Media Relations: How to Get Your Letter to the Editor Published

You may remember Forrest Gump's Vietnam pal ? the one who grew up shrimp farming and was fond of listing the dishes he used to make. "Pepper shrimp," he started, gearing up for his lengthy monotone monologue. "Shrimp soup. Shrimp stew. Shrimp salad. Shrimp and potatoes. Shrimp burger."

That was the first thing I thought of when I saw the front page of The Washington Post's Food section last February. Staring up at me was a half-page photo filled with all sorts of yummy-looking prepared shrimp. The delectable photo was followed by two pages of text glorifying the tasty creature.

But missing from the article was any mention of the environmental concerns about shrimp. For example, the capture of only one pound of shrimp in the ocean kills more than 10 pounds of other marine life, which just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

At the time, I was working with an environmental group. We quickly moved into action. I called a scientist with whom I worked frequently. We drafted a fact-filled two paragraph letter to the editor and submitted it to The Post. It was published the next week, one of the rare letters to appear regarding an article in the Food section.

How did we break through the hundreds of other letters submitted to the Post each day ? and more importantly, how can you? Here are seven rules to getting your letter published.

1. Act Quickly. We had our letter in the hands of the Post within 24 hours of the article's publication. The quicker you submit your letter, the greater your chances of being published.

2. Know the Rules. Most news organizations post the rules for letter submissions ? including preferred length and method of delivery ? on their websites.

3. Be Concise. Most newspapers will run letters no longer than three paragraphs in length. If you don't edit your letter, the news organization will either decline to run it or will edit it for you. Maintain control of your words by keeping your letter short.

4. Keep it Simple. Letters to the editor aren't places for complicated jargon. Your letter should be self-contained, meaning it's understandable to readers who missed the original article.

5. Take a Stand / Issue a Call to Action. Editors like letters that take a strong position. Be direct, controversial, or adversarial, and tell readers what you want them to do ? it enhances your likelihood of getting published.

6. Localize. Most newspapers are considered local or regional. If your letter concerns something larger in scope, give a relevant example. For instance, if you're writing about your concern over global warming, explain how the effects of climate change would affect the local community.

7. Follow-Up. Most letters pages get an influx of new letters each day. Placing a phone call to your newspaper's letters desk often gets it removed from the bottom of the pile.

In reality, most letters won't contain all of the above ingredients, but they should include as many as possible. The Washington Post letter we successfully placed contained six of the seven; we failed to make it local since the original story was global in nature.

As an example, the published letter is below:

EXAMPLE OF A PUBLISHED LETTER TO THE EDITOR

"Your recent article 'So Much Shrimp' [Food, Feb. 25] failed to mention the tremendous environmental costs associated with shrimp fishing. Each pound of wild shrimp caught causes the death of 10 or more pounds of other marine life. This 'by-catch' is simply tossed back into the ocean. Shrimp fisheries are responsible for more than 11 million tons of by-catch deaths annually. When shrimp trawlers drag their heavy nets across the ocean floor, they destroy coral reefs, sea grasses and other marine life; flatten terrain; and kill numerous fish, turtles, starfish and crabs, among other creatures.

New techniques for farming shrimp are beginning to resolve issues relating to pollution, genetic contamination, disease, and destruction of natural coastal mangroves and wetlands that have long plagued aquaculture operations. Consumers can help by learning about the economic and environmental costs on destructive fishing and fish farming."

Signed,
Sylvia Earle
Executive Director, Global Marine Program, Conservation International

Brad Phillips is the founder and president of Phillips Media Relations. He was formerly a journalist for ABC News and CNN, and headed the media relations department for the second largest environmental group in the world.

For more information and to sign up for free monthly media relations and media training e-tips, visit http://www.PhillipsMediaRelations.com.

In The News:

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news

CNN

Corker: North Korea pulled good PR move
CNN
JUST WATCHED. Corker: North Korea pulled good PR move. Replay. More Videos ... MUST WATCH. Playing on. Play Video. Play MuteMute. Current Time 0:00. /. Duration Time 0:00. Loaded: 0%. 0:00. Progress: 0%. 0:00. Progress: 0%. Live. Remaining Time -0:00 ...


CNNMoney

How major companies handle - and botch - public relations crises
CNNMoney
Before Southwest and Starbucks came Equifax (EFX), Facebook (FB), United Airlines (UAL) and Wells Fargo (WFC). Each of these companies has had to navigate a public relations crisis over the past year and a half. Some have been more successful than ...

and more »

Deadline

Slate PR Promotes 10 Across Team
Deadline
“We are very excited to be recognizing the outstanding work of these team members with these well-deserved promotions,” the Slate PR partners said. “Not only are all of these folks incredibly talented and hard-working executives, they also have great ...


