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: We need healthy choices for our children!
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.
There are some things that are important to stand for—and safe streets built not just for cars but for walking, rolling and biking is one example.
Kids and families in all neighborhoods should have healthy and safe ways to access parks, school, their sports practices, work and groceries. Not only will it help increase physical activity, it will decrease crashes and make our streets safer. Funding for sidewalks, crosswalks, curb cuts, bike lanes and other traffic calming measures improve our streets for all users-walkers, bikers and drivers alike.
State whether you’re in agreement or disagreement with the article, and then make a few key points to explain why.
Sharon’s article really resonated with me—especially when she shared about driving her kids to the park because there are no bike lanes to get there. I agree completely that the important steps toward active and safe transportation options have to continue.
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.
That’s where we come in. As a community, we can work together to demonstrate the need for continued and increased funding in [STATE]. Funding will ensure progress toward in our towns so kids don’t have to choose between being safe and the healthy option.
If you think there needs to be more streets built to share for our kids, you can take action by visiting www.voicesforhealthykids.org/Bike-Ped.
Be sure to sign your letter with your name, organization affiliation, or campaign name.
[ORGANIZATION LEADER OR MAIN POINT OF CONTACT]