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: Let’s provide healthy options for our kids!
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]:
State whether you’re in agreement or disagreement with the article, and then make a few key points to explain why.
I agree with the author’s concern over increasing health issues among our children. What’s interesting to me is that it seems like chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart diseases, can be prevented, especially if we help our kids develop healthy habits at an early age.
While there is no single cause or solution to this health crisis, there is an obvious contributor. Sugary drinks are an unnecessary part of the American diet, that just a few decades ago were considered a treat and are now guzzled at alarming rates.
Include statistics and facts about the issue early on—this can help support your agreement or disagreement.
Sugary drinks are the single leading source of added sugars in the U.S. diet and are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends that children over the age of 2 have no more than one 8-ounce sugary drink a week. Yet children today are consuming as much as ten times that amount.
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.
We need to cut down on drinks with sugar added, and a tax on those beverages could help that happen. If the revenue is invested in programs that improve health, the benefits could be even greater!
We need your help to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks and improve the health of kids in [STATE]. To learn how you can get involved, take action by visiting VoicesForHealthyKids.org/Sugary-Drinks.
Be sure to sign your letter with your name, organization affiliation, or campaign name.
[ORGANIZATION LEADER OR MAIN POINT OF CONTACT]