Letters to the editor are great advocacy tools. After you contact your elected officials, sending letters to the editor can achieve other advocacy goals because they:
- reach a large audience.
- are often monitored by elected officials.
- can bring up information not addressed in a news article.
- establish broad grassroots support for or opposition to an issue.
Keep it short and on one subject.
Many newspapers have strict limits on the length of letters and have limited space to publish them. Typically aim for 200 words.
Make it personal.
Share your own story or experiences - don't worry about trying to be an expert. Start by talking about who you are, then describe a problem or concern, then talk about a solution.
Send letters to weekly community newspapers too.
Policymakers usually monitor all publications in their district and its important your friends and neighbors hear about your ideas as well.
Be sure to include your contact information.
Many newspapers will only print a letter to the editor after calling the author to verify his or her identity and address. Newspapers will not give out that information, and will usually only print your name and city should your letter be published.
Make references to the newspaper.
Some papers print general commentary but many favor letters that refer to a specific article. Here are some examples of easy ways to refer to articles in your opening sentence:
- I was disappointed to see that The Post's May 18 editorial "School Vouchers Are Right On" omitted some of the key facts in the debate.
- I strongly disagree with (author's name) narrow view on women's reproductive rights. ("Name of Op-Ed," date)
- I am deeply saddened to read that Congressman Doe is working to roll back affirmative action. ("Title of Article," date)
- Or for a general letter: I urge all Nebraskans to learn more about LB X an important bill pending in the Nebraska legislature that impacts our land and our water.