You may have wondered about ways to get your organization’s message in front of local target audiences. One influential way to do this is to write a piece and pitch it to your local news publication in the form of an op-ed, or a guest post. The benefits of an op-ed include the opportunity to control your message, draw a clear call to action and reach a target audience.

For example, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler wrote about issues around housing and homelessness in The Oregonian, and members of the City of Portland’s Age Friendly Cities Economic Development and Work Subcommittee urged employers to hire older workers.

Submitting an op-ed and getting it published can be a challenge, as publications can receive hundreds of submissions at a time to review. To increase the chances of your article going to the top of the list, make sure any op-ed you submit answers these questions:

  • What is the issue?
  • Who is affected?
  • Why is this newsworthy?
  • How can readers solve or address this issue?

After you answer those questions, consider these tips when writing your op-ed.

  1. Connect your piece to a trend or recent news. If there is an upcoming holiday or event that ties into your piece, make the connection for readers so they understand why this is timely news.
  2. Position the piece so that it is relevant to the publication’s audience. If you are submitting the piece to more than one publication, edit each slightly so that they reflect the area of the target publication. That way, readers are able to see their own communities reflected in each piece, making for a more powerful statement.
  3. Make it personal. Tell a specific story of someone in your organization or community to make the article relatable and show the issue’s direct impact.
  4. Include a call to action. Wrap up the op-ed by asking readers to act in their own lives or communities. Invite them to share their own stories with you by emailing or commenting on your social media posts.

If your op-ed is not chosen for publication, ask the editor for feedback. Often you can revise a piece and then submit again for consideration.

If you are successful in getting your op-ed published, congratulations! Be sure to thank the editor of the publication and offer to be a resource for future stories. And don’t forget to promote the piece to your stakeholders through social media and e-newsletters.

Have you ever pitched an op-ed? Let us know if you take a different approach in the comments.