Operational definitions: What are op-eds and articles?

August 8, 2022

Did you ever violate the UCMJ while conducting an AAR about OpSec?

The military is famous for its bewildering acronyms. Indecipherable to outsiders, they create enormous time efficiencies during briefings, in written communication, and on the battlefield. And everyone, from commanders to the lowest-ranking private, knows what the terms mean, because you can’t waste time in war.

While most businesses don’t engage in armed combat, knowing terminology is critical to streamlining processes and creating greater efficiency. To this end, here are a few of the tools, definitions, and tactics which are critical to successful public relations.

Press Releases

Press releases are a cheat code for engaging the press in a polished manner. These short to medium announcements are integral to any company’s “best practices” regardless of size or resources.

Press releases include your message and background so that journalists and other gatekeepers can include them in coverage. However, they should be written in a way which helps gatekeepers meet deadlines and have interesting stories. Be sure to have your PR team lead follow up with the outlets to ensure delivery, build relationships, and increase the chances of coverage.

Op-Eds

Op-eds put your unadulterated voice in the press. You control the content, except for changes made by an editor prior to publication. By sharing expertise, experience, and knowledge, op-eds can help establish your credentials as a thought leader in your industry. You may be able to influence perspectives within your industry, change how the industry views your organization, or even change how the public sees your industry.

Most op-eds are 550 to 800 words long; all of them should be crafted with two audiences in mind: the editor who will approve or deny placement of your piece, and the end readers you are trying to reach and influence.

Articles

Articles are the standard news stories we read every day, and represent some of the most difficult coverage to secure. They are written by reporters who are inundated with press releases and statements from people just like you. Being included often builds significant trust with your target audiences because inclusion means what you offered was more valuable than what everyone else did.

You can’t control article content. You can, however, help frame it with your message, narrative, and background information. Make sure your team builds relationships with reporters and their editors so that you can send the best content at the right time.

Appearances

An appearance in a segment is the radio, podcast, or television equivalent of a newspaper article. Usually, your engagement with the outlet will take place in the form of an interview. Live interviews can be fun, if stressful; recorded interviews are more relaxing, but will often undergo editing before being aired.

Appearances may be the rarest form of media. They are simply very popular but have few available slots. Any company spokespeople should be given message and media training so that your message is shared most effectively.

Being prepared uses your time wisely

Like a military assault, outsiders don’t really care about your terminology; they just see the effect. It’s very important for your PR team to develop best practices and operational definitions to use your time and other resources as wisely as possible. This will ensure that your company’s next big announcement goes smoothly, and you aren’t scrambling to tie up loose ends in the heat of battle of business.

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