Letter Campaign

Bjo Trimble's "Do's and Don'ts of Letter-Writing"

Submitted By: Bjo Trimble

Please note: There are some references in here to the "Save Star Trek" campaign that existed back in the late 60s, although this information is very valuable today as it was back then!

A LITTLE HISTORY: Back when John and I started the "Save Star Trek" campaign, we needed to make NBC open mail from the fans. With that in mind, I interviewed about 50 secretaries, asking them what types of letters they attended to themselves, tossed in the trash, or made sure their bosses looked at. The answers I got became the list below. I removed the information on petitions because they truly do not work anymore. Though some of the actual letter-writing information won't work for e-mail, the advice about being polite and having a good attitude applies at any time. Remember, we'll deserve the fate of having nothing to watch on TV if, through inaction, we let Star Trek die [Or, in our case, not giving Jim Kirk the fitting send-off he deserves -- Ed.]! - Bjo Trimble

FIRST: Write your letter, following the suggestions below. Then ask 10 (ten) people to write a letter. Ask them to ask 10 people to write a letter. They will ask 10 people to write a letter, and so on.... and so on.... and so on....

DO: Be neat, write clearly, and sign the letter. REASON: It does no good to send a sloppy letter that nobody can read, and anonymous mail is always thrown away, or saved to show the media what kind of NUTS are writing in. The media loves to make fans look as if they are all completely crazy.
DON'T: Address a VIP familiarly, or tell the network their business. REASON: You are asking a favor; the privilege of seeing Kirk return for one last adventure. The wrong attitude will nullify your letter, and the campaign efforts.
DON'T: Write "Star Trek" on the outside of the envelope. REASON: The letters will be sent, unopened, directly to the show and not be seen by anyone at Paramount, Viacom, or UPN, to whom you are making your appeal.
DO: Be polite. Don't attack another show, or anyone's intelligence. REASON: Remember you are asking for something. Secretaries just discard letters that start with "you fathead!" or whine "howcum *THAT* stupid show is still on the air, and Star Trek isn't?"
DON'T: Send letters directly to Star Trek unless you want to say something to the people there. REASON: Letters directed to the show are seldom seen by the network officials; only letters addressed as shown on this list will be effective for any campaign.
DO: Be sincere. If you don't buy a sponsor's product, just say something nice about their intelligence in sponsoring Star Trek. These people can spot a "put-on" as fast as you can. If you do buy the product, be sure to say so! REASON: Sponsors seldom get anything but complaints, and a sincere letter of praise can encourage them to continue sponsoring Star Trek.
DON'T: Send form letters of any kind: photocopied, mimeographed, carbon copies or even copies of someone else's letter will be spotted and tossed. Your letter need not be long, but it must be in your own words. REASON: Anything approaching a form letter is easily detected and will instantly give the impression that only a tiny segment of fans is doing all the writing. Your letter should be original. (With today's computerization, it is very easy to detect copies of copies - and it is very easy to replicate letters with the "copy-and-paste" feature also!)
DO: Send carbon copies when and only when they will be effective; to show Paramount and Viacom that you have written to the sponsors, for instance. Be sure to include a letter directed to Paramount and Viacom, also. REASON: This shows you are going to all possible lengths to Bring Back Kirk. (cc to sponsors online, too)
DON'T: Represent yourself as anything you aren't. REASON: As with form letters, networks are geared to ferret out spurious claims, and tricks will not help ours, or any sort of, endeavor at all!
DO: Use company letterheads or club stationery whenever you legitimately can do so. REASON: Professional people and community groups can carry a lot of weight. Networks and holding companies are extremely sensitive to groups which are, or could become, "pressure groups." This includes teachers, student groups, pastors, priests, and any organization.
DO: Use a business-sized #9 or #10 white envelope for your letter, even if you don't have a company letterhead. REASON: Cute stationery and small or colored envelopes look "fannish," while a white business-sized envelope will make the network open it just in case it *is* really business. (This worked so well for the original Save Star Trek campaign that NBC had to hire extra people to open the mail! And, if done correctly, it'll be the same for Paramount, UPN, and Viacom, too!)
DO: Hand out this information to everyone interested in Bringing Back Kirk. Copy this information (flyers) for your club members, relatives, people at work, etc. REASON: It will take the cooperation of *everyone* to reach all the Star Trek and Jim Kirk fans out there; no one person or group can possibly even know of all potential fans who might aid this project. Remember the Rule of Ten: ask 10 people, who ask 10 people, who ask 10 people....
DON'T: Pre-judge who will be interested, just tell everyone. REASON: You can't guess who will be interested, or how far one piece of information can travel. (We included a flyer with all outgoing mail: catalog orders, bill-paying, and family Christmas cards. The response was amazing! Someone in our local gas company copied the information; someone picked up a flyer and sent it to Mensa headquarters! When a catalog order arrived, we found a note from the packer who asked for more flyers to hand out at church. A relative turned out to be a closet Trekker, who passed our information on to nearly 100 people.)
DO: Contact:
  1. local TV stations carrying Star Trek
  2. local TV columnists in newspapers and other publications
  3. metropolitan newspaper columnists
  4. national TV columnists
  5. TV Guide
DON'T: Mention any connection with Star Trek, even if you happen to know someone on the show personally. REASON: Networks have suspicious minds, and mentioning such a connection to Paramount, UPN, and/or Viacom Corporation will only nullify your letter. They will immediately suspect that you have been talked into writing, instead of this being a fan campaign.
DON'T: Put off writing those letters! If you are short of time, write to the top names on the list; your letter could be the one that tips the scales in Star Trek's favor! REASON: Options are renewed around January-February, so there isn't much time in which to get letters to Paramount, Viacom & UPN, and sponsors, if this campaign is to be successful.
DO: Help Bring Back Kirk - NOW!!

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