PR Tips | If the biggest papers say no, don’t quit your pitchin’!

PR Tips | If the biggest papers say no, don’t quit your pitchin’!

Every writer would like to see his or her op-ed published in The Washington Post or The New York Times. But you never know if you’re pitching your piece on the same day that Bill Clinton is submitting one as well. It’s tough to beat out a former president — much less the scores of other writers vying for scarce editorial-page real estate.

So where do you go if the Post and the Times say no? You could simply pitch by circulation — the bigger the better. But to maximize the impact of your op-ed, a more strategic approach may be in order.

First off, ask yourself, “Who am I trying to convince?”

If you’re offering a solution for reforming the tax code, you’ll probably want to grab the ear of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. He probably reads The Washington Post — but he likely keeps up with his hometown paper, The Oregonian of Portland, as well. If you can convince his constituents that you’re right, then he’ll almost certainly be more inclined to consider your thoughts.

Another question to ask: “Who would find my op-ed most interesting?”

If you’re trying to stoke outrage over planned cuts to Medicare, papers read by large numbers of seniors — like The Tampa Tribune in Florida or the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which serves the grayest metropolitan area in the country — could offer the most direct route to your target audience.

The impact of an op-ed in D.C.’s or New York’s paper of record can be huge. But a hit in a publication that’s read by your target audience can make an even bigger splash.

Robby Schrum