It''s been a great week at DPK Public Relations, partly because we had a big success on behalf of client Pinchak & Associates (www.apimmigration.com), a Houston law firm that concentrates on business immigration law. We worked with Principal Ann Pinchak to research and develop an op-ed, then successfully negotiated placement of the piece in the Outlook section of the Sunday Houston Chronicle.
Unfortunately, the Chronicle has removed the piece from its Web site, but I can e-mail a reprint upon request.
Op-eds can be a terrific way to gain visibility and to distinguish an individual or company from its competitors. There are a few steps that can increase the likelihood that your op-ed will get published.
- Narrow the scope of your subject matter to something that pertains to those reached by the publication you are targeting. The Pinchak op-ed refers to a story that had appeared earlier in The Chronicle and described how that story just scratched the surface of a serious problem.
- Think globally but write locally. Many editors won''t give your op-ed serious consideration unless it has a local element, even if you are writing about a national issue.
- Make sure that the subject matter is fresh and you have a unique point-of-view. If you are simply saying "me too," you should back up and explore what new thinking you bring to the subject.
- Make your argument accessible to a general audience. In the Pinchak piece, we related immigration to the health and welfare of people throughout the community.
- Make your point in the first few sentences and write the first couple paragraphs in such a way that the reader doesn''t really have to consume the rest of the piece.
- While it''s fair game to point out problems, the best op-eds focus on solutions.
- Never use an op-ed as a vehicle to explicitly sell your products or services. The op-ed will serve the purpose of positioning you as an expert on the topic without a sales pitch and the implicit message will be loud and clear: you are best for the job.
- Before submitting the piece, check the newspaper''s specifications regarding length and whether they accept op-eds that have already been published elsewhere. Normally, publications require the contact information of the author and they almost always call to confirm that the person whose name is on it really wrote it.
- Don''t depend on the op-ed alone to achieve your objectives. Plan to merchandize the piece by negotiating reprint rights, posting a link on your Web site and making it the focus of a direct mail effort.
Of course, an op-ed initiative has down sides as well that should be considered before moving forward.
There is a lot of competition for op-ed space and the vast majority of submissions never get published. That can be a lot of wasted time. Meanwhile, if you are lucky (or good) enough to get published, your op-ed can make you the focus of criticism.
Just as we did for Pinchak & Associates, DPK Public Relations can help your organization develop an op-ed that communicates your key messages and strengthens your competitive position in the market. If your organization needs help developing and negotiating placement of an op-ed, contact DPK Public Relations at 832-467-2904 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.