Change the Conversation
Short of face-to-face visits with politicians, getting in the habit of writing to your paper is one of the most effective things you can do.
According to a recent study by Pew, Americans are spending more time following the news today than over much of the past decade. Newspapers, while in decline, remain authoritative; this is where most Americans still get their knowledge of public affairs.
"What's my motivation?"
In a word, leverage. Decisionmakers and influencers in particular read the opinion and letters pages of major and local papers alike to take a pulse on public opinion. For this reason, Op-Ed columns and letters to the editor are particularly powerful ways to change the conversation about issues that matter by shaping or framing the debate in your own words.
An Op-Ed is a column or guest essay published in the opinion section of a newspaper (Opposite the Editorial page). While it can be difficult to win space on this prime newspaper real estate, Op-Eds can carry tremendous weight and are worth the effort. “LTE’s,” or letters to the editor, are much easier to get in the paper, and require less preparation as they are very short. LTE's are also very important.
Once you land an LTE or OpEd on one of PAN's issues, be sure to send it to us so we can help to make your success even more public. Below are some resources to get you started:
Communications Consortium Media Center, Tips, Tools & Trends
The Frameworks Institue, How to Talk Food Systems
The Foundation Center, Communications for Social Good
Matthew Nisbet, What's Next for Science Communications?