Dos and don’ts of pitching to the opinion pages

Opinion page editors explain how to grab their attention and improve the odds of landing in this popular section of the newspaper.

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Still, many public relations professionals fail to pitch editorial boards properly–or even at all.

The Publicity Club of Chicago on Wednesday brought together several opinion page editors and board members in the Chicago area for a panel that offered advice on the dos and don’ts of pitching one of the most popular sections in the newspaper. The group estimated that fewer than 1 percent of submitted op-ed pieces make the cut. Here’s how you can improve your chances:

Do your research, just as you would before pitching a reporter. “Understand what our goals are,” said Jim Slusher, assistant managing editor for opinion at suburban Chicago’s Daily Herald. McNamee agreed, saying, “What works with a pitch is knowing your publication.”

Send an email. McNamee says that an email lets him respond in his own time, whereas a phone call can be distracting. “It starts with the subject line.”

Try to set up a meeting with the editorial board. Even if the board doesn’t select your topic or viewpoint now, board members might call on your organization if they do a piece later on.

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