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Op-Eds and Public Opinion

photo credit: Street matt via photopin cc

photo credit: Street matt via photopin cc

Op-eds can be tricky; they’re difficult to write and even more difficult to publish. However, they are incredibly valuable to community organizations and leadership voices; op-eds provide an unfiltered public platform where community members and organizations can voice their concerns, perspectives and solutions.

We’re sure you’ve read an op-ed or two in your time, but we figured a mini-refresher can always do some good. In this blog edition we’ll go over how op-eds work and how they can help your organization propel messages into the public eye.

Op-ed is short for opinion editorial, and these public opinions are written by community members and experts and published most often in print media. Op-eds focus on current issues; they allow valuable new voices to enter ongoing debates in the media to offer up new perspectives and/or solutions.

If released in a timely manner—that ties into current news events or trends—an op-ed can bring all the right kinds of attention to the work or messages your organization cares about.

“So…how do you write one of these op-eds you speak of?” you ask.

In theory, writing an op-ed should be easy; you simply express your ideas and opinions, right? Unfortunately it isn’t quite so simple. A lot of strategy and thought is needed to win over the typical journal editor.

There is one golden thing to remember: op-eds are opinion pieces written to introduce new perspectives to an ongoing public dialogue. So, before you begin, take a moment to evaluate your perspective and identify the unique angle or contribution to the conversation you can bring. When you get to writing, your process will be much cleaner and your message will be that much stronger.

Now that you’re pumped up and ready to contribute your two cents to change public opinion, we bring you some MediaDesk NM Tips on crafting an irresistible op-ed:

  1. Get straight to the point: With 600 words or less there’s no time to waste. Make your op-ed lean. Stick to one clear message and be simple and succinct.
  2. Get them hooked: We said it once, but it is worth saying again: Get straight to the point! But don’t just get to the point, be creative about it. Draw readers in with something unexpected and thought provoking early on to capture their attention and get them to read through.
  3. Make it relevant: Op-eds are public conversations, so make sure you’re not talking to yourself. No one will print your op-ed if it covers an issue that isn’t currently in the public eye. Be strategic about releasing your message at a time when it will actually be heard and put to good use.
  4. Don’t put them to sleep: Leave your jargon at the door and write with a strong, decisive and accessible voice.
  5. Give them something to do: People don’t respond well to problems with no solutions. Give your audience reasonable steps to take to make headway on the issue at hand. Ultimately, the whole point of an op-ed is to inform and activate a broader audience.

Op-eds are a way to introduce critical perspectives into public discussion and propose solutions to relevant problems. Here at MediaDesk we’re always ready to help you craft a message, and not just any kind of message, but one that creates ripples that effect change as soon as it hits.

To learn more about getting your message out through op-eds contact us or check out some of the resources below:

http://www.theopedproject.org/

http://newsoffice.duke.edu/duke_resources/oped

 

 

Written by Marissa Higdon

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