Mastering the Art of Writing and Pitching an Opinion Piece
Being viewed as an expert on the coaching industry and the value of coaching can provide great benefit for your business. One way to achieve such distinction is to create opinion pieces for respected publications.
Opinion articles traditionally are published in print media opposite the editorial page, hence the shorthand term ‘op-ed.’ These articles generally come from an expert not affiliated with the publication but recognized as a “thought leader” in their field. Often, the author is a subject matter expert with the established qualifications to share an insightful, informed perspective. Op-eds are published to provoke engagement and discussion among readers. These pieces are usually longer than a letter to the editor and are submitted as commentary on newsworthy issues, or in response to opinions expressed elsewhere. Most often, they are backed with facts, historical data or statistics.
The true art to mastering this type of writing and getting published comes down to three key steps—listed here with tips on how to get noticed by the editors of respected publications and more.
Do your Homework
Before you even begin writing your piece, it’s important to first research several publications and review their opinion submission guidelines, usually available on their websites. This will give you a framework for your article and increase its potential for acceptance.
Let’s be honest, editors are busy! They like to see that you’ve already done your homework on what they need to publish your piece. They are not inclined to devote significant time to edit, revise or conform your piece to their standards and interests. That’s your job. To accomplish this, you need to ensure that your opinion piece is going to fit the publication’s audience and editorial calendar.
Create a list of the top ten publications aligned with your message and target client audience. Then compile all the details you can find about each outlets’ guidelines. Take time to read through past opinion pieces and topics that the publication generally covers. This will give you a good feel for what makes the final cut.
Crafting the Perfect Pitch
Before you submit, verify the editors’ interest. You can do that by email. With any email you are crafting for members of the media, the key always is to be short, sweet and to the point. Grab their attention with a subject line that is catchy and no more than 65 characters.
Since you will be specifically pitching an opinion piece, even if it is not already written, provide a synopsis of your position and perspective, why it is timely and relevant and what your final piece will suggest. Remember, it is an “opinion,” so be sure to state yours.
The purpose of the email pitch is to convince the editor why your position matters to their readership. Paint a picture by providing a possible headline, your viewpoint and the “Why” behind it. This section should be no longer than a paragraph.
It also is important to tailor your pitch to the publication. Tell them why your opinion piece is a fit for them. Be sure to tell them you have not submitted it elsewhere or published it before. The piece must be unique to the outlet, significant, and interesting. Mention a few points you intend to make in your article.
Don’t be discouraged if you’re ultimately told no. As previously mentioned, you’ll want to research several publications and keep their guidelines in mind as you write, so you can be flexible if the first publication you pitched rejects your piece. Keep moving forward and be resilient. Work through your list and tweak your pitch for the editor of the next publication.
What if you don’t get a response at all? It’s appropriate to follow up a few times to check back. The typical rule of thumb is to give at least 48 hours before you reach out. You also can try calling the editor to see if you can get a response that way.
As you know, “mastering the art” of anything in life requires practice, so continue to look for opportunities to hone the skill of writing and pitching opinion pieces. The coaching industry is growing stronger each day and your voice as a coaching expert is relevant. Remember that opinion pieces are a great opportunity to showcase the power of coaching by sharing relevant perspectives, studies and testimonials about how coaching has helped so many people.
We live in a time where opinions are flippantly shared on social media, but you can stand out by securing your opinion in a credible publication and making your mark as a coaching industry leader.