How to place that op-ed your CEO wants you to write

Want to establish your exec as a thought leader in a major publication? The competition’s fierce. Here are some ways to pull ahead of the pack.

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Perhaps you’ve been there. Your chief executive says, “Say, how about whipping out an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal?”

“Er, on what topic?” you ask.

“Oh, I don’t know. Something about the warp speed of change we’re facing in the industry, how we should embrace it and not fear it.”

Stop right there.

You know this, but your bigwig needs to hear it. If you want to land a piece in the Journal—or even The Canton Repository—start with a compelling argument. Op-ed page editors can tell you all about the panic-attack-inducing mush that clogs their inboxes every day.

Here’s how to stand out. The following tips apply equally to online publications such as Slate or The Huffington Post.

Apply the red-face test.

What gets your leader’s blood pressure up? What makes him or her growl, There oughta be a law! Journalism-including opinion writing-thrives on conflict, not stasis. If your poobah’s pulse doesn’t race when he or she discusses a topic, why should an editor’s?

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