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Lumsden urges prospective editorialists to respond to the news quickly. "If something happens, try to get your op-ed in that same day, or the next morning," she said. Finally, emphasize your own take on the issue. Don’t just repeat what other columnists on your side of the fence are saying. Use your story, and end the editorial with forceful statements.

Finally, she advises, "Make sure you copy edit and fact-check your op-ed before you send it. If an editor finds a mistake, that can seriously lessen the chances of the piece being published. You start to question whether the author has done their homework."

Tap into the broadest of audiences by using social-networking Web sites, such as Facebook.com, MySpace.com, Change.org, and AARP.org, where you can create profiles and find groups and individuals who share your interest in certain issues. Setting up a new group on any of these sites is a free, simple way to establish an initial Web presence for your cause, so that you can post event notices, contact information, and more.

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