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 stand up for [STATE]’s 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]:
Include statistics and facts about the issue early on—this can help support your agreement or disagreement.
$150 million is a lot of money; in fact, it’s the equivalent of buying 30 advertisements during the Super Bowl in 2016. It’s also the amount of money food and beverage companies spent in 2009 to market their products in schools. While some of these dollars are spent marketing healthy products, far too often the products being promoted are of poor nutritional quality.
State whether you’re in agreement or disagreement with the article, and then make a few key points to explain why. Include a solution to the problem, tying your cause to the article. In this case, reducing unhealthy food and drink marketing is one solution to help resolve the obesity problem in the U.S.
All those marketing dollars—often for products like pizza, sugary drinks, and burgers—undermine parents’ and teachers’ efforts to instill healthy habits in kids. They are used in marketing programs that reward kids with junk food for achievements in school. And they distract students from learning how to make healthy food choices at school and at home.
I agree with [AUTHOR]. At a time when one-third of children are at an increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even some types of cancer, we need to reinforce healthy eating habits at schools and remove unhealthy food and beverage marketing. We need your help to make sure more schools in [STATE] don’t let food and drink companies sell our kids short.
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.
Please help our community get rid of junk food marketing in schools. You can take action by visiting [LINK TO MORE INFORMATION].
Be sure to sign your letter with your name, organization affiliation, or campaign name.
[ORGANIZATION LEADER OR MAIN POINT OF CONTACT]