Speak Out

Communicating with your community, your social networks and even with your local press is a great way to educate others about the devastating effects of Alzheimer's and recruit others to join our efforts.

Below you’ll find the best ways to get your message out and spread the word.

  • How to Use Social Media

    Social media is a great way to engage your family, friends and community and make them feel part of your USAgainstAlzheimer’s advocacy efforts. Use the social media ideas below to connect with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers about our fight to stop Alzheimer’s.

    Follow USAgainstAlzheimer’s on Facebook and Twitter

    • Ask your Facebook friends and Twitter followers to follow USAgainstAlzheimer’s on Facebook and Twitter
    • Share and retweet our posts on your Facebook page and Twitter account

    Before Events and Meetings

    • Are you scheduling a meeting with your member of Congress? Ask your Facebook friends and Twitter followers to join you.
    • Will you be meeting with an elected official? Find elected officials’ Facebook pages and Twitter handles so you can mention them in your posts about the event or meeting.
    • Remember to post pictures with your status updates to make sure your followers see them!
    • Tag the USAgainstAlzheimer’s Facebook page when posting about events or meetings.

    Examples:

    Twitter: Going to meet [elected official's Twitter handle] to discuss #Alz on [insert date]. DM me if you’d like to join!

    Facebook: Just scheduled a meeting with [elected official’s Facebook Page] to discuss the impact of Alzheimer’s on our country. If you’d like to join, let me know!

    Promoting Advocacy

    • Use the hashtag #AlzAdvocate when tweeting about your advocacy activities.
    • If you have a Letter to the Editor or opinion piece published, share the link with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers.
    • If you have a smartphone, post pictures or video and share stories from your event or meeting with your friends and followers. Include who you’re meeting with and what you’re talking about. Make them feel like they’re there with you.

    Examples:

    Twitter: The [insert newspaper’s Twitter handle] just published my LTE on #Alz crisis [insert link]! #EndAlz

    Facebook: Just had a great meeting with [elected official’s Facebook Page]! We talked about the impact of Alzheimer’s on our nation. Click “LIKE” if you want to stop Alzheimer’s!

    After Events and Meetings

    • Upload your photos from the event or meeting to a Facebook album.
    • Mention a local reporter you know in a tweet to help create a dialogue so that you can go back to them later with information about an event you are holding, an action you took. For example, if @JessJonesWDJ is a health reporter at the Mountain Daily Journal, your first tweet to her could be something like: Thx @JessJonesWDJ for your great story on #Alz last week. A must-read! #endalz
    • Thank the elected officials you met with by posting a thank you on the official’s Facebook wall and tweeting a thank you to their Twitter handle.

    Examples:

    Twitter: Last week we met with [elected officials Twitter handle] to discuss the impact of #Alz. Join me & send a message with @USAgainstAlz http://bit.ly/GQZ6uV

    Facebook: Thanks [elected official’s Facebook Page] for meeting with us last week! Click “LIKE” to thank the Rep. XX for supporting stopping Alzheimer’s!

    USAgainstAlzheimer’s will be posting on Facebook and Twitter (@usagainstalz) about ourcampaign, so make sure to share and retweet our posts! We will also be on the lookout for your pictures to share.

    If you have any social media questions, email takeaction@usagainstalzheimers.org.
  • How to Write and Submit an Opinion Piece and
    Letters-to-the-Editor

    Placing opinion pieces or letters in local newspapers can be an influential way to insert your viewpoint into an ongoing conversation, or one you want to generate in the community. There are two primary types of opinion pieces you can write. An op-ed is a newspaper article that expresses an opinion about an issue in the news. The name “op-ed” comes from its usual location in the paper, opposite the editorial page. A letter to the editor (LTE) is a letter written to a newspaper by a reader in order to respond to a previous article or topic covered, or to offer a newsworthy opinion.

    How to Write and Submit an Op-Ed:

    Step 1: Choose when to submit an op-ed. Op-eds are most likely to be published when there is a public debate or coverage of a particular issue occurring – perhaps around the rapid growth of Alzheimer’s. In some cases they may also be tied to events, however those pieces are generally more difficult to place if they do not have a strong and relevant news hook. The most important rule to follow on submissions is to submit in a timely fashion, before it’s too late — news goes stale very fast.

    Step 2: Choose what to write in an op-ed. Many regional newspapers receive opinion pieces with a national angle from newspaper syndicates, so it’s best to emphasize a local or regional angle if possible (e.g., a personal story, local statistic and/or a local event).

    Step 3: Write the op-ed. Op-eds should clearly articulate the problem at the beginning of the piece (e.g., the threat of Alzheimer’s is rapidly expanding). Then narrow the arguments down to a regional point (e.g., [State] has XX amount of people afflicted with Alzheimer’s). Conclude with a clearly defined call-to-action (e.g., voters must urge presidential candidates to make finding a cure for Alzheimer’s a top priority).

    Step 4: Choose who should ‘sign’ an op-ed. Think through who should sign the op-ed and determine if it might be more advantageous for a particular person to editorialize on the subject. Local advocates, regional leaders or organization heads that support our issues are ideal people to consider as signers, or cosigners, of the opinion piece once it is written. The op-ed’s byline might not always belong to the person who wrote it.

    Step 5: Check your word count. Newspapers and online outlets have different word count requirements for op-eds. But, in general, it is best to keep them between 650-700 words. Check the outlets’ websites for information about word count requirements, as this information is usually listed in their editorial sections.

