You can use the following template to customize and pitch a holiday op-ed to local publications or draft a blog post for your organization or partners. You can use this language or change it as you see fit, and you do not need to credit the Public Health Communications Collaborative. Here are some tips for getting an op-ed placed.
Step 1: To reinforce the points in the op-ed, add local, verified information—including statistics and stories—about COVID-19 spread resulting from a gathering. At the end, add a brief, one or two sentence description of the author with current title and affiliation.
Step 2: Check the publication’s website for its submission guidelines. Many news outlets limit the total word count, so check for length restrictions. Some also have guidelines on citing sources for the stats you use.
Step 3: Draft an email or short cover note for your submission. Include basic information about the op-ed topic, why it’s important to share this with their readers now, the author’s credentials, and contact information.
Step 4: Submit your op-ed according to the publication’s guidelines. The staff who oversee the commentary/op-ed section get many submissions each day. Some news outlets prefer submissions via online forms, which may send an automated reply.
Step 5: If you don’t hear from the publication within 72 hours, follow up with a phone call or email.
Step 6: If your op-ed is selected, you will hear from an editor who may have questions, edits, or a form you need to sign before publication. Be sure to respond promptly so you don’t delay the publication process.
Sample Op-Ed: Protect Now, Celebrate Later
When records are broken, we often celebrate. But when that record is the number of new COVID-19 cases in the [state/county], that’s cause for concern. We have more than [x] cases and [x] people in the hospital right now from COVID-19, more than at any time during the virus [if this is accurate in your community].
These are our family members, friends, and neighbors fighting for their lives. And if current upward trends of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue, communities will be forced to backtrack on reopening businesses, which will put livelihoods, small businesses, and our entire economy at risk. Now is the time to avoid activities that spread the virus in order to save lives and help our economy get back on track.
Many COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic or mild, which is a reason to be more cautious, not less. Even if you feel fine, you could pass the virus to a more vulnerable individual who might suffer severe symptoms and complications. And while the early reports about potential COVID-19 vaccines are promising, results are preliminary, and it will be months before vaccines are available to the general public.
Quality time with loved ones is precious, especially time spent with elderly members of the family, but gatherings during this time put them at a high risk when they are already more susceptible to the virus. Across the country [or “in our area”], we’ve seen that large indoor family gatherings can easily become super-spreading events. [insert local example if available]
This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this holiday season if you take precautions when celebrating with friends and family.
While it is safest to avoid gatherings, if you do spend time with people from outside your “bubble,” do so wisely. Keep groups small, wear masks, and social distance. If you can’t meet outdoors, ensure there is proper ventilation. Avoid buffets and other shared food, and instead designate a single person to serve – while wearing a mask. And stay local, as traveling and including out-of-town guests in gatherings substantially increases the risk of spreading COVID-19 across multiple communities.
The holiday season is a time when we feel gratitude for what we value: our family, friends, community, and financial security. Taking prudent steps – masking wearing, social distancing and hand washing – to protect what we value will safeguard what we most cherish.
[Add one sentence about the author]