Letters to the editor are a very important part of any public advocacy campaign. The opinion page is the second most read page of the paper, the front page of course being the first. Letters to the editor are a valuable and free resource for us to use.
Be a GMO labeling hero and submit a letter to the editor!
Here are some examples of some great LTE’s written by a couple of our local leaders in recent months:
Why passing a GMO labeling bill necessary for all (Daily Hampshire Gazette, January 2016)
You can do it, too!
General Tips for Effective Letters to the Editor
1. Be Concise. Keep your letter to under 200 words. If it is too long, your most important point may be cut. Newspapers reserve the right to edit letters before publication.
2. Make timely comments. We always want to be responding directly to just published articles or opinion piece, immediately. What matters to an editor now, won’t in a few days.
3. Focus. The first sentence of your letter should explain why you are writing. Make it as easy as possible for the editorial staff and readers to understand the purpose of your letter. For our purposes, include at top of letter Re: “name of article responding to”
4. State your point. Following your opening sentence, try to summarize your issue/argument, correction, or additional information in the next sentence.
5. Target your audience. Be sure to submit your letter to your local paper – that’s why you’ll need volunteers in the cities of the major newspapers – clearly not as difficult in other states as it was in California.
6. Use plain language. Easy-to-understand language ensures your message will not be misunderstood. Avoid using jargon, technical and complex ideas, write for an audience that has virtually no background on the subject matter.
7. Close Strong. Use your last sentence to make a strong statement.
8. Check. Proofread and check your spelling. Also review the guidelines for each newspaper to ensure that your letter conforms – this should be facilitated by LTE program leader and/or field directors.
9. If Submitting by E-mail: Be sure to write “LETTER TO THE EDITOR SUBMISSION” in the Subject line. This will ensure your work gets routed to the appropriate editor.
10. You Must Include Your Contact Info: Most opinion page editors often require the following fields for a LTE submission to be considered (Name, Address, City, State, Zip, Phone Number, E-mail). Once published, LTEs will only include your name and city of residence.
Staying on Message:
- Many people are tuning into this issue for first time, so remember that when writing letters, what seems old to you is new to others! That’s why we must use our best arguments EVERY time.
- Stay away from hyperbole, ALL CAPS, exclamation points, attacking reporters or the paper too harshly, and messages that simply don’t help the cause…which is to get people to voice their support for GMO labeling! (i.e. Monsanto destroying world and enslaving farmers, we “know” that GMO’s are deadly…these kinds of assertions can put off voters and antagonize the press.
- DON’T spend much time correcting article mistakes or opponents claims – unless it’s reframed in our language, if at all.
More Talking Points
For some messaging ideas, see our page, “Why Label GMOs?”
Please do email us if you want help or have any questions about writing a Letter to the Editor. We’re happy to help! email@example.com
Thank you for taking action in this most important way.