Writing Op-Eds Vs. Being A Journalist’s Source

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When it comes to the print media, there’s more than one way to get your message out and to position yourself as an authority.

Some of our clients want to be the go-to expert for journalists who are in need of well-credentialed sources for their articles.

Others long to write opinion articles – or op-ed pieces, as they are commonly referred to – where they can more fully express their views on trends, breaking news or life in general.

Many want to do both!

So is one better than the other? Well, each has its advantages, so let’s take a look at that.

With an op-ed piece, you have the opportunity to give your complete point of view, as opposed to a reporter picking and choosing a few highlights from an interview with you. It’s definitely an option when it comes to positioning yourself as a thought leader in whatever field of endeavor you want to be viewed as an expert.

On the other hand, when you’re quoted in a news or feature article – especially with a highly respected publication – the readers recognize that the journalist trusted your expertise enough to turn to you as a source. You’re offering insight and maybe even giving your opinion, yes, but in this case you are getting the added bonus of an implied endorsement from that journalist, who essentially is saying to his or her readers that you’re someone who brings experience and knowledge to the topic under discussion.

Some people prefer the op-ed, perhaps because they assume there’s a certain distinction that comes with these bylined pieces. Plus, they feel they maintain a greater control over their message. Sure, whatever you write is subject to editing by someone at the publication, but that most likely will be confined to issues of clarity and the publication’s style. Your point of view will remain intact.

But as much as I treasure op-ed pieces and understand their allure, I think that trust value that comes with being quoted in a journalist’s article can’t be over emphasized.

Let’s take a deeper look at these two venues for print publicity:

  • Clarity is a key ingredient regardless. Whether you’re writing an op-ed or being quoted in someone else’s article, it’s important that your message is clear, and that you present it in an engaging way. Editors aren’t interested in vague meanderings for the op-ed page. At the same time, you won’t make the cut in a journalist’s article if what you have to say doesn’t add much to the conversation, or if another source said the same thing in a more appealing manner.
  • Be careful about being too extreme. When you write op-eds, the freedom you have to lay out your opinion can be intoxicating. But if your ultimate goal is to build your brand, you’ll want to steer clear of extreme political views that could alienate potential clients and customers. That’s a case where the op-ed could do you more harm than good.
  • How others will react. Both kinds of publicity should be shared on your website and through your social media. Certainly, your potential customers or clients will be impressed that your opinion appeared in print somewhere, but they will recognize it as just that – your opinion. On the other hand, if they see that a major publication chose to quote you in a news article, that will leave them with an even greater impression.

Now, don’t get me wrong. An op-ed piece has value, and whenever you get the chance to write one, I would urge you to grab it.

But I’m convinced there’s even greater value in that implicit endorsement you get when a journalist, working on deadline and in need of a voice of authority in your field, turns to you for your knowledge and experience.

Of course, that’s just my opinion.


P.S. If you’d like professional help getting coverage in the press, and being interviewed on radio and TV, give us a call. We’ve been providing this service to clients for 28 years. We also offer a comprehensive social media marketing program for select clients, where we do it all for you. If you’re interested in our help, please call us at 727-443-7115 Ext. 231. We’d love to hear from you!


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