Why submit your opinion to newspapers?
...because politicians pay attention to local papers.
The number one priority for Members of Congress are serving their constituent's needs, and the number one forum for voicing those needs are local newspapers. Representatives and their staff sift through district publications daily to see what community's want and where they stand on issues. The more Peace Corps can get in local papers, the more likely its issues are to be prioritized.
Submit Your Op-Ed
Tips & Talking Points
- What's an Op-Ed?: An op-ed is a persuasive piece published in the “Opinions and Editorials” section of a newspaper. It is typically a well reasoned yet passionate response to current news. Op-eds can reach a large audience, including representatives and others in a position to influence the Peace Corps.
- What's a Letter to the Editor?: A Letter to the Editor, or LTE, is a letter sent to a newspaper from a reader. Though not necessarily a response to a current event, LTEs can serve to bring attention to an issue not covered in the news.
- The Power of Persuasion: Newpapers, representatives, and the public are more likely to take your side of an issue through persuasive rather than confrontational tones.
- Local matters: Make sure that your letter is relevant to the communities the paper covers, e.g. tie in how Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) have served the local community, how many RPCVs there are, or any university-Peace Corps partnerships.
- Authority: Credibility can not only make for a more persuasive piece, but can likely open doors. If there's someone with authority—a leader of the local NPCA affiliate group—or someone with name recognition—an RPCV mayor—who can author or co-author the piece, see if they're interested.
- Name Your Rep(s): In almost all cases, if your letter includes a legislator’s name, their staff will give them the letter to read personally.
- Name the Issue: Of course, be clear about the issue your advocating for, e.g. the name of the bill or funding level.
- Go Inter/National: If applicable, discuss how the issue impacts America on a broader scale, e.g. national security, standing abroad, human rights.
- Be Timely: If you’re responding to a specific story or op-ed that ran in your paper, do so within two or three days of its publication (the sooner the better).
- Keep it Short, Focused and Interesting: In general, LTEs should be 150 words or less, and Op-Eds about 300 words, but check the quidelines on the paper's website. Stay focused on one (or, at the most, two) main point(s). Include interesting facts, relevant personal experience, and any local connections to the issue. Wrap your letter up by explaining what you think needs to happen now by making a call to action.
- Follow the Paper’s Directions: Information on guidelines, how and to whom to submit an LTE/Op-Ed is usually on the paper's website. Follow these guidelines to increase the likelihood that your letter will be printed. If you can’t find the information you need, call the paper.
- Include Your Contact Information: Be sure to include your name, address, and daytime phone number. The paper will contact you before printing your piece. Do not include attachments in your submission email.
- Copy Your Contacts: Know someone at the publication, or someone who does? Make sure you also submit your piece to them, which should give it a better chance of getting published.
- Share It!: Once published, share your piece on social media and with any relevant Congressional offices.
- Build Relationships: Your piece was published? Great! Send a thank you to your contact at the paper, invite them to a local Peace Corps event if possible, and at the very least—even if your piece wasn't published—keep in touch.