Op-ed writing is a mix of art and science. As with any form of writing, the art comes with practice — and lots of it. The science, on the other hand, can be learned. Here are a few of the basics.
First, virtually all op-eds are 800 words or less. Seven hundred words is even better. You can’t solve all the world’s problems in 700-800 words — but that’s all most newspapers have space for. Further, many readers may not make it through many more words than 800.
Second, every op-ed should start off with an interesting lede. Newspapers are in the business of, well, news, so a timely opener to your piece — one that positions it within the context of what’s going on in the news world — is usually best.… READ MORE
Last week, I was in Napa Valley at the Wine Writers Symposium, an annual gathering of some of the nation’s top wine writers.
While there, I spoke to attendees about how to write better pitches and get their stories placed. I was paired with Alison Clare Steingold, a senior editor at C Magazine. Drawing on my experience at Keybridge Communications and as a wine writer, I also coached attendees on query writing in a series of one-on-one sessions.
The pitching process changes depending on your goals, of course. Op-Eds, for example, are almost always written before they’re pitched. With magazine articles, writers should pitch editors before they put pen to paper. These lessons also work for conventional PR – there’s no better way to get a reporter interested in your story than teeing it up for her.… READ MORE
Everyone uses JPG, GIF and PNG files for photos and graphics. But if you’re anything like me, you probably treat them indiscriminately. Well, apparently, there’s a real difference. Having been recently enlightened by our web folks, I’ve decided to pass my newfound knowledge along. Here’s a quick primer on the difference between these common file types.
JPGs are best for complex graphics and photographs. JPGs use a lossy compression technique. I.e., as the file is compressed, the image loses some of its data. Exactly how much data is lost depends on the amount of compression. The JPG format isn’t ideal for text-heavy pictures or simple drawings that don’t have the depth to survive the lossy compression. Such images tend to lose their sharpness and clarity when converted to JPG.… READ MORE
What’s the difference between grammar and style? It’s similar to the difference between a dictate and a suggestion — when a copy editor marks a change because it’s grammatically incorrect, you really should make the change. Style is more subjective, but for the best copy possible, adhering to consistent style is important.
People often treat copy editors as human dictionaries or style books and approach them with questions like “Which is right, e-mail or email?” The answer is that neither is wrong because this is a matter of style, not grammar. However, most publications follow one style guide (and magazines and newspapers usually follow the Associated Press Stylebook, or AP style), and that resource likely has a preference.… READ MORE
This February, two larger-than-life sports events will engage fans around the world. Both the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics will showcase incredible athletics, but for many the appeal isn’t the competition itself.
Indeed, a full 78 percent of Americans look forward to the commercials played during the Super Bowl more than the game itself, according to a new study by ad agency Venables Bell & Partners. That’s up from 59 percent in 2011.
“This is the strongest Super Bowl market that we have ever seen,” says Toby Byrne, president of advertising sales at Fox. This year, 30-seconds of space on the broadcast cost $4 million and slots sold out over a month ago.
And with the Winter Olympics opening just four days later, NBC is also jostling for sponsors. So far, the proximity hasn’t deterred Olympic advertising in the least — ad sales for the 18-day event have already exceeded $800 million.… READ MORE
When was the last time you heard about a musician whose album released without a peep? No album promotion in interviews, singles, concerts, music videos, or Saturday Night Live hosting gigs. Well, artist Beyonce did just that when she defied all conventional wisdom by not doing a shred of publicity prior to her self-titled album launch last month.
There was no crescendo, no drumming up of anticipation and excitement — a total sneak attack. Beyonce worked on the album secretly for about a year before releasing it exclusively to iTunes. She made countless appearances during that time but never led on to the fact that she was recording a new album that fans would kill to know about. She had the confidence that it would be clamored over, whether people knew about it 6 months in advance or not.
So how’d the PR plan pan out? Apple says it sold 828,773 copies of the album in three days. And it’s No.1 on Billboard charts for the third week in a row, which is the longest run for any album since April. … READ MORE