10 Tips for Writing and Landing Op-eds

So you have something to say and want to publish an op-ed? Here are some tips to help you get there.

  1. Make sure it’s an op-ed. Are you offering a newsworthy or timely opinion? Do you have authority on the subject or a unique perspective? If not, consider self-publishing.
  1. Grab readers’ attention at the top. From the first line, your writing must compel today’s distracted reader to keep reading.
  1. Write fast, edit deliberately. Refine, read your draft out loud, ask others to edit, cut 100 words and refine again. 
  1. Keep it simple. Write in your normal voice. Short, simple words and sentences are best. Use adverbs only when no verb fits.
  1. Connect emotionally. Your reader won’t remember what you said, but how you made them feel. 
  1. Use vivid details. Small observations can say something big, like sights, sounds, smells and emotions. 
  1. Use examples. Readers often won’t remember facts or statistics, but they will remember people. Anecdotes are great for localized pitches. Examples can help de-mystify a complex topic.
  1. Maximize your chances. Landing a placement requires a well-written piece, a tightly written pitch note, an outlet that matches your audience (with backup plans) and getting your piece to the right people. 
  1. Build relationships with editors. Your piece stands a much better chance if you have a direct line to an op-ed editor. As you do outreach and land placements, work to maintain relationships with those editors to prime future pitches and learn more about what catches their eye. 
  1. Consider alternatives. If all else fails, would the piece fit your organization’s blog? Medium? LinkedIn?