How to Write a Letter
Here's all about How to Write a Letter, E-mails, postcards, phone calls and more. Just follow steps below I hope will help you.
A important note: letters sent via snail mail or even fax, carry more weight than calls and emails.
Writing to MPs and councillors:
1. It is important that we tell elected officials and other leaders where we stand on issues. Our input on water supplies and use, suburban sprawl into bushland, biodiversity, urban transport options, reducing climate change, human population and other issues shapes the way our representatives create and implement environmental and social policy.
2. E-mails, postcards, and phone calls are good communication tools, but letters (and to some extent faxes) remain the most effective and persuasive way of communicating our views to elected officials and leaders.
- Keep it short.
- Limit your letter to one page and one issue.
- Identify yourself and the issue.
- In the first paragraph of your letter state who you are and what issue you are writing about.
- If you are referring to specific legislation, identify it by its correct title.
- Focus on your main points.
3. Choose the three strongest points to support your argument and develop them clearly. Too much information can distract from your position. Prune your draft letter of less relevant material and use that pruned material as the centerpiece of another letter.
4. Make it personal: refer to a member’s electorate or State, to your suburb, point to the addressee’s past statements, their party’s positions, their previous reply to a previous letter, local problems and events etc. This may require research and verification rather than trusting to vague memory.
- Tell the addressee why the issue matters to you and how it affects you, your family, and your community.
- Make a connection to the addressee. Did you vote for them? Did you contribute to the campaign?
- Include your name and address on both your letter and envelope.
5. Be polite and take a firm position in your letter. Be confident in your understanding of the issue and remember that the addressee may know less than you or that they may not yet have firm views. Thank a member of parliament or councillor when they vote the way you want.
- Ask for a reply.
- When the reply comes, do not be put off if it is bland or indicates that your first letter was either not read or it was misunderstood.
- Use the reply as an opportunity for a second letter which you can now focus using the information in the reply.
6. Remember, most letters to MPs and, especially, ministers, are not read by the addressee. (Ministers will often look more closely at letters from their own constituents). However, MPs will generally read the reply their staffer has given them to sign. This is another reason to consider a second letter which has a better chance, if it draws politely but firmly on their reply, of being read personally by the addressee.
- Keep it short.
7. Letters to the editor are one of the most widely read sections of the newspaper.
8. They allow community members to comment on the way issues are being addressed in the media and to influence what topics the local paper covers.
9. MPs usually monitor this section of the newspaper and take notice of constituents’ opinions. Due to strict space limitations in newspapers, not all letters are published, but the more letters the newspaper receives on a certain topic, the more likely they are to run at least one letter on the topic.
10. Check the letter guidelines in your local paper and use these tips to write an effective letter to the editor:
- Keep it short and focused. Keep paragraphs brief.
- Many newspapers have strict length limits and edit letters for space. A concise, single-issue letter has a better chance of being published and keeping the reader’s interest.
- Make specific references.
11. Although some newspapers will print general letters, most prefer letters that respond promptly to a specific article. Here are some ways to refer to an article:
I was impressed by the comprehensive water conservation solution outlined in the 5 May article, ‘Fresh ideas on grey water’.
I strongly disagree with Minister Jackson’s position against restrictions on land clearing (SMH, 5 May, page 6)
- Be factual and highlight aspects of the issue that haven’t been previously addressed.
- Don’t slander or use sarcasm, rage or wild assertions.
- Include your contact information: name, address, e-mail address and daytime phone number. Most newspapers will publish a letter to the editor only after verifying the author’s contact information. When printed, the letter will usually only include your name and suburb or town.
- Type your letter and sign it or send it by e-mail.
- Do not send the same letter to different newspapers. If you want to have a letter published in more than one paper, write markedly different letters.
- Send letters to smaller newspapers. They have a better chance of being published than letters to capital city or national papers.
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