Thanks to Preeti Kulkarni for contributing to this article
In the last article, we talked about the “So What?” paragraph. We touched on the function of the paragraph, tips for writing some of the critical sentences in it, and talked about some do’s and don’ts. Now that you have written a fantastic op-ed, what are you going to do with it? There are so many options that it can be daunting to decide what to do next. Luckily, this final article on op-eds will give you some of the best options to get your op-ed read by the general public.
Before You Pitch
Before pitching your op-ed to any journal, it is essential to have a specific topic and a well-written draft handy. Unless stated otherwise, newspapers or news corporations usually don’t want just an idea. It is also vital that the newspaper you choose has already published op-eds from the field you have written about. For example, it’s doubtful that the Wall Street Journal will publish an article related to healthcare. Find the newspaper that is the right fit for your op-ed.
Most newspapers also have a strict word count, so it is essential to check the submission guidelines of the newspaper you want to write for. At the end of this article, we will link you to the Op-Ed Project, which has compiled the submission guidelines for the top online and print newspapers. However, 600 words is a good starting point for your word count. Depending on the newspaper, you will most likely either have to cut down or lengthen your article.
Before pitching your op-ed, it is crucial to make sure that it will successfully convey your message. To do this, please check the article “Final Checklist” in this toolkit for some more writing tips and logistics.
Pitching an Op-Ed
Now that you have completed the preliminary steps, the time has come to pitch your op-ed to the newspaper of your choice. If your op-ed is about a cause or issue, finding a relevant coalition partner to sign on to the op-ed is a great way to add credibility while also promoting a worthy organization. The best way to get a partner on board is to call the organization and walk them through the publication process and the political impact that your op-ed could have. After potentially landing a cosigner, find the opinion editor at the newspaper where you want to publish and pitch your article.
Even if you are a fantastic writer (which we’re sure you are), your op-ed will not get published unless you pitch properly. For national newspapers, there are usually pitch guidelines found with the submission guidelines. However, for local papers, there are two ways to pitch. You can either make a pitch call or write a pitch email. For a pitch call, here is a sample script that you can use when calling the office. For a pitch email, the Op-Ed Project has compiled a list of tips for writing a solid one. Keep in mind that you can only pitch to one newspaper at a time, as editors don’t want other outlets publishing the same thing.
For breaking news op-eds, call the paper and let the editor know that you are writing a breaking news op-ed and will have it for them shortly. This call is a courteous way to get in touch with the editor and possibly have a spot reserved for your op-ed. For op-eds that are less time dependent, give the editor 48 hours to review your piece. After 48 hours, send a follow-up email. If your piece is on an evergreen topic, give them one to two weeks. If the editor doesn’t respond to a follow-up email in 24 hours, pull the op-ed.
When removing an op-ed, you must write to the editor to inform them of your decision. In this email, thank them for their time and consideration. As a good rule of thumb, no matter the outcome, thank the editor. Even if their initial answer is a “no,” your politeness might make them reconsider. If your op-ed has been selected, work with your editor on any edits they may have made, and ask for a copy of the op-ed before it gets published.
There you have it! You are now ready to pitch your op-ed. As mentioned earlier, the Op-Ed Project has compiled a list of submission guidelines for the most reputable print and online publications: https://www.theopedproject.org/submission-information.
If you have any more questions after reviewing this toolkit, please feel free to contact any of our journalism mentors! We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.