How to Start & Run a Petition
Date: 24 August 2015
Besides taking the three keys steps in How It Works. It’s worthwhile to take note of the following:
Naming Your Petition
- State the issue or what it is you want to change.
- You need to ask yourself if it is goal-specific and achievable.
- Use active verbs that make everyone want to join in.
- Examples: “Rain Shelters – Misuse of Taxpayers’ Money”, “Stop Selling Ivory Products”, “Stop Using Plastic Packaging in Supermarkets”.
Select Your Petition Target
- Who can make the change happen? I.e. decision makers.
- It should be a person who has the power on the issue. Never a company, a Government department nor the Government itself, but an individual within the organizations who can make changes.
- Determine his or her full name. Find their name(s) and contact information from organizations’ websites, social platforms and press releases.
- Add those who are related to the target to which the target will likely pressure e.g. PR, spokespersons.
Why Others Should Care / A Call to Action
- Articulate the problem and solution you’re trying to achieve. Get straight to the point.
- Explain our role in making the change, i.e. how public pressure can solve the problem.
- How readers’ actions will help reach the solution.
- Provide supporting information for your readers.
- Invite readers to support.
- It’s also helpful to ask them to organize offline actions.
Writing Your Petition Letter
- Keep it short and precise. Your target is busy. Avoid a long introduction.
- Address a single issue and what change you want to happen, how it can benefit the people and our environment.
- Be factual, thoughtful and respectful. It’s the start of your conversation with your target. Avoid common criticism.
- Do your research and find supportive and relevant information for your petition.
- Share values that your petition supports which benefit the society at large, not just a few people.
- Make sure there is ‘call to action’ in your letter.
- Explain the urgency.
- If it is about specific legislation, identify and reference it correctly, see the Bilingual Laws Information System.
- State any professional credentials or personal experience pertaining to the issue in your petition letter.
- Check your grammar and spelling. Avoid using ALL CAPITALS.
- We will send the decision makers emails as supporters sign your petition.
- After your petition goes live, neither your petition target nor the cause can be changed. This is to give signers the peace of mind that they are not signing something that could change at a later date.
To: [insert target name & position]
Subject: [insert your request]
We, the undersigned, hereby petition the [insert target name & position] to [insert your request].
[Here to explain the action you're suggesting]
Image & Video
- Needless to say, a compelling image can tell a story, capture people's attention, and motivate people to act.
- Select an image in relevant and non-controversial context. Use ‘Google Reserve Image Search’ which allows you to use a picture as your search to find related images from around the web. This can help you decide whether you have selected an image that will not backfire.
- A 1 to 2 minute short video can be a powerful tool. It can be an eyewitness account, a news story clip or a personal testimony. The video should show the problem and have good audio quality.
Stay Connected and Update Your Supporters
- Post updates to your petition page. Your supporters would love to be kept informed.
- Google Alerts is free and allows you to find news related to your cause.
- Be open to all comments.
- Maintain good social media etiquette while engaging with your supporters. SupportHK.org promotes a friendly online environment.
- Always answer questions.
- Verify your information.
- Shout out and give ‘Thanks!’
- Think out loud.
Next article: How to Promote Your Petition.