By: Jolynn Rice

Throughout my career, I have had to write marketing copy, social media ads, press releases, and the like. Whether I was promoting a new product, requesting donations, or announcing a promotion. I’ve used that skill now to develop a letter template that can be used to urge local or state lawmakers, law enforcement, and other advocacy groups to request their help in advocating for case support.

I can speak firsthand about the importance of this tool, as I am a family advocate for Kristin O’Connell. Kristin was murdered 36 years ago and there have been no arrests—I promised Kristin’s mother that I would do whatever I could to help her get answers. 


Below I will share my tricks for creating an advocacy letter using a template I developed and share the tools I use so you can develop a similar letter to help advocate for a murder victim and their family.

Resource Gathering for an Advocacy Letter

Gather your email addresses using for bulk email sends. This is my go-to tool for finding email addresses for people. You can use a free account to search for 25 emails or do 50 email verifications per month. You can pay for more access and searches if you need to. Hunter makes it SO much easier to look for email addresses vs. googling people yourself. They crawl the internet for you and allow you to save email addresses in your campaign lists. This makes emailing super easy! You can install their Google chrome extension to connect to your Gmail account for easy sends.


Get Ready to Write

Craft your letter. For this, I use Google Docs so I can collaborate with the family members on edits. It also allows me to have access to the document even if I do not have my PC near me. So if you have your smartphone and download Google Drive you ALWAYS have access to it, plus, its super easy to use too!

In the letter, there are specific things you need to focus on:

  • State who you are, what your connection is to the issue (i.e. I am an advocate), and why they should listen to you (i.e. I am a voter and constituent)
  • State your relationship to the person you are sending the email to and where you live
  • Be direct! Tell them why you are contacting them. State the “problem or issue” (i.e. I need your help with…)
  • SHOW them you have done your homework. It is great to “name drop” because it shows you have already reached out to their colleagues or other lawmakers. They may be more likely to take you seriously.

  • Show them what you have done so far to advocate for the cause and if there is some history of past advocacy work by others, summarize this as well. This is important because it shows others have taken up and supported the cause in the past, and that lends credibility to your pleas.

  • Now, state explicitly what you want from them, and how can they help your specific effort.

Make it Personal

Add relevant images to the email. Make the reader understand that this is a person who they have the very real power to help. In this particular letter, I included images of Kristin to reiterate that this is about a very human issue: the murder of a young woman. Show them who you are fighting for and who they need to be thinking about!

How to deploy an advocacy letter at a critical mass

Add the power of community. Set the email up in an HTML generator so that the email can be sent automatically to your contact list, and to allow for multiple sends. 

> Pro-tip: Use Rapid Tables website to generate the HTML email. You can download your leads/emails into an excel file you gathered in step one. Copy and paste them into the “to” field in the HTML generator. Then copy and paste your letter text into the body of the HTML generator. Copy the link that is automatically generated. Now, you can share the link with others so they can email as well, and you can use the link to generate the email in your default email program.

Now let’s get started together! You can help now by sending this letter on behalf of justice for Kristin O’Connell and answers for her family.  


Love this post? Meet the Author.
Jolynn is the family advocate for Kristin O’Connell who’s 36-year-old murder in New York is still unsolved. She has been researching, posting on social media platforms, and trying to connect the family to political leaders and news outlets that will carry their story and shine a light on Kristin’s case. Enter, Jolynn has joined our research community to share insights into her efforts and find supporters to help in advocating for Kristin’s case. You can follow her on Twitter to learn more about how you can help Kristin’s case. 
Uncovered is building a community around collective impact on cold cases. That includes supporting further education to develop citizen detective skills. Interested in contributing? Join our community, or reach out with a topic you’d like to share with the community.