After recent success with several client opinion pieces making their way onto the pages of some of Sydney's biggest publications, Account Executive Stav Pisk shares her secrets.

Opinion pieces are a great way of gaining exposure for yourself or your organisation.  They are an integral part of any media plan.

A decent opinion piece, one that will make it into a reputable publication, must have a few basic elements.

1. Make sure it’s topical

Piggybacking on current affairs will give your opinion piece a better chance of getting published.

You should make opinion pieces an element of your media activities when you are creating together your communications strategy.

Ensure you or the people around you have their noses to the ground, so you can pounce on the next headline.

But remember, in a 24-hour news cycle, news can become irrelevant in an instant. You may find yourself scrambling to write at the last minute or miss the paper’s publication deadline.

While this mad rush may be stressful, this is one of the best ways to get published. So be prepared to produce your op-ed quickly. Having a draft version on file, which can quickly be topped and tailed, will make life easier.

2. Add to the debate

While straight news coverage provides the facts, op-eds provide the colour. When you finally nail your topic, consider whether you are adding something different to the debate.

Contrary to the name, an opinion piece is more than just your opinion – it needs to add value. Your point of view should be new and interesting.  

3. Know your audience

Whether we like it or not, media organisations have agendas.

Some publications are aligned with the left side of politics and some are aligned with the right.

Ask yourself whether your op-ed aligns with a publication’s agenda.

Similarly, reader demographics and views vary depending on the publication. An average reader of The Australian differs to the average Guardian reader.

Consider whether your topic is appropriate for the intended publication and its audience.

News websites are all about clicks, so they are unlikely to run a piece out of step with their audience’s views.  

4. Don’t ramble

Although opinion pieces can be more conversational than a traditional article, you should not ramble — there still needs to be a structure. There should be logic to an opinion piece: a beginning, middle, and an end.  

Your opinion piece must be an easy read, or readers will turn to the next page.

Don’t use jargon or complicated language. Avoid acronyms. Assume your readers know nothing and explain everything to them, without being condescending.

5. Back yourself up

Presumably, you are writing an opinion piece because you have something more to offer than just your thoughts on an issue.

You should have something to back you up, whether it be experience or expertise (for example, you are a doctor commenting on a recent announcement from the Department of Health) or you have done some research on the topic (people love statistics).

6. Call to action

While an opinion piece is not an advertorial, there should be a strategic reason behind it.  An opinion piece isn’t just a chance to get your name out there, it is an opportunity to encourage the public to act.

Time the publication of your op-ed with an important company event or announcement and weave your key messages into the piece to inform readers about your organisation.

7. Don't be a fence sitter

Presumably, you are writing an op-ed because you have strong feelings about something.

An op-ed is not a review of arguments for or against something. It is a one-sided debate, and the more controversial it is, the better.  

That being said, don't preach and stay humble - your opinion is not the only that matters, and this is a fine line to tread.

DID YOU KNOW?

Op-eds received their name from the editor of The New York Evening Standard, who placed a page of opinion pieces 'opposite' the 'editorial'. The abbreviation has now been appropriated to 'opinion editorial' and both are now regarded as acceptable.