Letter-Writing Success Not Just About Pen and Paper

At the heart of the New York Public Library Don’t Close the Book on Libraries campaign was a letter-writing effort to urge City Hall and lawmakers to restore funding for the Library. George Milhaltses, NYPL VP for government and community affairs, shares some of his letter-writing tactics:

Enlist traditional and new media. “The whole point of the campaign is to create a buzz and let officials know the masses care about this issue,” he says. “When they are getting flooded with letters through the mail and online, it’s even more effective.”

Don’t make patrons do too much work. For the first time this year, the NYPL created a letter and asked people to sign their names, addresses and the official they wished the letter to go to. “It’s just as effective to do it that way, and you can get a lot more people to sign on,” Milhaltses says.

Receiving letters can be helpful to lawmakers. “Especially when you have constituents’ names and addresses attached, it actually helps them build a database of people who care,” he notes.

Match letter writers with their own public officials. Letters directly from key stakeholders often result in decisive action.

Read more from the New York Public Library case study.

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