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6 tips on writing and placing op ed texts

Whatever you think about old media or the death of print, op ed texts under a client’s byline have value if done right. There’s little doubt that they’re a great way to position a person/firm as a thought leader.

It had been awhile since I’d done this, but I just got done writing something for a client and some of the old tricks came back to me.

Here are 6 things to remember about writing and placing op ed pieces:

  1. The most important thing – before any writing begins – is to have a sound idea of what your target outlets are. Think this through because the tone of the piece and the information you reference may change based upon the target. For example, what and how I write for the Globe and Mail will be different than what and how I write for the Edmonton Sun.
  2. Most op ed pieces make between 3 and 4 actual points, the rest is filler or setup. If you want to make 20 points, write a whitepaper. To keep these clear and in the front of my mind, I usually scribble down the key points down before I start writing the actual text.
  3. Keep your text under 600 words. This segues nicely with point number 3. I know you can probably get away with more, but aiming for 600 words will ensure you are succinct. If you come in above 800 words and are not amazing, you’re liable to fail.
  4. Tie the piece to news or something timely. Pretty simple. Getting this right greatly increases your chances of success.
  5. The lede is CRITICAL. It needs to be short and punchy. Academics, giant egos and other assorted jackasses have so much trouble with this one. Your lede must be short and declarative – not some giant frikkin comma splice. Comprende?
  6. Much is in the pitching. Figure out which person at a target outlet reviews and receives submission. Send your text to them, using their name in the subject line. Offer exclusives and mention that the offer will expire in X amount of time.

Do you have other tips to add?

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