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. Before we dive in, here’s an example of a published LTE on preemption in California.
The Mercury News: Letter: How the soda industry in subverting our democratic process
We’ve included an example letter to the editor below, in response to a hypothetical article about a local issue being preempted. 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. Most publications have regulations around how long your letters can be, so check with the editor of the publication you’re submitting your letter to before you begin writing.
- 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?
- Write and submit an LTE to a specific publication. Do not send the same letter to more than one publication!
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.
State whether you’re in agreement or disagreement with the article, and then make a few key points to explain why.
Include a path forward, tying your cause to the article.
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.
Ex: Local Leaders Should Be Able to Protect Our Health.
Regarding [AUTHOR’S NAME]’s article, [TITLE AND DATE OF ARTICLE]:
[AUTHOR’S NAME]’s article on [ISSUE BEING PREEMPTED] illustrates the importance of maintaining the ability of our local officials to pass laws that improve health.
[STATE] state legislators are trying to prevent local leaders from taking action on pressing issues that will keep their communities and economies healthy. From minimum wage to healthy kids meals, state legislatures across the country are increasingly preventing local leaders from addressing these important issues. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen here.
[CITY/REGION OF PUBLICATION] is obviously very different from [OTHER REGION/CITY THAT IS DIFFERENT]. Our laws and policies should reflect those differences. As [AUTHOR] stated,[QUOTE/PARAPHRASE FROM ARTICLE BEING REFERENCED ex: businesses have always adapted to local ordinances – and local governments have long decided how to best meet the needs of their people and businesses].
We need to make sure our city and county leaders continue to have the ability to pass laws that reflect our needs. I encourage all of our state’s residents to join our campaign, [CAMPAIGN NAME], a group of community members working to oppose [BILL NUMBER], and ensure that our local communities have the freedom and flexibility to thrive
[ORGANIZATION LEADER OR MAIN POINT OF CONTACT]