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 as that will 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 of type 2 diabetes in children. 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?
Ex. Adopting national standards for out-of-school time programs can reduce childhood obesity
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 about the rise of type 2 diabetes of children in the United States. If we truly consider ourselves to be a global leader, we should lead by example and work harder to help our children grow up healthy. As a [PARENT or TEACHER or CONCERNED MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY], I realize how our children spend their time – both inside and outside of school – is key to their overall wellness. It’s not enough to simply focus on what they are doing inside the school building. Out-of-school time programs are also critical to helping kids establish healthy habits 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] that we must act now to ensure our children are being taught the importance of physical activity, proper nutrition, and other healthy behaviors from an early age. Unfortunately, [STATE] doesn’t yet required that out-of-school time programs meet the healthy eating and physical activity (HEPA) standards adopted by the National AfterSchool Association.
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.
We need to encourage [STATE] to develop a policy that encourages out-of-school time programs to adopt HEPA standards. Given that many program providers lack the necessary resources to implement HEPA standards, we also need to push for the adoption of recognition programs that provide grant resources and technical assistance to out-of-school time programs that are looking to meet these standards.
As parents, program providers, teachers and community members, we can all agree that the implementation of these standards will help our kids form healthy habits they can take with them into adulthood. Together, we can keep kids on a healthy path.
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]