Bitcoin News (press release)

PR: Bitcoin of America Opening New BTMs in 5 Major U.S. Cities ...
Bitcoin News (press release)
Chicago, IL: Bitcoin of America is happy to announce that they will be expanding their services in five major U.S. cities during the next four months. The company, which is headquartered in Chicago, IL, will be opening new Bitcoin Teller Machines ...

and more »

MLive.com

Lambert Edwards buys New York PR firm
MLive.com
GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Lambert, Edwards & Associates is bolstering its national presence with the purchase of a New York financial public relations firm, Owen Blicksilver Public Relations, Inc. The deal announced this week moves LE&A from a Midwest player ...


Forbes

13 Proven Tactics For Getting Free PR
Forbes
For most modern PR professionals, the goal is to get their clients earned media -- press mentions, news features, TV and radio segments, etc. that don't cost anything other than their time and knowledge. These media placements can drive significant ...


InsideSources

Pulitzer Prize Winners Moving to PR: What Does That Say About the ...
InsideSources
The Pulitzer Prize is the ultimate accolade of American journalism, the mark of the best of the best, or perhaps, the culmination of a lifetime of effort in the field. A few publications win more than their fair share–the Boston Globe, the New York ...

and more »

Slate Magazine

Why the Starbucks Racial Bias Training Is More Than Just Good PR
Slate Magazine
For Starbucks, racism isn't just bad PR: It's an existential threat to the entire business model. The job of a Starbucks manager, then, is to constantly be aware of social interactions in the store, and to try to keep it as welcoming as possible to as ...
Anatomy of a PR response: How Starbucks is handling its Philadelphia crisisWashington Post
Starbucks to Close All U.S. Stores for Racial-Bias Education | Starbucks NewsroomStarbucks Newsroom
Unconscious Bias | diversity.ucsf.eduUCSF Office of Diversity and Outreach
TeenVogue.com
all 618 news articles »

CNN

Most of Puerto Rico still without power
CNN
(CNN) With most of Puerto Rico in the dark Wednesday night, Gov. Ricardo Rossello said in a tweet that he has suggested Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority cancel its contract with a subcontractor that caused an island-wide power outage. An ...
In Puerto Rico, Stadium Lights Glow, Homes Do NotNew York Times
Puerto Rico Series coverageMLB.com
Puerto Rico Loses Power — AgainNPR
AccuWeather.com -Bloomberg -NBCNews.com
all 689 news articles »

Morris Posts PR in Steeplechase at War Eagle Invitational
GoMocs.com
AUBURN, Ala. --- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga runner Haley Morris led a strong showing for the Mocs with a PR in the 3000 meter Steeplechase at the War Eagle Invitational hosted by Auburn University. "We had another good day with Haley ...

Google News

This is the Power of PR

The power of public relations is its ability to alter... Read More

Can Small PR Firms Deliver Huge Results?

They can when they invest in the basics. The best... Read More

6 Essentials for Doing Your Own PR: Guest Author

Today's issue of Lean Marketing Champions features tips on doing... Read More

There Is No Such Thing as Competition

A wise friend of mine has often said, "There is... Read More

Sound Like Your Situation?

What a shame! Potentially productive public relations people resting on... Read More

Did You Know That Even TV Remote Control Units Can Get Press and Media Coverage?

Did you Know That Even TV Remote Control Units... Read More

The Truth About Public Relations

The truth is, you CAN attract the support of those... Read More

Media Training: How to Tell a More Interesting Story

PRESIDENT BUSH TELLS A STORYOn March 18, 2005, President Bush... Read More

Dont Get Eaten Alive!

If you don't have a grip on public relations, how... Read More

Public Relations

The wind of changes...The digital world has changed the form... Read More

Media Exposure Validates And Legitimizes Your Business

Although repetition is extremely important, there are times when advertising... Read More

Radio Interviews - How To Get Them!

Getting on the radio can be a great tactical move... Read More

The Press Release: How to Get the Media to Pay Attention!

As many of you already know, promoting and marketing your... Read More

Nows The Time To Get Christmas Media Coverage

Publicity seekers know that Christmas can provide a bonanza of... Read More

Public Relations Writing: Write Better Press Release Headlines With More Impact in Less Time

Public relations writing when writing press releases can be a... Read More

Publicity - Use This System to Track Publicity Progress

Tracking your correspondence with reporters, via phone or email, is... Read More

Promote Your Products With A Press Release

Writing an effective press release is a way to draw... Read More

Make Front Page News By NOT Inviting The Media

Not a single reporter showed up at our news event.... Read More

Talk Radio Success

You do not have to hire a publicist or advertise... Read More

Pressure From the Top?

Yes, and that pressure often comes from a CEO who... Read More

Public Relations Strategies: Announcing News on a Press Tour

Gaining news coverage on a successful press tour requires planning,... Read More

The Power of Radio - Tips for Great Radio Interviews

Many people are intimidated by radio interviews, whether live or... Read More

How to Write a Media Release That Wins You Coverage & Exposure

The Today show? The New York Times? Vanity Fair? What's... Read More

Media Training: Stop Talking, Already!

THE TWO MINUTES UNDERDOGEdward Everett was one of the most... Read More

What Some Pros Know About PR

They know they had better do something positive about those... Read More