If the newspaper runs a story promoting a local furrier
or touting the circus,
don't just fume -- tell them how you feel with a letter to the editor.
thousands of readers if your letter gets printed -- you don't have to be
10 Steps to Writing an Effective Letter
According to former Congressperson Billy Evan (D-Ga.), "Legislators
that 10 letters from constituents represent the concerns of 10,000
And a letter to the editor has the potential to reach anywhere from
1. Be concise. Editors are less likely to print long
letters. One short paragraph
may be enough. Always try to stay under one typed page.
2. Be polite.
3. Be precise. If you're responding to an article in the
paper, say when it
appeared and its title. For a bill, mention the bill's name and number,
you know it, and say whether you support or oppose it. State what you
want officials to do: e.g., vote a certain way, co-sponsor a bill,
legislation, or just let you know their position on an issue. Make sure
ask for a response.
After Dr. Ned Buyukmihci wrote to Home Depot about rats and mice
suffering in glue traps, the company informed him consumer demand
obligated them to stock the cruel devices. Ned wrote again, pointing out
that customer demand is no justification for cruelty. Home Depot agreed
stop carrying glue traps and thanked him for providing the info that led
to their decision.
4. Don't be afraid to make the letter personal. Explain
how your experience,
observations, or faith shape the concern you have. (Legislators want
back from voters as individuals, not as members of organizations.) And
don't forget to include your name, address and a contact phone number.
5. Be ready! Watch the paper. Ads for rodeos, circuses,
and fur stores;
articles about animal experiments; features on science fairs or other
activities involving animals; cooking columns; and features about com-
panion animal care are good opportunities to write in with a message of
6. Write about the good as well as the bad. Thank the
paper for coverage of
an anti-fur protest or for a pro-animal feature.
7. Be topical. Let the calendar inspire you. In the
fall, as students go back to
school, write about dissection. At year's end, when people are giving to
charity, write about charities that do and that don't fund animal tests.
The governor of Virginia vetoed a
bill putting a bounty on coyotes
because he received so much
mail against it.
8. Increase your credibility by mentioning anything that
makes you especially
qualified to write on a topic: For instance, "As a nutritionist, I know
diet is healthy," or, "as a mother," or, "as a former fur-wearer," or,
cancer survivor," etc.
9. Name a specific action readers can take, such as
avoiding eggs, choosing
a non-animal circus, or boycotting products tested on animals.
10. Don't assume your audience knows the issues. Rather
"Don't support the cruel dairy industry," explain that mother cows are
treated as milk machines, chained by their necks in concrete stalls for
months at a time and kept constantly pregnant to keep milk production
and finally... Multiply your efforts by throwing a
letter-writing party. Have plenty
of pens, paper, envelops, stamps, and vegan snacks on hand.
In the writing mood?
For up-to-the-minute action alerts, complete with contact info, call
Action Hotline at 757-622-PETA, available 24 hours a day, seven days a
Or check out PETA's "Letters of the Moment" on our Web site, at
Write for PETA's free brochure, "The PETA Guide to
Letter Writing: How to
Flex Your Activist Muscle From Your Armchair."
Make Your Pen Count: Consumer Clout
* Letters to businesses have prompted dozens of companies -- including
Spiegel, Eddie Bauer, and Ladies' Home Journal -- to stop selling or
away fur and countless others to stop testing their products on animals.
* Tell stores that sell live animals that you won't shop
there until they stop, and
explain why. Voice your objection to restaurants and stores that have
The Today Show reported that it
received more angry mail on its
show about how to kill lobsters than
any other segment!
* Write to manufacturers of cosmetics and household
products that still
experiment on animals and let them know you will purchase other brands
they declare a permanent ban on animal testing. (Contact PETA for a free
list of company addresses.)
* If a business offers a fur as a prize, explain why you
object to furs and ask
the sponsor to offer a prize that does not represent animal cruelty,
such as a
trip or jewelry.
by People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals
Go on to Blazing
Cruelty - But Spanish Go Crazy For It
Return to 24 March 1999 Issue
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