Press releases, open letters, editorials & letters to the editor — these are common ways individuals and organizations meet their goals.
- Press releases are published by a company (Petco, BestBuy), nonprofit (UN, Doctors without Borders), and firms (firms refers to financial and legal entities like Goldman Sachs or Proskauer Rose). Historically, these are sent to journalists (hence the name press release). Nowadays, they are also sent to influencers like bloggers, podcasters, TikTok and Instagram personas. Ultimately, the goal is to get people talking about an important move within an organization. Press releases can be posted on the company’s website or blog or sent directly to journalists found through sites like Cisionpoint and Muck Rack. For major events, wins, or product launches, organizations may want to pay a public relations (PR) firm like Channel V Media or use a less expensive distribution service like PR Distribution to really spread the word. To write a press release, review Shopify’s comprehensive guide here.
- Open letters can be thought of as overheard conversations. They’re typically from an individual talking to another person they know, a prominent person they don’t know, or a group they want on their side. Some of my favorites are James Baldwin writing to Angela Davis, and Bobby Henderson’s “Open Letter to the Kansas School Board.” Authors publish open letters to convince others to join their perspective or to compel a social change. Other famous examples include Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” which made the case for civil disobedience among church leaders; Emile Zola’s “J’accuse!,” which charged the French president with anti-Semitism ; and Siegfried Sassoon’s “A Solder’s Declaration,” which called for the end of WWI.
I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.
On behalf of those who are suffering now I make this protest against the deception which is being practised upon them: also I believe it may help to destroy the callous complacence with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realise.— Siegfried Sassoon, “A Soldier’s Declaration,” written on June 15, 1917
- Editorials are opinion-pieces that are similar to open letters, but they are published by the staff of a newspaper. As trained journalists who have reviewed copious amounts of original data, these pieces are typically well-informed and carry weight, especially with headlines like “Resign, Senator Cruz. Your lies cost lives” and “The Big Lie — How Texas steals your voting rights while you are sleeping” (two examples from The Houston Chronicle, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2022). You can also read a range of editorials from previous years that won this prestigious prize through this link. Individuals can also submit “Letters to the Editor” about any subject . You can read some Letters to the Editor in The New York Times, or even write your own letter to a local newspaper like The Riverdale Press. I wrote one in 2020 for The Anchorage Daily News to protest funding cuts for a writing program in Alaska, and you can read much funnier ones here.