Best Practices: Submitting an Op-ed or a Letter to the Editor

Getting an Op-ed published boils down to these five components.

 

We all have opinions, but how does one get an opinion published in your local newspaper?

Opinion Editors must comb through hundreds of submissions every week and select only a few op-eds and letters to the Editor that are fit for publication. With competition this fierce, how does one stand a chance?

After years of submitting hundreds of op-eds under my own name and for clients, I’ve managed to pick up on a few handy tips that may improve your chances of seeing your byline in ink.

Here are five recommendations: 

1.  Timeliness

The best way to have your submission run is to think like an Opinion Editor. That means anticipating news and being timely. If trying to weigh in on a pending piece of legislation dealing with small business owners, it makes sense to time your submission when the bill is being voted on, or there is an important committee meeting that may generate news.

2.  Originality

What makes your submission unique?

Why are you eminently qualified to speak on this issue? These are important questions when submitting your op-ed or letter to the editor.

Remember that you are likely competing with your local Member of Congress and other public elected officials. To increase your rate of success, you must make clear why your voice matters. Perhaps this means stressing the number of employees in your small business, or how a specific piece of regulation will have an impact on your ability to create jobs in the local community.

In short, be original!

3.  Length Matters

Less is better.

In other words, this is no time for a long introductory paragraph or going off in a tangent to make your point.

Cut to the chase immediately and make your points quickly. Every newspaper and online publication will have slightly different guidelines, but a good rule of thumb for most op-eds is to keep the word count under 600. For letters to the editor, it’s usually around 250. Again, every outlet differs, but what does not is that Opinion Editors are incredibly busy and don’t have time to edit and polish long pieces.

The easier their job, the better the odds your op-ed or letter to the editor will run.

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