Toolkit: Everything You Need to Write, Edit and Place an Opinion Piece

Intro:

Last night Greenpeace hosted a training on how to write a great letter to the editor or opinion editorial piece. We’re asking you to write one for your local community about regarding recent plastics industry decisions. 

This toolkit will provide everything you need to catch up if you missed the call.

We hope to keep growing and expanding our impact, from calling on Congress to holding corporations responsible for polluting our communities and ecosystems.  Our action doesn’t stop at the call though. 

Below is everything you need to take action with Greenpeace!

Here’s what we learned:

KNOW: the power of opinion pieces to make your voice heard 

DO: Put pressure on the plastics industry by responding to states and municipalities abandoning progressive plastic legislation 

FEEL: Feel comfortable writing and submitting your own piece.

Watch the recording hereGet the Slides here

Why the plastic industry, now?

Talking points to incorporate into your letter to the editor or editorial opinion: 

  • The plastics industry is using fear around COVID-19 to increase profits. In recent weeks, it appears to have activated a multi-million dollar echo chamber that is straight out of the fossil fuel industry’s playbook, and involves many of the same fossil-funded corporate front groups that tout industry-funded research and help publish alarmist media coverage.
  • Plastic industry surrogates have stepped up their lobbying efforts against reusable bags, urging governments to ban them and embrace disposable plastics instead. Front groups have touted industry-funded research to claim that reusables are dangerous, though none of the studies they cite even include COVID-19 or coronaviruses. 
  •  In fact, the most relevant study from the National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA, and Princeton University shows that the virus can live on plastic surfaces longer than others — a convenient point for the industry to ignore in its PR push. 
  • While temporary pauses on bans are understandable, it’s important for people to know that the plastics industry has been pushing industry propaganda to exploit people’s fears around COVID-19. 
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, we should be listening to healthcare professionals, public health experts, and scientists whose intentions are to keep us from getting sick — to keep our families safe. 
  • Industry front groups connected to the fossil fuel industry have circulated industry-funded research to try to damage reusable programs nationwide. 
  • The plastics industry is using the same playbook utilized to deny climate science. The industry is looking to increase profits for companies in the plastics and fossil fuel industries and nothing more. 
  • If cities or stores feel more comfortable by pausing bans to allow for more flexibility, or prefer that people bag their own groceries in reusable bags, that’s one thing. But touting industry-funded research to increase the use of single-use plastics and turn back the clock is a despicable model that only furthers misinformation.

The Basics:

Everything you need to write, edit, and place an opinion piece. 

COVID-19 is presenting an urgent threat to our health and safety. While the world focuses on the pandemic, governments and profiteers are using it to roll back environmental regulations, push through oil projects, silence activists, and suppress voters. 

With large public gatherings currently on hold, we must rely on alternative avenues if we are to change the course of history and defend our right to a livable planet. During this critical election year, each of us must use our voice and our vote to fight for the systemic change we need in order to tackle the climate crisis at the scale that science and justice demand. 

Why Opinion Pieces?

It is all of our responsibility to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to make the climate justice movement accessible for everyone during these difficult times. We’re not canceling — we’re pivoting as we take our movement online for now. Placing opinion pieces in outlets across the country is one of the best ways we can keep climate action in the news while showing corporations and elected officials that we are still holding them accountable even as we practice social distancing.

Media’s intense coverage of COVID-19 means they have little resources to report on other issues. Tying your opinion piece into current events provides an opportunity to give a new or overlooked perspective.  

There are two types of opinion pieces you can consider:

  • Opinion-editorials (op-ed) are usually 650-800 words, express a strong opinion from the perspective of the author, and tend to focus on issues in the news *right now*
  • Letter to the editors (LTE): are usually 200-250 words and respond (either agree or disagree) to a specific article in a news outlet

Whether you’re writing an op-ed or a letter to the editor, here are some things you’ll definitely want to include. Remember to be as specific as possible!

Make Your Writing Stand Out

  • Make sure that it is timely!
  • You are an expert in your own story. Make sure to include you personal motivation about the issues – why do you care about the issue?
  • Include your demand or suggestions for improvement.
  • Make sure to end it next steps-  how people can help or what you hope to achieve?

The Pathway to Publication

How do I know where & how to submit my piece?

Where to Submit Your Piece and What to Send to the Editor

  • Read the directions and consult the Op-ed project
  • Follow the directions for your specific publication
  • Look up the guidelines:
    • If its a form: submit according to the websites’ directions
    • If its an email: add 1 paragraph try to explain:
    • what is new or fresh in your piece
    • why is this relevant right now
    • why it makes sense for their outlet
  • Read the directions! What does it ask you to include? (headshot, phone number, etc.)

Stay in the loop & Join future calls!

Take Action Tuesdays are new, so make sure to stay in the loop. 

  1. Check out our other calls – including Earth Day Live next week and then Take Action Tuesday – in our volunteer call calendar!
  2. Join our Greenpeace Action Calls where we will learn together, take action together, and build community during these difficult times. Sign up here to access our Volunteer Call Calendar and get updates on upcoming opportunities! 
  3. Join our Greenpeace slack to talk with other Greenpeace volunteers, ask questions and be the first to hear about new opportunities to take action.
  4. Weren’t able to make the call? Check out the slides. Watch the recording

Thank you for taking action & staying positive,

Supporter Mobilization (SupMob) Team at Greenpeace USA

Got any questions?

Supporter Mobilization Team in a recent Zoom Meeting

If you have any questions or run into any issues, reach out to the Supporter Mobilization Team at [email protected]