Letters to the Editor are an important tool in building public awareness for your cause. They also tell the publication that public wants to see more coverage on a particular topic. So why not take a few minutes, write a letter to the editor, and let your local publications know your thoughts. A Letter to the Editor (LTTE) has a lot in common with a Facebook rant, so chances are you already have the skills you need.
Keep in mind that a Letter to the Editor is different than an opinion piece (Op-Ed). In the former you are commenting about an article that has been published. In the latter you are commenting about something the publication may or may not have covered.
Know in advance that the publication WILL EDIT your letter, so it is not likely to be published exactly as you wrote it, something to keep in mind while you are writing and formulating your most important point.
Increase your chances of getting your letter to the editor published with these tips:
1. Keep it Short!
Most publications have a small word limit on LTTE but even if they don’t, the shorter the better. Editors are typically looking to fit in as many letters as they can and if you can get your point across succinctly, your chances of publication go WAY up. Play a game and see how short you can make your letter while still keeping it relevant, informative, and interesting.
2. Stick to one single point!
A good LTTE has one single main point. ONE! That’s it. Do not ramble. Stay focused. If you need to make several points, write multiple letters.
3. Keep it timely.
A letter to the editor is commenting on something the publication has written about. Likewise, write your letter as soon after that piece has been published as possible. You might write a brilliant letter but if the editor doesn’t receive it until months after the original piece has been published, your letter’s chance of being published are nonexistent.
4. Know the publication you are submitting to.
It helps to be familiar with the content and style of the publication you are submitting to. Match their tone as best you can.
5. Spelling and grammar count.
This is the big time, your letter in print. You don’t have to write like Hemingway, but spelling, grammar, and sentence structure definitely matter if you expect to be taken seriously.
6. Keep it professional.
This is not the place to go on a profanity-laced rant. Get your point across but keep it professional and G-rated.
7. Back up what you say with facts.
If you are saying anything questionable to controversial, or if you are disputing anything the publication has printed, be sure to back up what you are saying with solid facts.
Writing a letter to the editor need not be stressful or overly time consuming. Give it a try and if at first you don’t succeed, keep on trying. Best of luck!