Op-eds, also known as guest editorials, are a great way to reach opinion makers and leaders and establish or build your thought leadership. They are also hard to write and even harder to place - but the reward is worth it. Here's a checklist to get your op-ed drafted and placed:
Make it newsworthy. Timing is essential. Have your op-ed ready to go when an issue is in the news - whether it is controversy over a government policy proposal or the latest hot topic. For example, following Superstorm Sandy, Community Healthcare Network's CEO penned an op-ed for the Huffington Post about health care impacts and future recommendations. Read it here.
Think about placement in advance. Different outlets have different op-ed styles and interests. For example, The New York Times is interested, for the most part, in national issues, whereas the Daily News is interested in more local issues. Have a publication in mind when you write the op-ed so that the end product is in line with a publication's interest area and style.
Make a single point -- well. You cannot solve all of the world's problems in 650 words. Be satisfied with making a single point clearly and persuasively and have a clear editorial viewpoint. If you cannot explain your message and main point in a sentence or two, you're trying to cover too much. For example, WHEDco's Nancy Biberman focused on just one public education challenge in this Daily News op-ed.
Offer specific recommendations. An op-ed is not a news story; it is your opinion about a newsworthy issue, so offer recommendations. How exactly should New York City safeguard its environment, or schools change their bullying policy? Rely on your expertise and experience to make your case.
Showing is better than discussing, but don't forget your facts. People remember colorful details. When writing an op-ed, look for great examples that will bring your argument to life. But, don't forget to base your opinion on factual and researched information. For example, check out this recent op-ed from Downtown Alliance's Liz Berger.
Make every word, every paragraph count. Op-ed editors receive hundreds of op-eds. The ones that get published are timely, present an interesting point of view, offer recommendations, and are well written. Make sure every word, every paragraph is both necessary and important to making your point.
How to submit an article. Some outlets - like The New York Times - list the op-ed email online. For other outlets, call the main number and ask for the opinion page editor. Or, you can ask a reporter you know for help.