Letters to the Editor (LTE) – Tips and Talking Points

A letter to the editor is an effective way to disseminate our message about the importance of voting YES for Open Space this fall. Thousands of Missoula County residents read the newspapers every day. Letter to the editor also provide sharable content for online social media as well. Here are some instructions, tips and talking points for writing and submitting LTE’s.

Example Talking Points

(Please put into your own words, and add a personal story or specifics – e.g. you favorite hike on open space land):

  • Missoula County residents have a tradition of protecting and caring for our open space, water and family farms and ranches.

  • Access to rivers and trails are major part of our quality of life.

  • Publicly accessible open space provides healthy recreational opportunities, and it’s also a major attractor to business looking to invest in Missoula County.

  • But the 2006 open space bond funds are nearly gone, and there is still critical conservation work to do to protect land, water and farmland for future generations.

  • Passing a renewed county Open Space Bond and a City Stewardship Levy ensures we can protect our quality of life, access to rivers and trails, and our agricultural heritage as Missoula County continues to grow into the future.

  • Open Space conservation is a good investment: the last open space bond leveraged an additional $4 for every local dollar spent.

  • A renewed Open Space Bond and a City Stewardship Levy can buffer developed areas from wildfire by reducing residential development on forested land adjacent to public lands.

  • A renewed Open Space Bond and a City Stewardship Levy can help protect our County’s water resources, while providing new access to the Clark Fork River.

  • Suggested Closing: Please Vote YES for the County Open Space Bond and the City Stewardship Levy to help protect our quality of life, access to rivers and trails, and our agricultural heritage as Missoula County continues to grow into the future! To learn more, visit www.YesForOpenSpace.org

General Tips and to-dos:

  • Get personal—Tell a personal story about your connection to open space. For example, if you or your family have recently hiked on open space land, reference these experiences in your letter.

  • Be timely--Responding to a current issue or a recent article or column is one of the best ways to increase your chances of getting published. Be sure to mention the name of the article and the date it was written in the beginning of your letter.

  • Get a new signer--Most newspapers won't print multiple letters from one person over a short period of time. If you've already published a letter, get someone else to sign future ones.

  • Keep it short and simple--Keep your points short and clear, and stick to one subject. Make your first sentence short, compelling and catchy. Keep it well under the word limit.

Sending your Letter:

  • Paste your final letter into the body of an email (don’t send as an attachment).

  • Put the editor’s email address in the “To” field.

  • Put “letter to the editor—Open Space” in the “Subject” line.

  • The salutation should read, “Dear editor,” and then be followed by your letter.

  • Make sure to include your name, address and phone number with the letter. The papers will only print your name and city, but editors must call you to confirm authorship before running a letter.

  • If your letter doesn’t appear, don’t be afraid to call the opinion page editor after a few days to ask whether it will run.

Newspaper submission info:

Missoulian, oped@missoulian.com (200 word limit)

Follow up: once your letter is published, please post the link to your Facebook page to further expand your audience! Also, tweet it to your network if you are on Twitter.

Feel free to contact us if you have questions or need help with your letter. Thank you!