How to Write a Successful Op-Ed in 6 Steps

October 31, 2016

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We all have those pitches. The ones we know warrant a big story, but just can’t seem to find a home. When you work hard to pull all the pieces together (which, let’s be honest, is a miracle within itself), it’s tough to give up after one, two or even three failed attempts.

Enter the op-ed.

Since journalists are beyond pressed for time these days, sometimes the best way to place a story is to tweak the angle and write it yourself.

A journalism professor once told me the opinions page is the most read section of the newspaper because readers want to see what their peers are thinking. And with op-eds, you can control the message (as long as it’s not overly promotional, of course).

So, when it comes down to it, the op-ed is really a win-win — if you do it right.

The ideal op-ed model

Of course, the best way to determine how to write your own op-ed is to read the paper’s current op-eds. Are they typically 500 words? Do they use subheads? Do they include any promotional language?

Most publications have their own submission guidelines, and usually you’ll need the full piece written ahead of time. The more you follow their model, the better luck you’ll have.

Full disclosure though: Placing op-eds is hard. PR pros are savvy to this approach, and therefore only the best of the best will get placed. To increase your chances for success, here’s a six-step op-ed model you can follow:

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