Institutional Communications has developed the following best practices to help in formulating op-eds that media outlets may accept for publication.
Institutional Communications works frequently with media outlets to tell the University’s story through a variety of formats. An op-ed is one outlet that allows the institution to offer a unique perspective on a specific topic. A successful op-ed piece will reach large audiences, change minds and potentially reshape public policy, while also providing an opportunity to earn recognition for the University.
To submit an op-ed or discuss an idea, please contact Institutional Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is an Op-Ed?
An op-ed, abbreviated from “opposite the editorial page,” is traditionally a newspaper article that expresses the opinion of a named writer who is not affiliated with the newspaper’s editorial board. Op-eds differ from editorials, which are opinion pieces published by members of the media outlet’s editorial board, and letters to the editor, which are submitted by readers.
Who should write Op-Eds?
Op-eds are typically authored by cabinet members or deans with the exception of other faculty or staff who write about topics specific to their expertise. The Institutional Communications team edits op-eds, receives approval from the president and pitches them to media outlets.
Below are examples of op-eds published by media outlets that offer a unique perspective on a specific topic and provide recognition for the University.
- Saunders: From university to community (written by Dr. Martha Saunders, UWF president)
- Saunders: Major gift transforms UWF and our community (written by Dr. Martha Saunders, UWF president)
- Saunders: It’s 2017. Let’s make waves, Argos (written by Dr. Martha Saunders, UWF president)
- UWF keeps writing relevant (written by Dr. William Crawley, dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies)
- UWF focused on STEM (written by Dr. Michael Huggins, dean of the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering)
- Mentors, meet your match at UWF (written by Dr. Tim O’Keefe, dean of the College of Business)
- UWF social work striving to build community capacity (written by Dr. William Crawley, dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies)
- UWF partnering to advance cybersecurity (written by Dr. Eman El-Sheikh, director of the Center for Cybersecurity)
Below are best practices to utilize when developing op-eds that media outlets may accept for publication.
Finding a Newsworthy Topic
To increase the chances of your op-ed being published, ensure your piece fits at least one of seven newsworthy qualities.
Is your viewpoint unique? Understand the ongoing conversation about the topic, especially by the media outlet to which you consider submitting the op-ed. If your opinion or main argument has already been discussed and will not progress the conversation, explore another topic.
Know the Requirements
Media outlets request various requirements for op-eds, such as word counts. Before writing a piece, contact Institutional Communications to determine the specific requirements for that outlet.
Make a Single Point
What do you want the reader to think or do after reading the article? State the central thesis of your op-ed in one sentence near the beginning of the article. If you address a problem, offer a solution. Be clear and concise.
Keep it Simple
Writing for a media outlet requires a different language than the classroom or lab. Use an active, informal voice and avoid jargon. Make sure the casual reader will understand.
Support your opinion with numbers. Graphs and other visuals aid understanding. Put your story into a compelling context to improve its impact. If your viewpoint is supported by strong data and your writing is direct and relatable, you will gain respect with many readers and, in doing so, strengthen the University’s position as a thought leader in our region.