Letter To The Editor

Letters to the editor are an effective way to respond to an issue taking place in your community or to make a more broad call to action, as in the sample letter attached. Each publication will have its own policy for choosing which letters to print, so check and follow the guidelines closely. However, there are some common best practices for submitting letters to the editor.

  1. Keep it brief. Generally speaking, try to stay under 150 words.
  2. Have a news hook. Letters are most interesting to editors and readers when they are in response to something taking place in the community. That could be Arbor Day, Earth Day, a severe weather event that takes out a number of trees, a community tree planting that meets a long-established goal, or even a record-breaking heat wave. The idea is to make the letter timely and relevant.
  3. Keep it local. Newspapers and other local publications are most interested in publishing letters that relate directly to something in the community, so to the extent possible focus on facts and figures that are derived from local sources, or relate directly to local issues.
  4. Keep it unique. Although letter-writing campaigns can sometimes be effective, they just as often backfire. Publications tend to be looking for unique viewpoints, and are generally wary of “mass-produced” campaign materials.
  5. Do not follow up. Unless you receive instructions otherwise, there is generally no value in following up on a letter to the editor. Most newspapers receive hundreds each week, and only contact authors if they’re going to run them.

This Sample Letter to the Editor uses Arbor Day as a news hook and opportunity to discuss the benefits of trees. This is just one example of using a holiday, event or initiative to present urban forests as relevant to an editor, and the community.

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