April 14, 2021

More Than You Wanted to Know About Op-ed Length

How long should an op-ed be? Well, that depends. I’ve looked at close to ten how-to guides for op-eds, all written by respected PR pros over the past 25 years. The conventional wisdom varies a bit: Under 700 or 800 words, most say. Many zero in on a “sweet spot” of 600 to 750 words. However, my analysis of 200 opinion pieces by college presidents tells a somewhat different, and more nuanced, story. In looking at the op-eds from the first half of 2014, I did a word count on those that I had put in the database and could access the full text for such a count. (I did exclude one extreme outlier – a 2,500-word New Yorker piece.) Here’s a graph of all 200: Note the long, gentle curve from about 300 words to 1,800 words, showing a broad distribution of op-ed lengths. Conventional wisdom is, in fact, somewhat right: that 600-750 word “sweet spot” does lie near the middle of the graph, and accounts for over a quarter of the op-eds studied. However, almost as many are … [Read more...]

Obama’s College Rating System: Love It? Hate It? Now’s the Time to Speak Up.

If you do higher education related op-eds, there’s probably not a hotter topic for you to address right now than this one. The long-awaited – and long-feared by many – federal college rating system could become a reality in the next few months. Word is that the Department of Education is planning to release a draft of the federal rating concept this fall and a final version early next year, in time for the system to be in place for the 2015-16 academic year. Colleges’ ratings ultimately would be used as a factor in awarding some types of federal student aid. My guess is that – just as with immigration reform – the President will not want to complicate the mid-term election dynamics with an issue as divisive as the college rating system. That could mean the Department won’t release anything until after November 4, but then well may by early January so that a progress report can be included in the 2015 State of the Union address (tentatively January 20). If I’m … [Read more...]

Forbes: Hidden Treasure for Op-eds

In months of exploring opinion pieces by college presidents, I discovered some hidden gold, both in messages and media outlets.  However, my candidate for the most underappreciated and potentially valuable placement venue is Forbes magazine online.  Only a very few college PR people and their presidents have discovered this prime outlet. For a look at the demographics of the Forbes site, download the 2014 media kit for advertisers, a 22-page PDF loaded with stats.  In a nutshell, Forbes digital claims to now reach 26 million unique visitors a month with an average household income of more than $600,000 a year.  Visitors to the site have an average age of @45, and are skewed heavily (@65 to 35 percent) toward males.  Forbes also claims the site attracts more decisionmakers and influencers than the Wall Street Journal, CNNMoney, Businessweek, Bloomberg, and Economist sites. Now deep into serving as a leadership forum, the site features only a handful of college presidents as … [Read more...]