Learn how to write an Op-ed piece

Recently, I am running a project which focusing on the abolition of death penalty in ASEAN region together with my another colleague. Since I am working in this kind of project, I have learned a lot about the campaign mechanisms, which for me it is a new experience and quite challenging. Moreover, we have a quite big team which coming from another part of this world. We have a project team, communication strategists, substance team, film production, public relation and event management team.

For me, the “machine” of this campaign project are the communication and the substance team. And me, I am working in between or even often with the two of them. It’s precious for me to learn how the communication strategist working on to run the campaign, moreover when I have to learn with the communication experts.

There is a new thing I feel the interest to learn more which is called an Op-eds. What is an Op-eds? Op-eds are articles which appear opposite of the editorial page of local, state, and national newspapers. They are written by local citizens, organisation leaders, experts, or others who are knowledgeable about an issue. By submitting an op-ed you can call attention to your issue.

I often wondering what is different between op-ed with another article in the newspaper. So I was Googling to find out step by step how to write an Op-Ed from one of the websites. Here is how you can write your own op-ed:

  1. Message
    Identify your reasons for writing an Op-Ed. Do you need to raise voter support for legislation? Are you trying to increase awareness of an issue? Understanding the reasons for writing the Op-Ed will help you hone the message and main points you should stress in the text.
  2. Audience
    Target your audience. Knowing your audience (policy makers, parents, youth, etc.) will help you decide which outlet to target.
  3. Outlet Rules
    Know where you plan to submit your Op-Ed and the requirements of the outlet. In most cases, the outlet will have a limit on word count usually between 500 and 800 words. Time the submission of your Op-Ed to coordinate with events or dates that stress your message.
  4. The Ask
    Now consider the objective of your Op-Ed. Your piece should provoke discussion, controversy, and response. What do you want your target audience to do?
  5. Get it Together
    Now with your objectives, target audience and purpose in mind, determine what background information is essential for the readers to understand if they are going to follow your argument. Develop a brief paragraph or two which explains this necessary background information.
  6. Aim!
    Focus on one issue in your Op-Ed and one clear action. Support your conclusion with three key points. Devote one paragraph to each supporting point. This paragraph breakdown will help maintain your focus and aid in the effective organisation of the Op-Ed as a unified piece.
  7. Focus
    Identify and discuss the opposing side to your argument. Counter the opposing arguments with facts and point out other weaknesses in the opposing message. Explain why your position is stronger.
  8. Fire!
    Your opening line should not make your reader turn the page. Importance should be placed on drawing the reader into the article and making the reader review the entire article. The article should end with a bang, not a yawn. Drive the point home and sum up the argument.
  9. Backup Support
    Submit your Op-Ed with a letter that provides your contact information and reasons why your article is timely and relevant to readers. Collaborating with a relevant public figure, policymaker, executive director, or advocate may maximise its impact on the audience. You might consider working with a relevant figure.
  10. Keep Pushing
    Thank the outlet if your piece is run. If your piece is not run, do not give up. Try different angles, different outlets, and different time periods to run your Op-Ed. Keep your information updated with changing events and sentiment.

So those things that we need to keep in mind when we about to write an op-ed to raising an important issue. In this death penalty campaign, we already published several op-eds by using prominent and key actors which always speaking loud and put a big concern on the death penalty in ASEAN countries. Luckily, I knew and met them already! And I am very proud of these people!

I hope someday I could make to write my own op-ed and publish it in the prominent newspaper! Wish me luck!

Source: Advocates for Youth

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