OT Month Activity Idea: Writing a Letter to the Editor

By Katie Riley posted 12 days ago

  

Thinking of promoting OT in the news media in honor of OT Month, but short on time? A letter to the editor of your local news outlet is a simple way to spread the word about OT.

Letters to the editor take less time than other media activities because the goal is to be brief. Most news outlets have a word limit (sometimes as short as 100 words!) so you do not need to be a wordsmith to tackle this project.

There are several different approaches to the angle of your LTE. Here are a few recent examples form AOTA members:typing.jpg

Explain OT in general

Letters in response to current news topic

  • Occupational therapy can help opioid addiction, written by Nicole Saba for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (February 5, 2019) is in response to a story about the opioid crisis that fails to mention OT.
  • In a LTE titled, Hospital price lists, in The Tribune (February 12, 2019), Lexy Zelczak explains that while OT can be pricey, it can reduce future hospitalizations that can cost more money and time.
  • And in Therapy is more beneficial than therapy in schools, written by Andrew Wilford for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (February 12, 2019) argues that occupational therapy can help students to be more successful than consequences for poor choices.

Letters that address an inaccuracy or omission

Here are some tips to create a LTE that will catch the eye of editors:

  • Craft a punchy headline. Be truthful, but get creative!
  • Be brief and to the point. A long letter and a short letter may both grab readers’ attention, however, the shorter one is more likely to be read in full.
  • Remember your audience. Do not use jargon that the general public will not understand. Be sure to explain your message simply.
  • Relate your message to recent news. Letters that are in direct response to a previous article or letter are more likely to be published (some publications REQUIRE it). Be sure to cite the article’s title and publication date in your submission so the editor knows exactly what you are talking about.
  • Include your name. Only under extreme circumstances are anonymous letters published. Be sure to include your full name and city of residence for publication.
  • Send your letter via e-mail (unless otherwise specified). If an editorial assistant does not have to retype it, this could mean a quicker turnaround.
  • Provide your contact information. Most news outlets will not print submissions without first verifying that you are an actual human being. Be sure to leave both a phone number and e-mail address so that the editor can verify the letter, discuss edits, and ask questions, if any. Be sure to check the newspaper’s guidelines – some have more specific requirements.

Additionally, I have developed a template letter to help get you started. If you are interested in seeing it or getting some help crafting a response, contact me at kriley@aota.org.

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Comments

4 days ago

​And we also need to add this- I think this is the grand mommy of all OT TEDx and TED talks. This is by Denise Rotert in 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mm6MqymTeAs

5 days ago

​Another idea I come up with that can be outside the box way to promote OT-OTA partnership. How about having an entry level OTD student curate a TEDx event, and then students from a nearby local OTA program can be part of the planning team and volunteers that the students need to make the event successful. Yes- the capstone coordinator will always have to be the licensee in this case (for continuity purposes). But, the entry level OTD student will be completely responsible for overseeing the project, as well as covering any financial deficits if the event incurs such. The role of the OTD capstone coordinators in this case is to not only educate themselves on TEDx event guidelines, but also making sure the OTD student is following, too!​

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