Tactic: Writing letters to the editor to expose PepsiCo’s woeful action plan
Thanks for writing a letter to the editor! Big companies like PepsiCo hate nothing more than bad press, so we’re writing to local newspapers around the world to call out PepsiCo on its flawed palm oil ‘action plan.’
Why: We must expose PepsiCo’s ‘action plan’ for what it is––nothing more than spin! You can help let consumers all over the world know that PepsiCo is unwilling to take real action to halt rainforest destruction, forest fires and human rights abuses in Indonesia by writing letters to the editors of newspapers or magazines. The opinion section is often the most widely read part of a local paper and it's easier than you might think to reach thousands of readers.
Here is an example that you can use to guide the writing of your letter:
To the Editor:
Re: PepsiCo, November 2015
PepsiCo is linked to the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests
My daughter is ten years old and I’m shocked to learn that the palm oil in her favorite snacks has been produced through destroying Indonesia’s rainforests. Palm oil is in half of the products sold in a grocery store, including snack foods made by PepsiCo. PepsiCo’s products are made using palm oil that is grown in Indonesia by companies associated with the destruction and burning of pristine rainforests. Right now, the intentional burning of forests to clear land for more palm oil plantations is displacing thousands of people, leaving millions at risk of respiratory illness and proving deadly in some cases. I just found out that PepsiCo is refusing to take necessary action while Indonesia is literally burning. It has just released a so-called ‘action plan’ that falls woefully short and doesn't address the deadly crises that results from its use of Conflict Palm Oil.
These rainforests are the last homes for the Sumatran tiger, elephant, rhinos and orangutans, and they produce the oxygen we breathe and help fight climate change by pulling dangerous greenhouse gas pollution out of the atmosphere. Clean air, a stable climate and biodiversity are going to be crucial for my daughter’s future, so I am going to use my voice to tell PepsiCo that it must take real action and cut Conflict Palm Oil from its products. I hope you will join me.
Writing a letter to the editor (LTE) is really simple, here are a few tips to get your letter published:
INCLUDE CONTACT INFORMATION: Include your full name, city, state, phone #
BE CLEAR: Make one main point.
BE CONCISE: 1- 3 paragraphs, 3-8 sentences, 40-100 words.
BE ACCURATE: Letters that are factually inaccurate are not printed.
BE RELEVANT: If you can, write your letter within a day of an article that is connected to the fires, Indonesia or PepsiCo and make your letter a response to that article
BE INTERESTING: Get your reader’s attention and keep it to the end of your letter. Open with an interesting fact or strong statement about palm oil and keep your points as interesting as possible.
AVOID PERSONAL ATTACKS: Show respect for the opposite opinion. Let people know how you feel and tie your message to something local and relevant to your community. Because palm oil is everywhere, it is an issue that affects everyone––even if they don’t know it yet.
PROOFREAD: Re-read your letter. Check for grammar and spelling mistakes. If possible, ask another person to read your letter for accuracy and clarity.
WRITE TO A NUMBER OF NEWSPAPERS: Don't just send letters to the biggest paper in town. The smaller the paper, the better the chances of getting your letter printed. Small weekly papers can help you reach hundreds or even thousands of people.
INCLUDE AN ASK: Finish with giving people something to do! Ask them to read labels on their products or suggest that people take action to remove controversial palm oil from their lives.
WRITE AN OP ED: If you have expertise or a public profile you may have the chance to write an opinion piece for the local paper, especially if you are involved in a controversial campaign. These are longer articles of 500 to 800 words that summarize an issue, develop an argument, and propose a solution. Send the article to the editorial page editor with a cover letter explaining why it should be printed. The opinion piece has a better chance of getting printed if it is signed by someone prominent, even if you wrote it for him or her.