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Op-ed Brainstorm Tool

Is this a national level issue or specific to your state/community?
Does your op-ed have a news hook that makes it relevant and newsworthy right now?
Do you know the main 1 – 2 key points you want to address in your op-ed?
Do you have a compelling personal or patient stories and perspectives can you use to humanize the issue?
Do you have a call to action? Do you know what you want lawmakers or community members to do about your issue?
Have you thought about the target news outlet to pitch you piece to?

Click next step to generate your op-ed checklist

Op-ed Brainstorm Checklist

You’ve completed the first step of your op-ed drafting process – the initial brainstorm! Based on how you responded, below is a checklist to help guide you on next steps. If you’d like, you can print this checklist and refer to it as you make progress. You can also save it as a PDF by clicking print and then “Save to PDF.”

  • You have an issue in mind, which is a great first step! Start thinking about the other elements that would make an op-ed on this topic compelling, timely and newsworthy.
  • Learn more about the AAP’s advocacy on this issue. As a start, visit for an overview of child health advocacy issues or email to share your interest in writing an op-ed and ask about AAP’s advocacy.
  • It’s ok if you don’t know whether your issue is national- or state-focused. Email and let us know what you’re interested in writing about.
  • A news hook is one of the most important elements of your piece. Make the news hook clear from the beginning of your draft, so that readers understand why this issue is important right now.
  • Without a news hook, your op-ed is not likely to get published. Stay on the lookout for ways to make your op-ed timely and think creatively – is there an upcoming awareness month or anniversary focused on your issue?
  • Think creatively about any potential news hooks for your piece: is there a recent news story on the topic? A bill moving in Congress? An upcoming awareness month or anniversary? Still not sure? Email to ask.
  • Start outlining the 1-2 key points you’d like to make in your piece. Remember – this is not a research paper! Keep your writing concise and avoid jargon. If you have any relevant data, pick the most powerful point or two to include.
  • Ask yourself: What are the 1-2 main points that I want a reader to take away from my op-ed? Start outlining those top points and remember – this is not a research paper! Keep your writing concise and avoid jargon. If you have any relevant data, pick the most powerful point or two to include.
  • Visit the Advocacy Guide section on storytelling, which provides helpful tips on how to tell a compelling patient story or personal anecdote that supports your advocacy. Your word count is limited in an op-ed – so keep that in mind!
  • Personalization and unique experience make an op-ed most powerful. Think critically about why you feel so passionate about this issue and how you are uniquely suited to write about the topic – this can help you brainstorm relevant patient stories or personal perspective. Visit the Advocacy Guide section on storytelling for more inspiration!
  • Be sure to end your op-ed with a strong call to action. The key points that you cover throughout your op-ed should support your ask and illustrate why change or action is needed.
  • Having a clear call to action is a vital element of your op-ed. For guidance on any relevant child health policy asks, email Waiting until you have a clear call to action will make your op-ed more relevant and strategically effective.
  • Check the website for the outlet you are hoping to pitch. Most news outlets have information there on opinion submission requirements, including word count.
  • Get to know your target news outlet’s opinion pages. Have they covered this issue recently? Or, have they published another similar op-ed that might lessen the chances of yours getting picked up?
  • It’s a digital world! Remember – getting a URL linking to your op-ed is most important. Start by looking into your local and state newspapers for opportunities for publication.


No matter where you are in the op-ed brainstorming or drafting process, email with any questions. The AAP media team can provide further guidance to help support your op-ed writing efforts!

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