Advocacy

Write a letter to the editor

A letter to the editor of your local newspaper can be very effective at increasing public awareness of an issue important to your community. Furthermore, members of Congress keep up with news back in their home states or districts, and placing a letter to the editor is one more way to catch the eye of a legislator.

Step 1: Find a newspaper in your area

Wikipedia has a good list of local and regional newspapers. Search the newspaper’s website for letter-to-the-editor submission guidelines.

Step 2: Outline your letter

A letter to the editor should be short, so focus on a single topic. State your position early, clearly and concisely. Provide evidence to support your position. Anticipate and respond to potential objections. Use metacommentary or caveats to be sure you’re not misunderstood.

Step 3: Get feedback and revise

You can send your draft to the ASBMB public affairs staff for feedback. Revise as you see fit.

Step 4: Submit your letter

Keep in mind that newspapers receive many more letters than they can print. Don’t be disappointed if yours is not published.

Step 5: Repeat

Do it again! Making convincing arguments in writing can be difficult. It takes practice.

Other toolkit topics

Call your legislator

How to find your legislator's number, and what to say.

Do’s and don’ts for communicating with legislators

Do’s and don’ts for communicating with legislators

Helpful tips to make your meetings effective.

Meet with your legislators in person

Communicating directly with your elected officials is an important way to make your voice heard.

Prepare a lab tour for your legislators

Hosting a member of Congress at your institution is an excellent way to demonstrate the importance of federal funding for scientific research.

Write a letter to your legislator

A letter or email is the most popular choice of communication with a congressional office.