Letters to the editor are short letters from readers printed on the editorial page, most often discussing a recent event or issue covered by a publication, radio station, or TV program. They are your chance to “sound-off” to your community about issues in the news. They are widely read—so make them an important part of your media strategy.
- It is much easier to publish a letter to the editor than it is to place an op-ed. Your letter has the best chance of being published if it is a reaction to a story in the paper. Respond as quickly as you can.
- Read the letters page—you will learn how to develop an effective letter-writing style and you will see if someone has already responded with your idea.
- Keep it short and concise—150-200 words. The paper will take the liberty to shorten your letter to suit its format; the more it has to cut, the less control you have of what gets printed. Lead with your most important information.
- Focus on one main point and make a compelling case. State the point very early in the letter—the first or second sentence.
- Write in short paragraphs, with no more than three sentences per paragraph.
- Avoid personal attacks.
- Put your full name, address and phone number at the top of the page and sign the letter at the bottom. You must include a phone number for verification purposes.
- When you write a letter, copy your member of Congress' foreign policy aide. Even if the letter doesn’t get printed, they’ll see that you’re writing to local papers, and they’ll pay attention—because they know that when a letter does get printed, a lot of their constituents will be learning about Latin America policy, and their office had better respond to constituents concerns!
- Follow up with the paper to see if the letter was received, unless the paper specifically says “do not call.”