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Tips for writing and placing letters to the editors and op-ed pieces

Op-eds, or opinion-editorials, are a strong public education and advocacy vehicle. They are therefore a popular communications tool.

Newspapers receive hundreds of submissions of op-eds and letters to the editor every day. Getting an op-ed or a letter published can sometimes be difficult, especially in larger city markets.

When writing op-ed pieces you can increase your chance of getting it published by doing the following:

  • Comment on and inform a current event or debate.

  • Be timely. The news cycle moves on to the next story quickly. If you want to expand upon or comment on today’s news, you will need to submit your essay today or within the next few days. All media outlets now accept submissions by email. Check the editorial page of your target publication for submission instructions.

  • Use the local angle and submit your work to your local publication. Your local newspaper will be more inclined to publish an essay by local authors. Remember that if you only target the New York Times and the Washington Post, you will be competing with senior federal officials and members of Congress for op-ed space.

  • Write tight. The typical published op-ed is between 700 and 1,000 words.

  • Make a unique point. Know what your target publication published recently about your topic, especially on the op-ed page. Don’t repeat those arguments.

  • Use the behavioral science literature to support your argument