Writing a letter to the editor

TIPS FOR WRITING LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

YOU can create and shape the public debate on poverty.

Letters to the editors are a powerful way of having your voice heard, they are one of the most widely read sections of the newspaper. Writing into your local newspaper can help shape the discussions happening around global poverty, reignite the debate and keep it on the agenda!

These short pieces can be used to respond to articles, trending issues, or the recent events. They are opinionated, personal, and often involve a call to action.

The Fact & Action Sheet is your friend

  • This resource, published on the RESULTS website, provides information, case studies, statistics and campaign asks that you can use to write your letter to the editor.
  • The Sheet also has colour coded boxes, in the order laid out below, so that you can easily spot information to fit into the EPIC format, as you gain letter-writing confidence.

Use the EPIC format

  • Engage your reader
    • Refer to a published article or another published letter
    • Use a surprising statistic – ‘Did you know that 48% of…’
    • Use a catchy phrase – ‘John Smith really hit the nail on the head in his article about…’
    • React with emotion – ‘I was thrilled to read that…’
  • State the Problem
    • Stick to one issue – e.g. Tuberculosis, child health, aid, etc.
    • The problem may have been stated in an article or letter, or you may need to expand on the issue.
    • g. ‘Your article stated ___ but that is just the tip of the iceberg, with ___ accounting for 1.3 million deaths each year’
  • Inform about solutions
    • Be positive – ‘Luckily, the Global Fund does amazing work…’ or ‘for just 50c a child can be vaccinated against…’
    • Link to the call to action
  • Call to action
    • Usually this will be the campaign ask detailed in the Fact & Action Sheet, E.g. ‘I call on our Government reverse planned cuts to aid in the May budget’
    • Try and finish your letter with a neat, punchy, positive line that ties the whole letter together. This takes practice! E.g. ‘I believe we can.’ Or ‘That’s a legacy our generation could be proud of’

If your letter is published

  • Well done!
  • Send a copy to your group leader, and/or info@results.org.au
  • Send a copy to your MP or any Senator you have been corresponding with
  • Share it on social media and encourage others to write too

To increase your chances of getting published

  • Check the submission guidelines or tips for the newspaper
  • Keep it short – less than 180 words
  • Respond quickly to an article, letter, or hot topic
  • Include your full name, address, and phone number
  • Be respectful – never use bad language or insult someone
  • Check your letter for spelling and grammar errors
  • If emailing your letter, send it in the body of the email, not as an attachment
  • Don’t be afraid to ring to check if your letter has been received
  • Put effort into an eye-catching subject line if you are emailing
  • Look at the type of letters that get published in the paper already – do they tend to be long, short, controversial, intelligent?
  • Make it unqiue; Include your own story and frame it around your experiences
  • If it is a local paper, insert yourself and your issue into the local community

Make your letter work for you

  • Share it with your group leader and encourage others to write too
  • If you are responding to an article, look for similar articles in other papers (or even the exact same article!), change your letter somewhat, and respond to those papers too
  • If you do not get your letter published within a few days, alter your letter and send it again
  • Look for it! Make sure you check the newspaper you sent it to – sometimes letters are published 1-2 weeks after being sent
  • Consider posting your letter as a comment for an online news article if you don’t get published

How do I submit a letter?

  • Online – most newspapers have a submission form on their website. Look for the Letters page – it can be tricky to find – look for the Opinion or Comment section, as Letters are often on these pages. Sometimes it’ll be called Your Say or similar
  • Email – some newspapers require a submission by email. You will usually find the address by looking for the ‘Rules for submission’ on the Letters page on the website or in the newspaper itself
  • Text/Twitter – some newspapers publish a column of short text comments or tweets.
  • Comment – comments on online articles are becoming more powerful as they’re becoming more accessible. Be catchy, informed, get likes, and weigh in on the debate
  • If you can’t find where to submit your letter, RESULTS have compiled a list you can use

Remember: Each paper or magazine has a slightly different style.

Practice will get you published!

If you would like more help, our letter writing team is a great introduction into the world of letter writing! The newsletter provides you with relevant articles and tips on how to approach them in your letter. To receive the latest news articles to respond to, and be supported to write regular letters, join our Letter Writing Team!

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