There are many different tools that can be used for interacting with the media and the public. One of those tools is the op-ed.
An op-ed piece, when it is written well can be one of the most effective as well as persuasive tools at your disposal. Effective op-ed pieces can help influence the outcome of important legislation.
photo credit: derekGavey
An op-ed can be used by a policy maker to make an official policy pronouncement. It can also be used in a defensive manner for explaining policy positions. In addition, it can be used as a persuasive tool to change public policy or move public opinion. Regardless of the purpose behind an op-ed piece, it should always be timely and provide value to the issue at hand.
It should be kept in mind that op-ed pieces will be judged according to the same standards as any other story or article. One of the most important elements of a good op-ed piece is the writer’s credentials. The question of whether the writer has the right to speak about that particular topic is always asked, and editors will often weed out any pieces written by writers who are not credible on the relevant topic. Therefore, as part of the op-ed address why you are qualified to write the piece.
One of the most effective tools for writing an effective op-ed piece is to tell the story of someone else and include the policy within that story. Regardless of the reason for the piece, it will often be weak without a connection to someone that is tangible and real to the reader.
Remember that often the stated goal of people involved in promulgating public policy includes improving the lives of others. Therefore, the underlying goal of any op-ed piece should be to demonstrate how the action being supported or opposed benefits someone.
Before writing, have a rough idea of what you want to say, why you are qualified to say it, what your goals are, and which points you wish to emphasize. An effective op-ed piece should flow seamlessly. Don’t include anything inappropriate or jarring in the message that would cause someone to stop reading and put it aside. Ultimately, an effective op-ed piece should form a complete argument.
References: Section 2.10 Op-Eds, in Media Relations Handbook, by Brad Fitch
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