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.
We’ve included an example letter to the editor 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 your letters 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 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?
Ex. Safe Streets Lead to Healthy Lifestyles!
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]:
Streets are the great connectors of any neighborhood. They don’t just lead us from one place to another in our cars, they bring us together on our bike rides, morning jogs, and evening strolls. At least, that’s what they’re supposed to do. However in some parts of [CITY], the opposite is true: streets are unsafe for people who walk, bike, or roll because there are so few bike lanes, sidewalks, curb ramps, or crosswalks. This not only limits our options for how to travel, but it also discourages being physically active.
State whether you’re in agreement or disagreement with the article, and then make a few key points to explain why.
It’s time to change this, and I believe that complete streets are the solution. When complete streets are in place, it means streets are built to be shared by all travelers: walkers, bikers, folks who rely on public transportation, and drivers.
Include statistics and facts about the issue early on—this can help support your agreement or disagreement.
It’s not hard to imagine how this might improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods by making them more livable and connected. Creating safe and accessible routes for everyone gives people the option to add more physical activity to their daily routines—which has proven to help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and strokes. Complete streets provide additional transportation options—allowing travelers in [STATE/CITY] to move choose healthy and safe options.
Include a solution to the problem, tying your cause to the article.
It’s time we encouraged our leaders and city planners to incorporate Streets Built to Share™ into road construction or reconstruction projects for the safety and health of our town. To get involved, visit [LINK TO ACTION PAGE].
Be sure to sign your letter with your name, organization affiliation, or campaign name.