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Op-eds, as I have previously posted, are a valuable part of public relations and media relations strategies. This is because of the media coverage they can generate and the positive positioning, through thought leadership, they generate. An additional, and extremely valuable, characteristic of the op-ed is that its topic, and the content that is generated as part the op-ed scoping process, can also be used to generate more than a single media placement.

The thought leadership and op-ed (opinion piece) scoping process will always generate more information than can be contained within a single opinion piece. Two things can occur with this information:

  • It can serve as the basis for another opinion piece
  • It can be used as complementary information to support an issues-based campaign, aimed at generating multiple media placements, that ‘feeds’ off the initial single opinion piece placement and uses core information from that op-ed.

The key here is, as always, providing some fresh content customised to the needs of targeted media outlets. Similarly, it may be possible that the additional content not used in the initial opinion piece is strong enough to do a fairly similar pitch across different media.

It is always possible that stats/insights from overseas can be morphed into your program. This can, especially with some creative thinking and value-adding, provide a valuable dimension to the media program. This is the approach Deloitte, a multi-national professional services consulting, take – as can be seen from comments in my initial post on thought leadership and op-ed campaigns post.

Aspects to bear in mind if this methodology is applied include:

  • Giving the op-ed exclusive to one outlet means they are, strategically, the most appropriate media outlet to  target (bearing in mind you may want to share the op-ed ‘goodies’ around over time)
  • When it comes to mainstream media, you will only be able to place the op-ed in one outlet. That’s it. The exception being if one media organisation owns a variety of media outlets of relatively state-specific nature. For instance, in Australia that means you can potentially generate multiple placement of the one op-ed in The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Brisbane Times. But be upfront with the editors at all times. The reality is that there is competition for quality content internally, as well
  • It can be a good way to generate extra coverage from a relatively similar ‘pot’ of IP
  • Be careful of the ROI. Applying this approach often means the non-op-ed content is of lower quality than the op-ed content. Try not to let this happen, but is inevitable in some cases. If this is the case, be careful of over-promising results to clients/employers as they may not come through – perhaps more importantly, you don’t want to diminish the thought leadership potency of your work by promulgating 2nd rate content or ‘thoughts’
  • The timing/coordination of how the campaign is rolled out important – the op-ed and issues-based campaign need to work in concert with each other
  • Liaise with the non op-ed media before the op-ed goes to print, and facilitate timely coverage by all means, but make sure there is no chance for your material to be printed/utilised before the op-ed hits the streets. You know the ramifications if this doesn’t occur – bad blood with media!

Leveraging the thought leadership

Another dimension of these approaches is that once you have confirmed an op-ed is being placed in a print or online media outlet (mostly relevant to mainstream metro media like The Australian), you can use the content to pitch to radio or even TV. You can do this the day before the story goes live or you can do it early in the morning of publication.

Radio producers always skim the newspapers (and their online variations these days) to see if there is anything they can explore further on their shows. Do them a favour, make it easy for them to fill up their shows with interesting content that will value-add to the original op-ed. Nice work if you can achieve it!

[I’ll talk more about multiple cross-industry placements of op-eds (of utility in a B2B context) in a future post.]

So, what are your thoughts on information in this post? Have you applied any of these approaches? How did they go? What have I missed out on that is crucial in undertaking these approaches?

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