Remember Mad Libs? Back before any of us had devices, on road trips our choices were pretty much limited to staring out the window, poking our siblings, or doing Mad Libs.

 “Adjective,” your sister would say. “Smelly,” you’d say.

Around LightBox, almost as legendary as the original Mad Libs? The one Amanda Cooper created several years ago to help with pitching reporters: More Than the Perfect Pitch: Connecting with the Right Reporter…Mad Lib-Style.

Over the years, we’ve heard from countless organizations that this fill-in-the-blank tool helped them streamline their process and get their stories told. Now we’ve created a new Mad Libs for Op-Ed Pitches specific to the kinds of details an op-ed editor will want. 

Easy Tools for the Win

Our Op-Ed Mad Libs template focuses on the hook — the part of the piece that hooks your audience in and answers the question “why now?” 

Take this opinion piece to the San Francisco Chronicle about a large survey of gig workers in San Francisco. Our friends at Jobs with Justice San Francisco knew that it would be hard to get coverage of the report on its own. They also knew that Elon Musk was all over the news at the time for defying shelter-in-place orders. 

Their opinion piece smartly placed Musk and gig worker exploitation together in the context of Silicon Valley’s “move fast, break things” culture. In the short pitch letter they wrote to accompany the piece (using Amanda’s original pitch Mad Lib), they focused on Musk. Their piece was published and the attention helped move their campaign forward.

Focus on the Hook

Take a closer look at the gig worker op-ed below and you’ll be able to identify the types of hooks they used:

Elon Musk reflects Silicon Valley’s ‘move fast and break things’ culture

By Chris Benner and Kung Feng

SF Chronicle 5/14/20

Some might be shocked that Elon Musk had openly defied the local government’s shelter-in-place order, a move that helped force the county to allow him to reopen the Tesla factory in Fremont next week, risking the safety of workers and the public to make luxury cars. We aren’t. While Musk’s move may be controversial, the attitude behind it is too common in Silicon Valley…..

Last week, we released the results of a large survey of ride share and food delivery workers in San Francisco, the heart of the gig economy.

We found that the gig economy, a supposed emblem of Silicon Valley entrepreneurship and opportunity, is actually impoverishing drivers.

As you can see, the main hook they used was that of celebrity. They also used a study/new numbers as a hook, as well as a different take on current news.

So there you have it. 

Adjective, you say?

Well, that’d be “published.”

In our next post, we identify other common hooks and tips for writing your op-ed.

Senior Strategist Isobel White is proud of the hook she developed for this very piece: positive, nostalgic, shared experience.