Using Op-Eds To Get Your NFP Message Out
28 August 2006 at 1:08 pm
“Op-Eds” are those opinion pieces that appear regularly on the editorial pages of our daily newspapers. They can be an effective communication tool for Not for Profits but how do organisations make the pitch?
During a recent FIA professional development lunch, the deputy editor of the Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper, John Trevorrow offered a couple of tips on how to place an op-ed piece.
Firstly, organisations must have a clear topic in mind, as well as a clear goal. It is also a good idea to contact the publication to assess its initial interest in a piece. Op-Eds should be between 500-800 words.
Email addresses for editors/writers of various sections of the newspaper are easily found within the publication or can be found on their website under ‘contact us’. (Some newspaper websites have ‘contact the editor’ and ‘letters to the editor’ which only requires you to cut and paste your article and organisation details into the required fields.)
Remember that many industry experts, corporates, academics, NFPs and individuals are regularly putting forward topics for op-eds, so the competition is tough.
An alternative to the op-ed is to write a shorter version in a “letter to the editor” which has its own pages in each newspaper.
As part of media relationship building Trevorrow suggests looking through the newspapers to find the names of journalists who are regularly writing stories around this or similar topics and contact them.
Here are some of Pro Bono Australia’s tips on writing an Op-Ed piece for Australian newspapers.
Start by explaining how the topic or issue affects the newspaper’s readership. Use a personal story to explain the issue and to let the topic unfold. Otherwise start with an attention-grabbing statement that clearly states your overall message.
Use statistics to put the issue into context both locally and nationally if they are available.
Explain the problem in more detail and why it exists. Put your organisation’s point of view and/or refute an opposing view that might already be in the public arena.
Offer your solution to the problem and explain why it is the best option available.
Finish on a strong note. Repeat your message or make a call to action.
Finally add a note that explains your credentials as they relate to the topic.