How To Write A Letter To The Editor


Open the letter with a simple salutation

Don't worry if you don't know the editor's name. A simple "To the Editor of the Daily Sun," or just “To the Editor:” is sufficient. If you have the editor's name, however, you should use it to increase the possibilities of your letter being read.

 

First sentence should mention the question

It’s important to grab the reader’s attention from the opening sentence. Your opener should highlight that you’ve published a question about *insert important issue*.

 

Intro paragraph should give context of issue

This paragraph should be a simple summary of the background information you have already put together for the question itself. It’s a good opportunity to highlight the importance of your issue and why you’re taking feedback.

 

Include current state of results

If you have already sent the question out to your mailing lists and social media, you should have a decent number of responses already. People love participating in conversations with “buzz”, and mentioning the current results provides social proof and invites others to engage.

 

Briefly summarize comments

Nothing is more effective than hearing the opinions of peers. A brief summary of the different perspectives found in the comments of your poll validates that opinions are actually being considered and stimulates readers to consider and include their own opinions. Just make sure to remove any commenter’s personal information.

 

Ask for additional feedback and include link

The purpose of writing one of these letters is to engage with a larger audience, so the end of your letter should be a call to action. Most people who have read this far have already formed their own opinion, so letting them know you are still taking additional feedback invites them to share. Be sure to include the unique link to your question, which can be copied from the twitter or facebook button on the question dashboard.

 

Sign the letter

Be sure to write your full name (and title, if relevant) and to include your address, phone number, and e-mail address. Newspapers won't print anonymous letters, though in some cases they may withhold your name on request. They may also call you to confirm that you wrote the letter before they publish it.


Example of a successful letter:

Dear Newton Tab,

On Sunday I sent out a question because I wanted to know what people thought about the best way to tackle snow removal. The status quo is not acceptable, in which too many sidewalks don't get cleared, leaving pedestrians including children and the elderly walking in the streets. One option proposed is to continue to hold residents responsible for clearing snow from their sidewalks, but start issuing $25 fines to those who do not comply. Another option is to have the City take over the responsibility for clearing sidewalks, though that would be a cost increase that would have to be passed along to taxpayers.

After two days, we have already received over five hundred responses as well as some really great comments from your fellow residents. Some common trends amongst the comments are concern for the elderly and disabled, providing a list of for-hire students, and having the city assume responsibility on major walkways.

As of now, the current results are 23% in favor of the status quo, 23% in favor of the city taking it on, and 54% in favor of an additional fine.

We are actively seeking more opinions on this matter, and if you would like to have you voice heard on the issue, please follow this link: https://app.involved.mobi/question/?id=119

All the best,

Emily Norton

Newton City Council