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Using op-eds to make your case for home fire sprinklers


An op-ed is an opinion piece, written by members of the public, usually run toward the back of a newspaper's "A" section. They are an important tool for making your case to the community. Below, ten tips* on how to write an effective op-ed for your local newspaper.

1. Before writing, find a topic and develop a point-of-view. A contrary point-of-view or unique angle is okay. Don't be scared of being provocative or controversial.

2. Highlight the issue's relevance: why is it newsworthy?

3. Discuss only one issue, and make no more than three points about that issue.

4. Use short sentences and paragraphs. Make sure your op-ed could be understood by a 12-year-old.

5. Provide solutions.

6. Close strong, perhaps by summarizing your argument.

7. Don't be afraid to be personal. If you have a personal experience with the topic, say so.

8. Use an anecdote. Stories of actual people help abstract topics come to life.

9. Localize. Your op-ed should be relevant to the local area.

10. Familiarize yourself with the news organizations' rules. Many have information about writing op-eds, including word count, on their websites. If not, call and ask to speak with the opinion editor.

* Source: Brad Phillips, president of Phillips Media Relations, specializing in media and presentation training for nonprofit organizations. Materials developed for The Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, the largest national non-profit serving the burn survivor community.