In our media-saturated society, it is critical for activists to know how to use print and online publications, radio, television, and other forms of mass communication to further their aims.

This section of Big Wildlife's guide focuses primarily on promoting wildlife-friendly messages through newspapers, since they are, in general, more easily accessed by grassroots activists than radio or television. Advocates should also, however, investigate opportunities to reach the public in other ways, such as radio call-in shows, public service announcements, on-air editorials, community radio, or local public access cable stations.

The letters to the editor section of your local newspaper presents an ideal forum for getting your message to its readers, be they local citizens or members of your congressional or state legislative delegation. More people read the letters to the editor section than any other part of the newspaper except the front page. Writing a letter to the editor is easy. Here are a few guidelines for getting your letter to the editor printed.

*Keep your letter short and to the point – 250 words maximum.

*Writing on behalf of your organization can give your letter more weight.

*Avoid rambling sentences and big words

*Type your letter. If possible, send via e-mail. Newspapers prefer e-mail letters because they don’t need to be manually entered into their computer system. Check your newspaper or its website for guidelines on how to submit a letter.

*Limit the number of points you make and stay on message.

*Localize your letter – if relevant, explain how the issue will affect wildlife in your area 

*Encourage your family and friends to write letters to the editor about the issue your concerned about. If you flood your local paper with letters, the paper will likely print them. As a result, you help raise the visibility about your wildlife issue.

Your letter stands the best chance of getting published when it responds to something recently printed in the newspaper, such as a news story, column, editorial, advertisement, or another letter. You can use the reference to that item as a springboard for stating your case. Your letter can support and expand on something already in the news, make a point that was omitted, or disagree with and correct misinformation in whatever form it appeared. And don’t be afraid to ask for action – tell readers what you want them to do. This includes your elected officials. You can be sure they read the letters to the editor. By putting their names in the letter and calling for action – a vote, opposing legislation – you get their attention fast.

Click here to learn more about influencing the editorial page.