What’s my endgame with this piece?
An op-ed pieceDELIVERABLE #4: OP-ED (plus completed Writing Blueprint)
Purpose: You will develop and write an op-ed piece that will be submitted to The Wall Street Journal. Although the initial version of this deliverable is considered
your first draft, it should be the product of your best abilities. You, the assistant account executive, should feel confident sending this to your direct boss (me)
and your client contact for review. You must also complete and submit a Writing Blueprint.
The Set-Up: Imagine once again that you are still an assistant account executive at ACME Public Relations. As you may remember, your client, the Commission on Public
Relations Education (see HYPERLINK “http://www.commpred.org” http://www.commpred.org), has recently been on a major public relations push related to its funding of a
major study about the state of writing skills in the public relations industry. Thus far, you’ve worked up a backgrounder/position paper and a news release for a media
NOTE: Remember, the conceit is that CPRE funded the Cole et al. study, which it actually did not. We are also assuming that the Cole et al. study has just been
released, which is not the case since its publication date is 2009 and it’s 2016 now.
While engaging in your routine environmental scanning duties for this client, you came across an advertorial published in a special advertising section on The Wall
Street Journal’s website. (See it online at HYPERLINK “http://online.wsj.com/ad/article/mathscience-rising” http://online.wsj.com/ad/article/mathscience-rising. It ran
on May 18, 2009, so you’ll have to fudge its timing, too.) This advertorial, by Joe Mullich, “Rising to the Challenge: America’s Math and Science Curriculum is Key to
Future Competiveness,” discusses Intel’s $120 million pledge over the next decade to stimulate young peoples’ interest in math and science. This advertorial is found
in your Weeks 8/9 course folder.
Sidebar from the Instructor
The Mullich advertorial was published in a special advertising section on The Wall Street Journal’s website. So it’s not an earned media op-ed; it’s a paid editorial,
also known as an advertorial (a portmanteau – the combination of two words’ sounds and meanings — of “advertising” and “editorial”).
Also, Exxon-Mobil is among the most well-known and frequent corporate users of advertorials. Google “Exxon Mobil advertorials” to check them (and their critics) out.
CPRE obviously has a stake in educational issues, given its involvement with the Cole et al. study that found the writing skills of recent entrants into the PR
industry (in other words, recent college graduates) to be lacking. Plus…
Let’s add another layer of conceit to the course…
Assume the following is true (it is not): CPRE has recently partnered with the College Board ( HYPERLINK “http://www.collegeboard.org/” http://www.collegeboard.org/,
which added a writing portion to its SAT exams in 2005 and then removed it in 2014 and is the parent of the National Commission on Writing); and the International
Association of Business Communicators ( HYPERLINK “http://www.iabc.com” http://www.iabc.com). These three organizations have joined together on a new initiative to get
corporate America involved in stimulating writing education. The American Association of Publishers (see HYPERLINK “http://www.publishers.org/”
http://www.publishers.org/, an industry trade association for over 300 publishing companies) has pledged $25 million over the next decade.
As any strategically minded PR professional worth their salt would, you see the puzzle pieces coming together. Eureka! The lightbulb goes on over your head! The
Mullich article in the Journal gives the CPRE-CB-IABC partnership a perfect opening to talk about its own initiative in the Journal! You pitch your boss on the idea of
writing and pitching an op-ed to the Journal. Your boss and CPRE love the idea. Now it’s up to you to execute this tactic.
Execution of tasks: Between the copious lecture notes, readings and the Week 8 discussion, you should be more than ready to tackle this op-ed.
Read the Mullich piece. It’s in the Weeks 8/9 course folder.
Think about what you want to say in the op-ed:
For content, try these sources:
Your Summary of Scholarly Article (aka Deliverable #1)
National Writing Project ( HYPERLINK “http://www.nwp.org” http://www.nwp.org)
National Commission on Writing ( HYPERLINK “http://www.host-collegeboard.com/advocacy/writing/” http://www.host-collegeboard.com/advocacy/writing/)
Know your audience/media outlet: Visit HYPERLINK “http://online.wsj.com/home-page” http://online.wsj.com/home-page
Your op-ed should discuss this initiative within a context of “we can’t leave writing education behind in America’s quest to excel in math and science education.”
You want to respond to (or springboard from) the Mullich piece to make your point that writing education deserves attention as well.
Think about the kinds of appeals or persuasive strategies you’ll employ.
Think about what you want the op-ed to accomplish:
Persuade readers that the state of writing and writing education in America is worthy of attention.
Get readers (think about who reads the Journal) to consider pledging to the initiative without overtly asking them to do so.
Remember, U.S. businesses lose nearly $3 billion annually due to poor workplace writing (see HYPERLINK “http://www.host-collegeboard.com/advocacy/writing/” National
Commission on Writing, 2004, found in the Week 1 course folder). This is a large amount of money, but ask yourself if it is big bucks within the context of the overall
U.S. economy. Context is important.
Work through the Writing Blueprint (the list of questions that helps you figure out your piece’s underlying strategy, messages, target publics, goals, etc. – the
answers to the items 1 – 4 above). You will have to submit this along with your op-ed. A blank form can be found in the Key Materials folder and the Weeks 8/9 course
Sketch out an outline of your argument.
Develop your outline into your op-ed.
Assumptions: There are a couple of real-life pesky details that need to be addressed:
The Journal’s op-ed submission policy does not allow op-eds that are responses to Journal articles. Your op-ed is responding to, or rather springboarding from, the
Mullich advertorial. For the sake of argument and completing this deliverable, let’s assume that the Journal’s submission policy allows for response op-eds.
How you handle this next assumption is up to you. It may or may not affect the writing or your op-ed:
You can consider the Mullich article as it truly is: an opinion piece in a special advertising section to the Journal OR
you can pretend that it was an earned media op-ed that ran in the print version of the Journal.
My expectations: Your op-ed should:
Follow the Journal’s submission guidelines (with the exception above):
Make a strong argument.
Use jargon-free language.
Be bylined by whomever you feel is the best person at CPRE. See the list of choices at HYPERLINK “http://www.commpred.org/about/contact.php”
Be in final form (even though it’s considered a first draft for the purposes of this course).
On either the cover or separate page, please tell me the persuasive approach(es) (i.e., your strategy or scheme, did you employ the inoculation effect or Maslow’s
hierarchy of beliefs?) you’ve chosen to use and why. This will help you to more clearly connect this deliverable to the course materials/lecture notes.
On that same cover or separate page, please provide me with your op-ed’s word count. It must fall between 600 and 1200 words.
What’s my endgame with this piece?
Your operational goal is, of course, to write an engaging, thought-provoking persuasive opinion piece. This piece will construct an erudite and cogent argument while
also trading on the ethos and name of the byliner, and is so compelling that the Journal is inclined to run it.
Your mission goal is to increase the knowledge and positively affect the attitudes and behaviors of the Journal’s readers vis-à-vis the topic of the state of writing
and writing education in the United States.
Mullich, J. (2009, May 18). Rising to the challenge: America’s math and science curriculum is
key to future competiveness. Retrieved from
HYPERLINK “http://online.wsj.com/ad/article/mathscience-rising” http://online.wsj.com/ad/article/mathscience-rising