How to Write a Letter to the Editor
Guess which is the most read section of the local paper? Yep, the Editorial Page. Letters to the editors work and have a big impact. Here are some tried and true tips to write a letter and get it published!
What is a Letter to the Editor?
Letters to the Editor can be an effective way to publish information about a current issue or topic to a large audience. They are short, usually under 300 words, and they provide facts and personal stories about a particular issue.
Letters to the Editor are published in the editorial section of a newspaper or website, and they can be an effective tool of advocacy by drawing people’s attention to a topic, creating community discussion about it, and showing the media that there is community interest in the topic.
Why should you write a Letter to the Editor?
You should write one if you feel strongly about a particular issue. They are a great way to advocate for an issue and increase community awareness and involvement in the issue. They can be strong tools to influence policy-makers and elected officials and publicize the advocacy efforts.
What should you include in your Letter to the Editor?
Make it interesting.
Think of an opening sentence that will grab a reader’s attention. Can you think of a helpful metaphor or catch phrase that will help show your perspective on an issue?
Make it clear what the letter is about.
Explain right at the beginning what issue you are addressing. Make it specific.
Show why the issue is important.
Explain why this issues matters to you, and why other people should find it important. Write about the issue in a way that someone who is unfamiliar with the issue can understand.
Support your opinion with facts or a personal story.
Do some research to find a statistic or fact that supports your argument about the issue. You can also share a personal story that creates a strong emotional support for your opinion.
Relate it to a current event or conversation impacting your community.
Newspapers are more likely to publish an article that is related to a current event that is important to their readers. You can make sure your Letter is timely by making sure it connects with a current event, previously published article, or issue impacting your community.
Provide a plan for action.
What should happen next? To make your Letter have further impact, suggest an action for the reader or an elected official to take. What do you think the right course of action would be?
Have someone review your letter to make sure it is clear and concise.
It is very important that your letter is very short and clear in its message. The best way to check is to have someone else provide you with input. Contact our Director of Advocacy Sally Jo if you would like her assistance with writing or editing a Letter to the Editor.
Looking for an example?
Our staff, volunteers, and advocates at Consumer Health Coalition have published many Letters to the Editor. See past examples here.