If you’re looking to submit your opinion column or letter to a widely read civilian publication with a fairly straightforward submission process, look no further than USA TODAY. Keep in mind, however, that USA TODAY editors admit that they receive a large volume of submissions. So how do you make your submission stand out amongst the crowd? Cision, a public relations company, has five tips for approaching USA TODAY1, and I have adapted these tips for LIS writers.
Think of the national impact
When considering a topic to pitch to USA TODAY, think of the impact the topic will have on a national level rather than a local level. For example, if you are thinking about submitting a piece speaking to an issue at your local public library, you want to consider if that issue will be important to — or have an impact on — readers in another state.
Related to the above point, can you relate your local or regional topic to a national trend? A timely example of this might be how a public library has shifted service in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Think about how readers, companies, and organizations across the country will relate to your piece.
Offer unique content
USA TODAY will not publish a piece that has been published in another publication, website, or blog. Therefore, when pitching to USA TODAY, it is best to submit the piece to USA TODAY exclusively. Of course, if your piece does not get accepted, you could always take it elsewhere. Make sure to include links to any research that you’ve done, so the editors can verify the facts being presented in your piece.
It is important that you communicate in a timely manner with the editors. If they respond to your pitch, either with questions or concerns, respond as quickly as possible. Editors are often on a tight schedule and may pass on your piece if they don’t hear back from you.
Consider your audience
When developing a pitch to submit to USA TODAY, ask yourself the following question: will the average reader care about this topic? If the answer is yes, then you’re on the right track! If the answer is no, or you’re not sure, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. If the average reader won’t be interested in the topic, it will likely not be published. Think about what YOU want to read or would read as well. You are an intended audience member of USA TODAY, after all.
By following these tips, your chances of being published in USA TODAY are greatly increased. (Thank you, Cision, for the inspiration!) Check out the LIS Publications Wiki profile for USA TODAY, which details specific submission guidelines as well as more information about the readership characteristics and potential for LIS authors.
- “PR 101: Five Tips for Pitching USA Today”, Cision.com, accessed October 26, 2020, https://www.cision.com/us/2016/08/pr-101-five-tips-for-pitching-usa-today/ ↩