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    Home Articles

    How to Write an OP-ED

    One of the best ways for PR writers to gain credible visibility for a corporate client is to have that company's chief executive submit an opinion piece to a major newspaper and have it published. Easier said than done.

    Quite often, most CEOs have no time to write an op-ed; even fewer know how. That's where you step in to help the executive cract a fiery opinion, which is supported by facts making his or her case. An op-ed is not an essay, something that slowly unrolls like a carpet, building momentum to some point or conclustion. It's the opposite.

    In an op-ed, you essentially state your conclusion first. You make your strongest point up front, then spend the rest of the op-ed making your case, or back-filling with the facts. Done right, it's persuasive writing at its best. You will help the company win converts, gain high-quality publicity for the company, and you will be reacing the elite audience of opinion-makers who regularly read the op-ed pages.

    Here's a checklist to keep your op-ed on track:

    • Focus tightly on one issue or idea -- in your first paragraph. Be brief.
    • Express your opinion, then base it on factul, researched or first-hand information.
    • Be timely, controversial, but not outrageous. Be the voice of reason.
    • Be personal and conversational; it can help you make your point. No one likes a stuffed shirt.
    • Be humorous, provided that your topic lends itself to humor.
    • Have a clear editorial viewpoint - come down hard on one side of the issue. Don't equivocate.
    • Provide insight, understanding: educate your reader without being preachy.
    • Near the end, clearly re-state your position and issue a call to action. Don't philosophize.
    • Have verve, and "fire in the gut" indignation to accompany your logical analysis.
    • Don't ramble or let your op-ed unfold slowly, as in an essay.
    • Use clear, powerful direct language.
    • Emphasize active verbs, forget the adjectives and adverbs, which only weaken writing.
    • Avoid cliches and jargon.
    • Appeal to the average reader. Clarity is paramount.
    • Write 750 double-spaced words or less (fewer is always better).
    • Include a brief bio, along with your phone number, email address, and mailing address at the bottom.

    Many major newspapers today accept timely op-eds by email. Check the paper's website first to be sure what its policy is. While it's tempting to fire off your op-ed to the New York Times, remember that there are many other major newspapers to consider. The New York Times receives more op-eds daily than any other paper in the US, so competition is fierce. It's better to be published in another excellent paper than to be not published in The New York Times.

    Copyright © John McLain

    John McLain is a former journalist and national media consultant. His second book, HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR HOME BUSINESS, is being published as a trade paperback in February 2002 by Metropolis Ink. He is the owner of McLain Communications. His novel, THE RECKONING, was published in December 2001, and he has completed a screenplay based on his novel. McLain has published short stories in many literary magazines, and he is a member of Western Writers of America.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ

    WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! Kick start your imagination, ignite your creativity, and begin your journey towards becoming an outstanding writer.

    Grab a copy of WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! from and receive 2 free e-books to encourage and nurture the writer in you. You'll also receive Write Memories, a journaling workbook available for free only to WEEKLY WRITES book owners. And finally, as a WEEKLY WRITES book owner, you'll have free access to e-mail courses such as JOYFUL WRITES: Celebrate Your Life through Writing

    For excerpts, reviews and what you need to do to receive the 2 free e-books, Write Memories and sign up for free e-mail courses, just head on to the Weekly Writes Book Official Site. (Clicking on the link will open a new window.)


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