An op-ed is an opinion piece, often published in newspapers, and more recently in online publications. The term “op-ed” means opposite the editorial. In newspapers, it describes the common placement of an op-ed piece being on the page opposite an editorial. Op-eds are most often published by the author’s local newspaper, and can be regarding everything from major national (or international) news stories, to smaller local town issues.
Purposes of Op-eds
Op-eds are designed to offer an alternate position, generally from an expert in the industry or subject area (or occasionally a more general reader in the case of local news angles). In a general sense, op-eds are offered to educate members of the public about an issue, beyond what the media outlet may have been covering independently.
From a PR perspective, op-eds are about exposure, awareness, and image-building. Exposure comes by the simple act of having someone’s name and thoughts shared publicly through the media. Op-eds can be used to raise awareness by bringing attention to political, social, or other issues of particular importance to both the writer of the op-ed and the public they’re trying to reach. Op-eds help as an image-building tool as well, by helping to brand the author of the piece as an authority source on the particular issue at hand.
How to Get an Op-ed Published
One of the most important factors in whether an op-ed piece will be published is whether or not its author has the appropriate experience or credentials in the subject matter to make them appear as an expert. So only write op-eds relating to areas that can be covered with authority. It’s easier to have an op-ed picked up by a local newspaper than a national publication, so start local when distributing the op-ed. An op-ed should only be distributed to one media outlet at a time. They’re not designed to be mass-distributed. Chances of having an op-ed published can also be increased by having its style correspond (at least somewhat) to that of the publication being targeted. It’s also important to make sure the information contained within the op-ed is actually of interest to the publication’s target readers, and preferably on a subject that they would be passionate about.