the spotlight and work as part of a collective effort.
Make it easy to care
To maximize the impact of your Op-Ed, tailor it to the audience of the outlet you’re targeting. Make the connections for them about why they should care and why your perspective matters. What are their interests, their previous knowledge of the issue, their concerns? If your Op-Ed is tailored for your audience, you’re more likely to have an impact.
When an issue impacts multiple communities, we work with our partners to create a template Op-Ed that contains the core message. Then, we adapt it to include details that matter to the readers of each different outlet we’re targeting. That reduces the amount of work needed to create multiple Op-Eds, ensures that the message carries through consistently, and helps make the message matter to each audience.
Make it timely
Timeliness is a critical factor in Op-Ed success. Keep a close eye on the news cycle and look for opportunities to connect your message to relevant topics. Op-Eds that relate to current events or provide fresh insights into ongoing issues are more likely to be placed—and more likely to capture your audience’s attention.
That’s how we do it with our partners. We watch for opportunities to get our partner’s message out there by connecting what our partners have to say with what people are already talking about.
And if your timely Op-Ed doesn’t get placed, there’s still an opportunity to move forward. You can keep it on hand if the issue’s likely to come up again (just make sure to modify it as circumstances change). Or you can pitch your expertise on the topic to reporters to provide valuable insights, securing media coverage that raises your visibility and advocates for your cause.
Op-Eds have the power to persuade, to shed light, to drive action. And using them strategically, reinforcing messaging… that’s how we make Op-Eds that much more powerful. That’s how we use Op-Eds to help our partners meet their goals.
By following these best practices, you can do the same. If you’re looking for someone who can partner with you to make sure you’re getting the most out of your Op-Eds, then don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.