Submission Guidelines

How to Pitch a Successful Op-Ed, Byline, Blog Post or Viewpoint

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Ad Age frequently runs original op-eds and viewpoint pieces from members of the advertising, marketing and media industries, who can submit pitches or completed pieces for consideration to AdAgeContributors@adage.com. When we can use a proposed piece we try to reply within two business days, but the volume of submissions we receive means we can't answer every email we receive.

The most successful proposed pieces take stands on timely questions that matter to many people in the Ad Age audience, typically in 750 words or less and without serving as veiled or indirect ads for the author's company. Some further guidance:

Exclusivity

Pieces should not have run elsewhere and should not be simultaneously pitched to other publications, whether in print or digital media. If we run your piece, we retain exclusive rights for one week, after which you are free to post it elsewhere.

Content

The writer needs to take a clear position, often going out on a limb with his or her perspective and inviting disagreement. The piece should reflect the individual's own opinion, view, expertise and not that of his or her company. There should also be a clear takeaway for intended audience. The writer should include real-world examples to support points. And they should not all concern the company where the author works.

The content should not be self-promotional (even subtly) or reasonably construed as such. These pieces should not perform double-duty as ads for the author's company or services; they should be attempts to grapple with important marketing and media issues. If you're bringing up a problem that your company is particularly well-suited to solve, you are probably on thin ice.

Any potential conflict of interest that would cast doubt on the credibility of your article or Ad Age must be disclosed up front.

Writing should be conversational in style, accessible and comprehensible. While it's important to pick the right topic, there is also value in the author who cares enough to write the piece well and in his/her credentials/expertise/credibility.

Jargon should be avoided at all costs. Our readers may work in the business, but they'd rather read English than corporate-speak, and you need to make sure the piece is comprehensible and engaging even for people who aren't using the tech, on the account or already immersed in the controversy you're addressing. Here's an example of what not to say:

"This was a multibrand and multiplatform negotiation to drive a portfolio of game properties, and we initiated it to secure seamless integration in the right environments and to leverage their budgets for maximum impact."

That's jargon, if you were unsure. Also note: concept is not a verb; ideate is not a word.

Full pieces should be well-polished when submitted. We will do a final edit, of course, but authors should copy-edit first and check for errors themselves.

Facts should be in order, i's dotted, t's crossed and any quotes accurate. If quoting someone you haven't spoken to directly, include a link to the place from which you got the quote.

Please do not embed any hyperlinks using word processing programs -- just place the URL in parentheses immediately after the word or phrase that should be linked (http://www.likethis.com).

There should be no footnotes, though links are appreciated. As are ideas for how we can add a service aspect to your piece. Are there five things a readers should know about a topic? Are there websites or telephone numbers they should have? Let us know.

Pitches

If you're pitching an idea rather than sending a completed piece, tell us in conversational language and concise fashion what your piece will say and why we and our audience of marketing, agency and media executives will care.

Canned pitches will almost always be summarily rejected. Know the Ad Age audience and whether or not the subject has been written about.

Tell us in what Ad Age section or sections it could run and how long it will likely be. One indication that a writer has done the homework is that the piece is pitched for the appropriate section, whether that be DigitalNext, Small Agency Diary, CMO Strategy, Agency Viewpoints, Media, The Big Tent or general news.

Please note that for DigitalNext and Small Agency Diary, we aren't usually interested in one-off contributions, but rather in writers who will contribute on a somewhat regular basis.

Next Steps

Acceptance doesn't guarantee ultimate publication. Particular publication dates and the section in which the piece appears won't be guaranteed either.

Deadlines should be honored and, when they're not, the editors should be given as much advance notice as possible.

Editing

Writers should strive to turn in pieces that are ready for publication, with suggested headlines, but Ad Age editors have final say in the shape the piece takes and will frequently reformulate the headline as well as parts of the copy.

In the instance of extremely heavy edits by Ad Age editors, contributors will get one read-back after first edit. All other editing/copyediting decisions (including headlines, length, captions, etc.) will be made by Ad Age. Once an item is live on the site, stylistic changes and tweaks to the copy will not be made.

Legal

All writers need to acknowledge the following: "I understand and accept that Crain Communications will, upon initial publication, own my contributed content and may at any point re-purpose the content for publication in print or online in any of Crain's magazines and web sites." Writers will be required to sign a License to Publish Materials or similar agreement.

Post-Publication

You are encouraged to promote your Ad Age contribution as much as possible. Feel free to blog about your story, link to it on Facebook, alert your Twitter followers about it and so forth. Send the link to all of your social networks and to you colleagues, staff, peers, family and friends. You are free to post your piece in full elsewhere after it has been live on Ad Age's site for one week.

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