PR Tips | Writing Quality Letters to the Editor

PR Tips | Writing Quality Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor are a great way to make an appearance in your favorite daily newspaper. The letters-to-the-editor page is among every newspaper’s most-read sections.

Further, several letters on various topics are published each day. A newspaper’s editorial page, by contrast, may feature just one guest op-ed — or even none, if it opts for popular syndicated content instead.

Letters follow some simple rules. Letters should respond to the news — usually to an article or opinion piece previously published by the newspaper. However, letters must also stand on their own. A reader should be able to understand a letter without having read the article to which it refers.

They should always be less than 150 words — and in the neighborhood of 100 is even better. Some of the most effective letters are short and pithy — just one or two sentences. And they should always feature a strong thesis, usually in the first or second sentence.

There are two main types of letters: those that disagree with a previously published piece and those that agree. In both cases, the letter should add to the debate. A letter that disputes a recent article may offer countervailing facts and figures that didn’t appear in the original piece.

A letter that offers kudos for a recent piece, meanwhile, may offer an additional argument that was absent from the article it’s applauding — or facts and stats that make the original point even stronger.

Finally, one more trick — an organization or person called out by name in an article or opinion piece usually has a free pass to respond on the letters page. So keep an eye out for those sorts of opportunities!

Of course, no post on letters to the editor is complete without the most famous one of all time.

Robby Schrum