Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The socialized op-ed: 4 new options for opinion pieces

We pay less attention to them than the shiny social tools, but op-eds and opinion articles really expanded their range and came into their own in social media. Some of the first corporate blogs were, in essence, op-ed platforms that shared official and dissenting opinions. Today, your op-ed has many options thanks to social media. Here are four I've been noticing:
  1. Questioning the questioner: Question sites from Quora to Ask.com allow for a longer discussion of the question posed by your op-ed, so think of them as the after-party for your opinion posts. Mashable's roundup of the web's most buzzworthy questions of 2011 included several discussions of op-eds and opinions, such as the parenting discussion on Quora about Is Amy Chua right when she explains why Chinese mothers are superior in an op-ed? The question led to readers sharing experiences and included responses from Chua. Take a leaf from her book, op-ed authors, and take to question sites to continue the discussion on your next opinion piece.
  2. Video documentary as op-ed: The New York Times calls them "op-docs," a name that might need some work. The idea: Use short, opinionated documentaries as opinion "articles" online. This week, Taking the Waste Out of Wastewater offers the latest example of the form; the package includes a commentary/introduction from the filmmaker. That gives communicators a new option for op-ed submissions to news sites--or the inspiration to post their own docu-op-eds online.
  3. A wider landscape for op-eds: Traditional news media outlets aren't your only options for op-eds. Popular blogs like Mashable feature op-eds (try this one on 10 features missing from Pinterest), and there's no reason you can't approach a popular news blog to ask whether it would publish an opinion piece from your organization.
  4. Get educated on the ed board: It's always good to suss out your intended media targets, but editorial boards have been short on transparency, traditionally. Not so the Florida Sun-Sentinal, where the ed board is tweeting its meetings in part to show how its opinions are formed. It's a surprisingly open discussion of whether topics qualify for editorial treatment. If you're thinking of an op-ed on the topic, it's an essential eavesdrop opportunity.
How are you using social networks for your op-eds and opinion articles? Share in the comments.

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