Write a Letter to the Editor
A letter to the editor (LTE) is a great way to spread awareness about your issue. You can write letters to the editor of a local newspaper, online magazine, or blog as a way to share your opinion, along with facts about the cause and how to get involved in your campaign.
Similar to writing an op-ed, your LTE can be focused on more of an emotional experience with your cause, or it could be more straightforward and fact-based. Keep in mind the readership of the outlet you are sending your LTE to in order to help determine what kind of writing style is most appropriate for your piece. Also, keep in mind that your LTE could take a stance of agreement with or opposition to the original piece you are responding to.
We’ve included an example letter to the editor below, in response to a hypothetical article about a rise in global childhood obesity rates. Before we dive in, here are some key points to remember as you write your own letter:
- You can respond to any article that you feel relates to your cause as a hook to get the editor’s attention with your letter.
- Your LTE should be short and concise, up to 250 words max. Most publications have regulations around how long your letters can be, so you can check with the editor of the publication you’re submitting your letter to.
- Include your name and contact information (including phone number) when you submit your letter. The publication will often call to verify that you truly submitted it.
- Create a title that offers a preview of your subject matter and also attracts the attention of your audience.
- Talk about the issue from your perspective. Why is this important to you? Why do you think it would be important to people in your community?
Ex. PE to help decrease child obesity in America
Make sure to include the author’s name, title, and date of the article, so that people can go back and read the original piece.
Regarding [AUTHOR’S NAME]’s article, [TITLE AND DATE OF ARTICLE]:
Include statistics and facts about the issue early on—this can help support your agreement or disagreement.
It was incredibly alarming to me that we’ve seen chronic disease rates in children rise on a global scale. If the United States truly considers itself a global leader, we should lead by example and work harder to help our children grow up at a healthy weight in this country. Rates of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease continue to rise—and these conditions are completely preventable.
I’m a father of two young girls, and our neighborhood is not the safest environment for them to play. The only time they really get a chance for physical activity is on the weekends when I can supervise, and, even then, it’s not for very long. Many parents in our community feel the same way and are concerned about how this affects the overall health of our children.
State whether you’re in agreement or disagreement with the article, and then make a few key points to explain why.
I’m in complete agreement with [AUTHOR’S NAME], in that we must take action now to ensure our children are being taught the best lessons on the value of physical activity, nutrition, and general healthy habits from a young age. One way we can accomplish this is by advocating for physical education (PE) programs in schools to give our kids a safe and structured environment to be physically active and learn these lessons during the school day.
Include a solution to the problem, tying your cause to the article. In this case, PE is one solution to help resolve the obesity problem in the U.S.
Unfortunately, PE is only offered once a week at my daughters’ school now, and it’s not enough. I believe my daughters are happier and healthier when they are physically active. Help us ensure PE programs are available in schools as a solution to helping solve the obesity problem in this country.
Don’t forget to include a link to action, your organization’s website, or another site you want audiences to visit! This is how you convert readers into advocates for your cause.
Visit [ORGANIZATION NAME AND WEBSITE].
Be sure to sign your letter with your name, organization affiliation, or campaign name.
[ORGANIZATION LEADER OR MAIN POINT OF CONTACT]