The Letters page is one of the most popular sections of any newspaper,
and is therefore an ideal way to keep your name and your core message
in front of the public.
Use every possibility that arises to write a letter to the editor,
and urge your supporters to do the same. The general rule is that
one letter on a subject is usually ignored unless the Letters' Editor
feels it is especially significant. Two or three letters on the
same subject cause the Editor to put them aside and consider running
the best one, and five or more letters amount to a mandate to publish
at least one.
Letters must be personally written, as form letters with different
signatures are quickly recognized and discarded. Letters should
be brief, typed and signed, with the full name, address, and telephone
number of the writer typed beneath the signature. Addresses and
telephone numbers are not published but are essential so that the
Editor can verify that the letter is authentic. If you're especially
concerned about including this information, put it in parentheses
and indicate clearly "Not for Publication".
Give each of your supporters your identifying statement, along
with a descriptive paragraph containing a few more significant details
(such as the date of the organization's founding, some recent accomplishments,
a high-profile sponsor or honourary Board member). These should
be used in every letter, although the rest of the letter should
be in the writer's own words.
Begin each letter with a reference to the news or feature article
which provoked the comment, along with its date of publication,
and try to make a positive comment, even if you follow it with reservations.
A good letter to the editor:
· begins with a positive or neutral statement
· is fair and moderate in its criticism of the paper or reporter
· avoids strong pejorative language concerning the issue
on the opposite side of the paper or the reporter
· uses simple sentence structure and active verbs
· employs laymen's language
· offers some new information of interest to the readers
· keeps to one major point
· is not longer than 250 words
· closes politely, perhaps suggesting a possible course of
action for the paper or its readers
· is typed with full name and title below signature along
with complete address and telephone number
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of "Five Fast Steps
to Better Writing", "Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity"
and "Mewsings/Musings". Her Web site is www.SimonTeakettle.com.
forget to write