At Prism Group, we love to promote thought leadership opportunities with our clients—including opinion pieces (also known as “op-eds”). However, many subject matter experts (SMEs) need guidance when forming an opinion piece that editors will consider for publication.
Here are five things we recommend authors to consider when writing an op-ed:
Take a Strong Stance When drafting your op-ed, don’t be wishy-washy about your stance on an issue. This is about your opinion, and if you do not have a strong opinion about a topic you are writing on, you should consider a different topic. It is also important to note that editors are looking for pieces that will generate clicks and other forms of engagement.
An Op-Ed is Not an Ad for Your Business or Organization Perhaps the most common mistake in writing an opinion piece is the author being too self-promotional, which is a huge red flag for reputable opinion editors. While the author’s background and job title are important to establishing their authority on a subject, there should not be any language that could be viewed as trying to sell services, attack a competitor or directly promote upcoming events.
Use Well-Sourced Data to Support Your Point The primary point or stance of your op-ed should be supported by data from reputable sources. At Prism Group, we encourage clients to use data from federal, state and local governments and agencies, nonpartisan think tanks (examples: Pew Research Center, Brookings Institution, Urban Institute, Council on Foreign Relations, Center for Economic and Policy Research). If you were an attorney presenting your case, you would not walk into a court room without all of your evidence on-hand, would you?
Incorporate Recent Events into Your Piece Timeliness is a very important factor for an opinion piece. For example, if you are debating writing about a bill that has been in committee for months with low odds of moving forward OR a major agenda item supported by the Administration that is the topic of a Congressional hearing in the next two weeks, you should consider prioritizing the latter.
Consider Adding a Co-Author If your organization can collaborate with a leader of a similar-sized, mission-driven organization or high-profile SME on an opinion piece, the more likely an editor will leap at the opportunity to publish it. Why? It lends subject matter credibility and professional gravitas to the byline.
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