Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Reviving your op-ed skills in a world of alternative facts

In a world of 'alternative facts,' fast-moving positions, and policy changes, it doesn't matter whether you're a corporate, government, or nonprofit communicator. An op-ed or letter to the editor give you the chance to publicly counter, fact-check, or refute those decisions about which you have a different set of evidence.

It doesn't matter where you stand on the issues. What matters just now is your level of skill with op-eds, opinion articles that may be essay or letter length. (For example, the New York Times is currently encouraging 800-word essays from university students, professors, and administrators.) Fortunately, I have some catch-up lessons and cautionary tales to get you up to speed:
  1. Can everyone on your team write letters to editors and op-eds? If you're going to need to frequently counter or disprove what's out there, you need many utility infielders to handle the op-ed load. Letters to the editor are the short form of the op-ed, and both are on my list of 20 writing tests for communications pros.
  2. Can your op-ed land the one-two punch? This is the most basic test of whether an opinion article will work, and it's the first thing I look for when reading them. Protip: So do the editors to whom you are submitting.
  3. Op-eds take a range of formats in the social media age. Here is a quartet of options for social op-eds, and 8 more tools for the op-social world. They range from blogs to video, and everything in between. It's a good time to consider how to turn your social channels toward sharing your point of view.
  4. Sometimes all you need are some good examples, so here's why Warren Buffet's now-famous 'tax me' op-ed worked so well, from surprise to word choices.
  5. My 5 fixes for a lame opinion piece will let you save that op-ed that is never going to make it, and turn it into one you can place. And next time, use this list in advance, rather than as a rear-guard action.
Want to develop the op-ed writing expertise of your comms team or your expert spokespeople? I can design a workshop that gets them poised and ready. Email me at eloquentwoman AT gmail DOT com.

Don't get caught unprepared, speechless, or without a message, but do catch me on Twitter, on Google+, and on the don't get caught page on Facebook--all great places to add your comments to the discussion. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter, Speakers & Communicators, to make sure you don't miss a thing on my blogs and get the first news about new workshops and projects.

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