Webcontent – what does your small business actually need? (Op - Eds)
Yesterday’s billboards are today’s websites. The ads our parent’s generation used to flip through at the back of magazines in the doctor’s offices are today’s pop ups, app push ins, and social content. While there are many still using print media and the voices of the radio deejays still continue to ride the airwaves, most content today is web-based – so, how on earth are we supposed to decide exactly what our businesses need?
Jump down the rabbit hole of all things web content as we take a journey through the annals of the internet. In this series we’ll chase the details of OPED stories, white papers, infographics, blogs, and websites and of course, try to figure out when to employ the experts and when to change hats and do it in house. Just the other day it felt like the web-world stood still when Facebook, Instagram, and What’s App were simultaneously down for hours. Whether it was due to Zuckerberg, Mercury in Retrograde, or some glitch in a system that we still don’t officially understand – it doesn’t matter; it did however, show us yet again the mega power of the internet and the weight with which we place all things web. Ready to traverse it all – let’s see where this adventure takes us.
What’s an OPED?
Years ago print opinions were couched in letters to the editor. Today, while letters to the editor still exist, there are other opinion pieces, coined Op - Eds that are a bit of a different animal. Often coming from authors not affiliated with the place of publication, these pieces aim to strike a cord, provide thought, and sometimes truly give the complete opposite opinion of the actual paper itself. Reflecting opinions of a person or larger group, these Op - Eds have particular characteristics that put them in a category all their own. Every Op - Ed has the following: a hook (or, in journalism-speak, lede) that captures the reader's attention, evidence that backs up said opinions, and a call to action to give the reader a plan for what comes next. These less than 1000 word pieces are strongly worded, thought pieces that offer another way to look at things.
When to use one?
Traditionally, the Op - Ed is printed opposite an editorial or, in today’s world of web-based everything, it pops up in an eye-catching spot. Written by a subject matter expert or notable individual, these opinion pieces encourage, nudge, push, illuminate, persuade, and provide insight into a significant topic that is oftentimes trending in the news cycle. According to The New York Times, ‘the objective is...to afford greater opportunity for exploration of issues and presentation of new insights and new ideas by writers and thinkers who have no institutional connection with The Times and whose views will very frequently be completely divergent from our own’. Consider the friend you call when you don’t want a sugar coated viewpoint - you know, the one who always tells it like it is - she’s the one who keeps you honest. Op - Eds are designed to do the same.
Write it yourself or hire an expert?
In the world of media, Op - Eds are often written by outsiders, freelancers, or someone not affiliated with the publication. In the world of small business, it’s completely up to you. If you’ve got those writing chops and want to give it a whirl, go for it - but, if that’s not your forte, expand the search and get thee to an expert. Many times, ‘a freelancer will...be used as a ghostwriter - writing using someone else’s byline. Additionally, public relations firms often write these articles, in attempts to forward an agenda’. As the best influential Op - Eds are straight and to the point with only a short space to craft and hone your convincing story, while the business owners might make a few tweaks along the way, it’s the architect of the written word who can truly drive the point home and often a public relations team that can find the perfect spot to place the story.
An Op - Ed is another way to get your opinion, wisdom, strengths, and calls to action out there into the minds of your audience. Choose your spot, craft the message, and send it out to your target readers. ‘Op - Ed articles are meant to push readers into considering points of view just outside their comfort zone’. This indirect approach allows for an organized argument, an intriguing tone, and leaves readers with something to think about. Like every good tour ends in a gift shop - every good Op - Ed ends in a call to action. You’ve hooked the reader, supported your claims with significant evidence, and left them with a rallying cry to go forth into the world and act. Those pivotal pieces may garner you extra eyeballs, new clients, and in the end elevate your bottom line.