Write Your Own Op-Ed
One way you can take action for your campaign is to write or recruit an advocate to write an op-ed for your local newspaper, magazine, blog, community, or school newsletter. Look for an advocate who is credible on the topic and well-known in your community to sign your op-ed, as they will likely draw in more readers for the publication. A recognized person in the community, a person with a strong personal story, or an expert in the issue area is a good place to start.
An op-ed is a written opinion editorial published in a local, regional, or national media outlet. Sometimes it’s a personal, emotional story—other times the facts are presented straightforward. Many people like to read op-eds because community ideas are important, and they can’t get those same opinions in objective journalism. When you write about your cause publicly, you’re spreading awareness to legislators, journalists, and members of your community, giving them the chance to learn more about the issue, form their own opinions about your cause, and ideally, take steps to get involved.
Before you get started on your own story, here are a few things to keep in mind as you begin to write:
- Your op-ed can be either emotional or rational. It all depends on the story you want to tell. The sample emotional op-ed below is an example of a soft-sell. It encourages readers to care about what the author cares about and uses personal touches to emphasize why this is important to the signer. A hard-sell op-ed presses the urgency of the issue and uses words like, “can’t,” “refuse,” “never,” and “now.”
- A rational introduction often includes statistics and logical explanations for why your issue is important. An example sentence for that kind of piece might sound like this: “Many young people in America struggle to stay healthy. Early childcare standards can set healthy habits early, helping to decrease obesity.”
- A strong headline is concise, gives the readers a preview of what you’re going to say, and also makes them curious enough to read it.
- You can also choose an influential signer; someone who is well known in your community and credible on the topic, like a doctor, researcher, or politician, and who can help you gain attention or earn a placement in a high-profile publication. Make sure to include the signer’s contact information—name, title, organization (if needed), e-mail, and phone number—in case the editors want to contact you/the signer.
Do you think your community is ready to learn more in an op-ed? Let’s get started by breaking down the sample emotional op-ed below.
Ex. Something solid to build upon and partner in
Ex. Sharon Brown
I spent a recent Saturday at the park and struck up an interesting conversation with parents around me. Here’s a glimpse…
We’re looking to put our little one in an early childcare center, but I don’t know what requirements we should look for!
Our little guy has been in childcare for a while, and I don’t know if the snacks and active time are best for him.
It’s important to make your key points early and often so that your reader understands why this is meaningful for them.
Sound familiar? I found myself asking the same questions when I first put my children in childcare. I worried that they were getting too much screen time and unhealthy snacks. When our youngest went to daycare, we must have compared a hundred criteria—wondering what was important and best for our little boy. And I didn’t know where to look for answers to what the best environment is for my kid. As parents, we will always want what’s best for our children. And with so many of our children in early care and education settings, during such a key development period, we should be focused on coming together to determine what is best for them in that setting.
Where you can, be sure to include your state, town, county, or the specific community that you want to reach.
I’ve had many conversations with other parents, but I’ve also started to research what’s going to give my kids the best chance for healthy growth in their childcare centers. Here’s what I see: that childcare providers are asking the same questions, eager to set the children in [STATE] up for success, and that there is a need for base standards that we can all build upon.
A base standard—defining how much active and screen time is best, as well as ideal nutritional guidelines and encouraging physical activity—frees the parents and caretakers up to partner in and build upon an environment that fosters healthy development. It allows experts to outline some key requirements that ensure every child in [STATE] can receive the same care, regardless of socio-economic status. It can alleviate some of the many questions and worries we parents have.
As we work with care providers across [STATE] to provide healthy environments for our kids, we need our government leaders to partner with us, too. Without these standards, we are alone to wrestle with questions, but—more importantly—our kids are left without an assurance of quality care.
So what’s our role? I think the power lies in sharing stories, thoughts, and questions—from both the caretaker and parent perspective—with our leaders, showing them how a standard gives our kids the chance they deserve. We must ensure our children have Building Blocks for a Healthy Life™, showing [STATE] that a strong partnership around a core standard will ensure healthy development for future generations.
Remember to include a link at the end of your piece so that your readers know how to join your movement or create a campaign of their own.
For next steps and to learn more, check out [LINK TO ACTION].
Keep your op-ed to 500 words max so that your important points aren’t cut during the editing process.
Word Count: 420 Words