Using Editorial Columnists as Part of Your PR Campaign

Throughout written history, newspaper editorial writers have been some of the most insightful, incisive, and unusual political observers in the United States. It was Ben Franklin and others like him, after all, who wrote the famed   columns that led to the Revolutionary War . Other opinion writers, such as  Francis Church, author of “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus,” have captured the hearts of Americans for over a hundred years .  Print editorial writers have a powerful voice , and if a media relations professional can build a friendship with one, he or she can often benefit from an opinion columnist’s influence .

Editorials , not to be mistaken for letters to the editor, which are written by members of the public to the publication, are among the most viewed sections of a newspaper . Editorial columns are  authored by the publication’s editorial staff , and declare the newspaper’s official  opinion on certain topics.  For a local newspaper , this may mean taking a position on a proposed new law, while for a national paper, this may mean taking a stance in a nationwide political race .  Essentially, unlike most journalism that will appear in a newspaper , editorial columns are universally opinionated and biased. For public relations pros , it can be a gift to find an editorial columnist who agrees with their stance on a hot topic or issue .

The best path to persuading an editorial  columnist to adopt your company or industry’s cause is to approach them in a timely way . Most editorial  writers  will focus on stories that are current and of journalistic value . They will seldom opine about your non-profit’s good work saving abandoned kittens , for example, unless a new study or news item just focused on the very same thing . So when a cause  near and dear to the heart of your industry is in the news, make hay while the sun shines and get in touch with  opinion writers . Often,  opinion writers  have certain issues or causes that they care deeply about. If you can tie your cause to theirs, you can often influence them to publish your position in their upcoming editorials.

How should a media relations pro approach a newspaperopinionwriter? In much the same way he or should would approach a journalist when they distribute a press release – with factual information and a gripping story. But, instead of submitting a press release as you would for news items, send a letter to the opinion columnist with some information and background detailing why your topic would make for a  fantastic opinion piece .  Even if the  opinion columnist does not end up writing about your exact topic suggestion , he or she will now know that you are a  potential resource  when it comes to that niche , and may even request your input as an expert source for a slightly different piece or an editorial on down the line . For that reason, you should develop your relationship with an editorial columnist contact much as you do the same with other reporters .

Finally, remember that an editorial columnist, though his or her  written works may sound biased, has the same obligation as any member of the news media to maintain objectivity. Thank you gifts or event invites may be seen as an attempt to alter that neutrality , so think long and hard about how you express gratitude toward an opinion columnist for publicizing your cause or industry . A traditional, handwritten thank-you note is appreciated .

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab your free copy of the Big Press Release Book – Press Releases for Every Occasion and Industry here: http://www.ereleases.com/insider/bigbook.html

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Keyword Research Pro 2.0 will operate on PCs and Macs.

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