Writing a great opinion piece to get picked up by the press
At PRLab we are defenders of thoughtful opinions and we take care to share them when they add value. In this article, we will explain what an opinion piece is, how to write one well and how it can be beneficial for your brand, and status as a thought leader.
What is an opinion piece?
When should you write one?
We all have something to say, but to gain the maximum benefit from voicing your opinions you have to express them at the right time. The right moment could be any time when you have something innovative to say on a subject or an interesting view on a topic that will develop a conversation.
If there is something that you disagree with in your industry or something that you think needs to be improved upon, changed, or even celebrated, voicing your opinion on that is also an acceptable time.
The chief way to gauge when it is appropriate to write an opinion piece, however, is whether or not your opinion is on a topic that is relevant to the discourse of your community at that time.
How to write an opinion piece
An opinion piece should be a brief and to the point, usually under 750 words. In our experience, an opinion piece cannot be written by just anyone. You should be an expert on the topic being written about. This is usually done by experts in certain fields, like an epidemiologist writing on diseases, but also for leaders and CEOs of companies in certain industries. When these leaders take the time to convey an opinion, they should do it in a persuasive and lively manner, in spite of how brief the pieces tend to be.
An opinion piece should be emphatic and written in an active voice so that it is compelling to the readership. It must provide clear insight and information to the topic being discussed, and take a clear stand on a certain aspect of that topic. It is an opinion after all. It should be timely and reflect a current hot button issue, in that way it is genuinely relevant and not just another lost thought. When you write one the audience must be considered as well, so that you can really hone in on the message that you want to share. And, most importantly your piece should be buttressed by facts and data to defend your case.
Benefits of a great opinion piece
Once you have an opinion piece picked up by the press it validates your opinion in a way that is impossible if you had published the same piece yourself, or from your company’s blog. That is because it can show that a publication tacitly approves of the message you are trying to convey. This gives you and your views more standing and authority over the topic or field under discussion.
That is one of the main thrusts for writing an opinion piece. It gives you a box to speak from that you normally would not have had on your own. By writing one, you are effectively staking a claim to a certain aspect of a certain issue or topic. An opinion piece magnifies your voice in such a way that it is readily and easily heard. It is not lost in translation. It is a platform for you to continue to build from and use. Once your opinion is out and established there will inevitably be counter-arguments. This is a benefit as well if used correctly, as it will enable you to defend yourself and once again provide the data to support your opinion, which will help you build traction as a thought leader in your industry or field.
When you pitch an opinion piece to the relevant trade media you will also be associated with the right connections to the key players in your industry and field. This will enhance your credibility in the industry but also grow your network.
If you are a CEO or an expert in a field, you are leveraging that position of yours to establish further expertise and credibility. CEO’s creating more credibility for themselves inadvertently share that credibility with their brand and company. With more respect from the audience and readers, who might also be customers, the better the company will do in its sales and services.
Opinion pieces are not to be crafted lightly. If you do not take the time to adequately conduct the right research to defend your views, or if you do not take the care to compose it in a persuasive, articulate and passionate manner, you will not reap any benefits from the exercise. In fact, you might diminish the standing of yourself, your company and brand. You will be seen as the antithesis of a thought leader.
You do not want that to be the case. But, take heart, opinion pieces are just one of the many ways to establish yourself as a thought leader.
If you would like to learn about the other ways to establish thought leadership, check out our blog article Why is it important to practice thought leadership as a startup or scale-up?.