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 to share your opinion, along with facts about the cause and details on 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 LTE below, in response to a hypothetical article about the importance of Head Start and Early Head Start programs. 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 LTEs 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 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?

TITLE

Ex. Head Start can help families in [STATE]

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]:

Include statistics and facts about the issue early on—this can help support your agreement or disagreement.

[AUTHOR’S NAME]’s recent article underscores the importance of [ESTABLISHING or PROVIDING BETTER FUNDING] for Head Start and Early Head Start programs across [STATE]. In 2017, less than one-third of eligible children ages three to five nationwide had access to Head Start. I find this entirely unacceptable, as these programs provide families who are struggling with safe and healthy learning environments for their children. Important changes must be made to ensure that access to Head Start and Early Head Start programs is expanded so that all kids that are eligible can participate.

State whether you’re in agreement or disagreement with the article, and then make a few key points to explain why.

I believe [AUTHOR’S NAME] is right when [HE or SHE] says: [QUOTE FROM ARTICLE]. Research shows that children who participate in these programs are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. When children are given the opportunity to learn important skills at an early age, they are given a better shot at succeeding in life. Regardless of where they live or their family’s income, all kids should have access to early learning opportunities that set them up to reach their full potential.

Include a path forward, tying your cause to the article.

It’s time to provide better early education programming to families in our communities who are struggling. At [ORGANIZATION NAME], we are working with policy influencers, early care providers and concerned community members to increase public awareness of Head Start and Early Head Start, and to advocate for program expansion and state funding.

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.

We need voices like yours to help us make meaningful change for families across [STATE]. To get involved, visit [ORGANIZATION NAME AND WEBSITE].

Be sure to sign your letter with your name, organization affiliation, or campaign name.

Sincerely,

[ORGANIZATION LEADER OR MAIN POINT OF CONTACT]