    Step 6: List your information. Always include your credentials and contact information, as most publications will require verbal or written verification that you have authored the piece.

    Step 7: Follow-up after you submit. If you have not heard back from the publication within two days, it’s a good idea to follow-up by phone or e-mail. If the publication is not accepting your op-ed then you should consider submitting to another local paper or online outlet. Also consider posting your piece on a blog that covers the topic or regional issues.

    How to Write and Submit a Letter to the Editor (LTE):

    Step 1: Choose when to submit an LTE. LTEs are most often accepted when they are written in response to an article or editorial and either point out an alternate perspective or strengthen the original piece. In some cases you can submit an LTE that does not relate to a particular article, but rather highlights a recent local event (e.g., charity event to raise money for Alzheimer’s research). As with op-eds, timing is important – news goes stale very fast, so submit LTEs as quickly as possible.

    Step 2: Choose what to write in an LTE. LTEs should be able to stand on their own and make sense to readers who may not have read the original article to which it is responding.

    Step 3: Write your LTE. LTEs should be focused and direct. Trying to cover several topics and making too many points reduces your letter’s impact, so try to keep to one subject. If you are responding to an article/editorial/opinion piece, try to reference it in the beginning of the letter.

    Step 4: Be brief. Newspapers and online outlets have different word count requirements for LTEs. But in general it is best to keep them as short and succinct as possible (usually between 150-250 words).

    Step 5: List your information. Always include your credentials and contact information, as most publications will require verbal or written verification that you have authored the piece.

    Step 6: Follow-up after you submit. Most newspapers have areas online where you can post comments to articles. If your LTE does not get placed, consider going online and adding your letter as a comment to a story.

    Need help or advice?
    Email takeaction@usagainstalzheimers.org

    Sample Caregiver LTE

    Remember: letters to the editor should be short (150-250 words), timely, and respond to an article, topic covered, or local event. For more tips on writing letters to the editor, click here.

    To the editor:

    As one of the 15 million caregivers for patients with Alzheimer’s in the U.S., I [agree with/disagree with] what [name] mentions in [his/her] story, [title and date]. I see firsthand the devastation this disease has on its victims and their families as they watch their loved ones lose their ability to [provide examples].

    Currently, there are 5.4 million people nationwide suffering from Alzheimer’s – including [insert number of those with Alzheimer’s in your state] [State]. The number of Alzheimer’s victims is expected to triple in the upcoming decades and the costs of caring for them will soar.

    The stark and sad reality is that currently there is no cure, treatment or other means of prevention for Alzheimer’s. We shouldn’t have to accept this status quo. Without greater urgency and a clear plan of action to find a cure, we will soon be swallowed by the oncoming tide of an aging population. We do not need (nor can we afford) more nursing homes or caregivers like me – what we need is a cure.

    We must urge our Members of Congress to make finding a cure for Alzheimer’s the national priority it ought to be.

    [Name]
    [Contact Information]

    Sample Family Member LTE

    Remember: letters to the editor should be short (150-250 words), timely, and respond to an article, topic covered, or local event. For more tips on writing letters to the editor, click here.

    To the editor:

    In [year], my [family member] was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Soon afterwards, the person who [raised me, supported me, etc.] faded away until all that was left was a [man/woman] who could no longer [describe problems that occurred as a result of the disease].

    Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease that strikes one-in-eight Americans by age 65 and [insert number of those with Alzheimer’s in your State] [State]. Despite the fact that we face an ever growing Alzheimer’s crisis, there is an abundant lack of leadership or urgency to defeat this disease.

    Of the ten leading causes of death, only Alzheimer’s has no cure, treatment or other means of prevention. Even so, the National Institutes of Health invests only about $450 million per year toward Alzheimer’s research – less than $90 per person living with the disease.

    I believe that we can defeat Alzheimer’s and prevent other families from enduring the pain of seeing their loved ones slip into the shadows of the disease. American ingenuity led to a cure for polio and we can do it again for Alzheimer’s. We must urge our Members of Congress to make finding a cure for Alzheimer’s the national priority it ought to be.

    [Name]
    [Contact Information]

    Sample Researcher LTE

    Remember: letters to the editor should be short (150-250 words), timely, and respond to an article, topic covered, or local event. For more tips on writing letters to the editor, click here.

    To the editor:

    [Insert short explanation of your work and the results you hope to achieve]. Researchers and medical experts are doing important work in [State] around Alzheimer’s – a cruel disease that afflicts one-in-eight Americans by age 65 and [insert number of those with Alzheimer’s in your State] [State].

    The sad reality is that of the ten leading causes of death, only Alzheimer’s has no cure, treatment or other means of prevention. Despite this, the National Institutes of Health invests only about $450 million per year toward Alzheimer’s research – less than $90 per person living with the disease.

    The research community believes that it is possible to prevent or control this disease within ten years with a disciplined and adequately funded strategy. Right now, that strategy and a sense of urgency is nowhere to be found. With increased awareness and leadership, I have no doubt that we can find a cure for Alzheimer’s just as we did for polio.

    We must urge our members of Congress to support Alzheimer’s research so we can make finding a cure the national priority it ought to be.

    [Name]
    [Contact Information]

    Visit the website of the publication you are targeting to search for an email address that accepts LTE or op-ed submissions. These can typically be found in the ‘Contact Us’ section or ‘Letters to the Editor’ section. If you are having trouble, please contact takeaction@usagainstalzheimers.com for help.

Next Section: Share Your Story >

Share the Toolkit

^ Back to Top