Founded in 1851, The New York Times (NYT) is considered one of the leading newspapers in the world.
Winning 125 Pulitzer Prize awards for excellence in journalism, Yale University noted that the NYT has earned itself a “worldwide reputation of thoroughness.” Although no easy feat, securing coverage on behalf of a client in the NYT is any PR pro’s dream come true. A meaningful way to do this is to submit an Op-Ed.
An Op-Ed is an essay that runs on the opposite side of the editorial page in a newspaper. Written by anyone from experts to everyday people, the Op-Ed section often gives readers fresh perspectives on current events and can solidify your client’s position as a thought leader. To give your opinion piece the best chance of being published, here are some tips on how Op-Ed editors at The New York Times like to be pitched:
Submission guidelines and process
As described by Trish Hall, the former op-ed and Sunday Review editor, The New York Times accepts opinion articles on any topic, for the Op-Ed page (Monday through Saturday), the Sunday Review, Opinionator and other online series, and The International New York Times.
It looks for submissions that run from 400 to 1,200 words and that are submitted exclusively. It actively seeks pieces reacting to news of the world, and writers are encouraged to submit pieces relating to news events as quick as possible.
The New York Times encourages authors to write in their own voice. Writing to “seem smart” often has the opposite effect, and it’s best to focus in detail on something specific from a unique perspective. For example, if you want to write about the general problem of incarceration in the United States, the odds are that it will seem too familiar. However, if you are a prisoner in Washington and you have just gone on a hunger strike and want to talk about it—that is an exciting read. Submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NYT’s news assistants read the Op-Ed submissions. They pull out everything that seems to have potential and send those pieces to several editors for review. If those editors find something interesting, they send it to an internal group that is responsible for editing the pieces on the pages in all the editions.
These editors have daily meetings to discuss the news, ideas, and which writers might be best suited to which subjects. Although no article is guaranteed publication, once accepted, the NYT will do everything it can to make sure the piece runs on one of its platforms. This process could take months because The Times will wait to publish the article for what seems like the moment when the greatest number of readers are likely to find a piece relevant and interesting.
If the article is accepted, the author will receive a contract giving NYT exclusive publishing rights. Additionally, the contract lays out some of the author’s responsibilities, the most important ones having to do with originality and truthfulness. NYT requests that the author discloses anything that might be seen as a conflict of interest, financial or otherwise. It also needs all of the material that supports the facts in the story in order to fact check, so writers should be prepared to disclose all of this information.
Once the contract is signed, an editor will work with the author to make the piece acceptable to both parties. If the piece has the start of a fascinating idea but is jumbled and not well-thought out, it will probably need rounds of revision. If this is the case, do not be discouraged. The goal of the editing process is to make the author’s thinking and writing as clear and orderly as possible. As a rule, the writer will not get to choose the headline or the art that goes with the piece.
Because the number of submissions is so large, the NYT unfortunately has to pass on much material of value and interest. If there is no reply within three business days, assume that The Times will not be able to use your article.
To gain some inspiration, follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion) , and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter . be a huge win and I hope that these guidelines will get you one step closer!
Hattie Schafhausen is a former Communiqué PR intern who recently graduated from University of Washington with a degree in Communication and Media Studies. A version of this article originally appeared on the Communiqué PR blog.