The humble letter to the editor can have a big impact. MPs and their staffers often trawl through this section of the local paper to find out the issues that people are talking about in their community.
Tips for writing your letter
- Keep on topic. Choose the idea you want to convey and stick to it. Get straight to the point, and only include essential information.
- Keep it brief. Aim for 150 words, most papers won’t print anything more than 200 words.
- Keep it local. Explaining how this issue will affect your local community will increase the chances of having your letter published.
- Keep it polite. Your letter can be strong, but avoid aggressive or offensive language that might make your MP dismiss your letter.
- Keep it to one publication. A newspaper will be more likely to publish your letter if they know it won’t be published anywhere else.
- Keep it relevant. If the paper has recently published a story on the issue, make sure you refer to it in your letter.
- Keep it personal. Use your own words, and if you can, include a relevant personal story.
- Proofread. Proofread. If there’s one thing that will lessen your chances of being published, it’s spelling and grammatical errors. Get someone else to read it before you send it off.
- Include your contact details. The publication will want to verify who you are before publishing your letter, so it’s a good idea to mention:
- Your name
- Your address (street name, suburb, and postcode)
- Your contact number
- Your email address
How to write your letter
Step 1: Choose the the right newspaper
Which newspaper is your MP most likely to read? Look up the word limit for letters to the editor for that particular newspaper, the submission deadline, and the email address or website form where you should submit your letter.
Step 2: Personalise the letter
Think about how to make this relevant to you and your local community. Do you have a relevant personal story about how the issue would affect you, or someone you know? What is it about this issue that has you riled up? What’s the change you want to see?
Step 3: Call for action
If your MP has already spoken against the laws, make sure to mention this in your letter and thank them for taking a stand. If they haven’t, encourage them to do so.
Step 4: Send it in!
You’ve drafted your letter, now it’s time to submit it. Some papers will ask you to copy your letter into the body of an email while others will require you to use their website form. Whatever the format, be sure to include your contact details, including your real name, address and phone number. Most publications won’t publish your letter without this.
Share your letter with us!
If you’re letter gets published, please make sure to snap a photo of it and send it in to: firstname.lastname@example.org