2.3.4 Letters to the Editor

Local media is one of the most important advocacy tools at your disposal. Writing a letter to the editor is one of the easiest ways to get your message and call to action to Ottawa residents. A letter to the Editor is a short letter you write to the newspaper in response to news story that appeared in the paper. Your letter can offer praise, criticism and/or more information. The Letters to the Editor page is the second most read page of the newspaper! Politicians use it to gage public opinion.

Follow these tips and you’ll be able to make it work for your group/agency.

  • Keep it short (300 words is good, 150 is better and 50 is best).
  • Focus on your strongest argument. Get across one strong point.
  • Expect to be edited for length, grammar and to fit the paper’s style.
  • Send the letter right away after reading the article to which you’re responding. Refer to a previously published article.
  • Write while people are still talking about the issue.
  • Keep it simple and clear.
  • Localize the issue, be specific and brief. Length and format requirements vary from paper to paper.
  • Be accurate. One mistake damages your credibility.
  • Include your full name and phone number with the letter. Expect a call from the newspaper to confirm your identity.
  • Instructions for submitting a letter to the editor are usually at the bottom of the page where they appear or on the paper’s Web site.
  • Follow up. If you have sent your letter to the editor and have not heard anything within a week, make a follow-up call to check on its status. Be aware that editors receive hundreds of letters and may not immediately respond to you.


See Appendix H for a sample letter to the editor.