Take Action Toolkit
TIPS ON WRITING EFFECTIVE LETTERS & EDITORIALS
Letters to the Editor and Editorials are the most popular features in your local newspaper. Your elected representatives also keep a close eye on editorials in their local papers to keep a 'pulse' on issues of importance to their constituents. Having a strong letter published helps raise awareness and the profile on important issues. You can reach both a wide public audience and your elected officials with the same effort. Even if your letter is not published, it is an important way to persuading editors to dedicate more time in their newspaper to issues that are important us all—both on the editorial page and in news articles.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Keep it short and focused. Avoid getting into the weeds with in-depth policy talk. Most papers won't print letters that are too long or too broad. In general, the letter should be no more than 150 words with the main point in the first sentence or two.
Get personal & local. Share a personal story and try to make a local connection demonstrating the how the issue impacts our community
Respond to an article in your local paper. Your letter will have a greater chance of being printed if it is in response to an editorial, an op-ed, or front page story. Be sure to cite the original story by name, date, and author.
Be sure to follow your paper’s editorial guidelines. Information on how and to whom to submit a letter-to-the-editor is usually found right on the letters page in your paper.
Be timely. Respond to an article within two or three days of its publication.
Refer to legislator's by name. Using your legislator’s name almost assures their staff will give him or her the letter to read personally.
Include your contact information. Be sure to include your name, address, and daytime phone number; the paper will contact you before printing your letter.
Follow-up! If your letter is printed, clip out your printed letter and send it to your representatives office with a brief cover note.
Finally, don't forget to contact us if your letter is published or if you need help putting it all together! As Democrats, our greatest strength is the people who support our party. Your voice will help us win the hearts and minds of our community.