A letter to the editor can be another effective tool in influencing legislators' views and opinions on issues impacting ophthalmology.
Getting an article published in your local newspaper broadens your audience and puts a spotlight on your issue. Letters to the editor can provide readers with information and insights on issues with which they may be unfamiliar and can inspire readers to take action. Here are a few tips to draft an effective letter to the editor:
Keep it brief — Keep letters short (up to 250 words) and discuss only one issue in the letter. It will help ensure that the newspaper does not edit out important points.
Get to the point — Start with a strong and compelling introductory sentence. Follow the introduction with short, clear and factual points. Back up your statements with facts and data. Reach out to Academy staff to provide fact sheets. Focus on key points rather than trying to address every aspect of the issue.
Relate it to home — Readers care about how an issue will impact them or their families locally. Including brief information on the economic or other impacts of an issue in the community will draw readers' interest.
End with a call to action — Ask readers to take action by calling on policymakers to address the issue.
Be timely — Try to place letters when they will be most effective. For example, letters supporting or opposing legislation will have the most impact when legislators are considering the issue.
Be professional — Letters should be typed and should follow the submission rules of your local newspaper. Many accept electronic submissions on their websites. Language should be polite but persuasive.
Identify yourself — Sign the letter. Include information highlighting your expertise on the issue. Provide contact information, including an address and daytime phone number so the newspaper can verify the letter's authenticity.
Contact Megan Tweed, the Academy's grassroots coordinator, with any questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.