How to Write an Op-Ed
by John McLain

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One of the best ways to gain credible visibility for a corporate client is to have that company's chief executive submit an opinion piece to a major newspaper and have it published. Easier said than done.

Quite often, most CEOs have no time to write an op-ed; even fewer know how. That's where you step in to help the executive craft a fiery opinion, which is supported by facts making his or her case. An op-ed is not an essay, something that slowly unrolls like a carpet, building momentum to some point or conclusion. It the opposite.

In an op-ed, you essentially state your conclusion first. You make your strongest point up front, then spend the rest of the op-ed making your case, or back-filling with the facts. Done right, it's persuasive writing at its best. You will help the company win converts, gain high-quality publicity for the company, and you will be reaching the elite audience of opinion-makers who regularly read the op-ed pages.

Here's a checklist to keep your op-ed on track:

Many major newspapers today accept timely op-eds by email. Check the paper's website first to be sure what its policy is. While it's tempting to fire off your op-ed to The New York Times, remember that there are many other major newspapers to consider. The New York Times receives more op-eds daily than any other paper in the US, so competition is fierce. It's better to be published in another excellent paper than to be not published in The New York Times.

Copyright © 2002 John McLain
This article may not be reprinted without the author's written permission.

John McLain is a former journalist and national media consultant. He is the author of How to Promote Your Home Business; his novel, The Reckoning, was published in December 2001, and he has completed a screenplay based on it. McLain has published short stories in many literary magazines. He is a member of Western Writers of America.


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