How to set up a petition
It’s easy for people to ignore one voice - but when many many voices come together to say they want to see something done about an issue - those with power will start to take notice.
Having many people “backing” and “sharing” your campaign gives it credibility and power can help you achieve an almost immediate result, or, it can be a great tool to back-up other activities you are planning.
There is an art to getting petitions right. Here are some tried and tested tips!
1. Get your Facts right
Make sure you know the issue inside out and have done your research. Your petition needs to ask for a specific action that will actually help, is possible, and that people can understand. Cross check all information before you launch your petition to the world.
Know and show facts about your petition e.g. when it needs to be signed by, how many people need to sign it, what will happen next.
2. Get your Caption right
Captions (the headline of the petition) should be short, powerful, and inspirational to capture the support of busy people. Captions that say what’s going on in a few words are golddust.
In this example the caption shows clearly what change the petition is asking for with as few words as possible.
3. Get your petition text right
Your petition needs to tell people the most important facts
1) What the problem is (mixing personal experiences and hard facts),
2) What needs to be done by who and when. Make it Urgent!
3) Who you are, why you care, who is supporting you already, and how people can help. This is a recipe for success.
Write your petition well and in a way everyone can understand. Be positive. Bullet points are better than long paragraphs. Get a few people to proof read your words before you “launch”.
4. Get your images right
Pictures can show the issue get people involved instantly - they are essential. Your picture has to help people understand the problem and want to read more.
5. Get your decision maker right
Make sure you “address” your petition to someone who can actually fix the problem. (tools from the “how the world works” worksheet will help you find the right person).
6. Get your promotion right
Talk to people wherever you can find them: online and in the community.
Using posters, email lists, social media, badges, stickers and local and national newspapers/radio will help you raise awareness and make a louder noise.
Always be polite - people don’t support people who are rude, and remember - they person you are “petitioning” is likely to read what is written
Plan updates for supporters but not so many you “turn them off”
Make a space where they can ask questions, find out what’s happening and see what other people are saying (this could be a blog, social media page etc)
Always carry the petition address / a professional paper copy with you
If you can get lots of people to sign at once it builds “momentum” and your petition might be featured on the site - this will help you get even more sign ups!
7. Use a petition platform
These are some of the most popular and easy to use petition sites
Search some of the “successful” petitions on these sites. Why do you think they were successful?
Search one of these petition sites for petitions being run on your issue. Look at the petitions and decide:
Is the aim of the petition clear and realistic?
Does the caption and picture grab your attention?
Are there any groups or people supporting their campaign that might help you?
There is lots of extra guidance on the petition sites and they “talk you through” the process. If you need some support with language or technology don’t be afraid to ask for help.