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 to share your opinion, along with facts about the cause and details on 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 LTE 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 LTEs 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 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?
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 for me to learn that the current generation of children in our country may have shorter life expectancies than their parents. If the United States truly considers itself a global leader, we should lead by example and work harder to help our children grow up healthy. Rates of type 2 diabetes and heart disease continue to rise. As a [PARENT or TEACHER or CONCERNED MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY], I realize our children spend many of their waking hours at school. As a result, it is critical for schools and others to help encourage kids to establish proper eating and physical activity habits in order to avoid these preventable diseases and maintain good health throughout their lives.
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]. We must act now to ensure our children are being taught the value of physical activity, nutrition, and general healthy habits from a young age. One way we can accomplish this is by partnering with our local schools to improve or develop a wellness policy to ensure our kids have a healthy and active environment, and learn lessons during the school day that will carry on for a lifetime.
Include a solution to the problem, tying your cause to the article. In this case, school wellness plans are one solution to help resolve the obesity problem in the U.S.
Unfortunately, local school wellness policies are often underdeveloped and don’t address the unique needs of each school. I believe that we, as parents, teachers and community members, have an obligation to ensure these policies are implemented, to help our kids form healthy habits that will help keep them healthy as adults.
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]