Your petition is online now and you want to collect as many signatures as possible and publish your petition in order to make people aware of it. There are three important columns which are all important: Internet, active commitment and public relations.
a. Material – video and sharepic
In the section about spreading your cause via the internet you learn about using social media. Here are additional tools which are useful for your cause: videos and share pics. To spread good content, you need good material.
Video: Shoot a short video with your smartphone or camcorder (in horizontal format) presenting affected people and supporters. Let’s assume, your petition is about the logging of a forest. In your video, runners, dog owners and foresters could briefly explain why the possible logging would be bad and why the petition should be signed. A teaser or image video should not be longer than 1:30 minutes, but can as well be around 30 seconds long. Most people don’t watch longer videos entirely and for spreading it via social media it’s effective to keep it as short as possible.
For your video, just like for your petition, it’s important to choose an attention-grabbing title, ideally “#Petition – title of your petition”. Also the description on youtube or facebook should be brief and concise. 2-3 sentences explaining the situation and linking your petition are more than enough. Pay attention at choosing appropriate tags which are search engine compliant.
Also, pay attention to good sound quality, the people filmed should be as close to the microphone as possible and interfering noise should be avoided. When people give statements, you should film them close to their faces (Showing only the eyes and nose is counterproductive, showing the whole body as well). Focus on using moving images – they make the video more alive.
Send your video to us before publishing it! In case you don’t have experience cutting videos, you can send us single snippets and we cut your video with Adobe Premiere for you. In case you want to cut it yourself, we happily give you feedback and upload your video to our YouTube channel in case you don’t have your own.
→ free video cutting programmes are Windows Movie Maker or iMovie
→ Add subtitles, so people can watch your video without sound (many people turn off the automatic sound reproduction when they are outside the house)
→ Add music to your video, e.g. piano music. A good example of a successful teaser video is the petition “Stop the deportation of our classmate Abdulsami Naderi”. The video is 2:30 long, but many people get a chance to speak.
OpenPetition supported the commitment of the initiators and shared their video on its facebook channel. Afterwards, the petitioners sent the facebook post including the video to supporters and asked them to share it. What a great opportunity to spread the petition! The same tactic was chosen by a petitioner who is the mother of a deaf son to spread her petition “Implement sign language! Bilingual, bimodal, finally normal!”.
Sharepic: A sharepic is a picture which is created to be shared and spread as quickly as possible.This means it needs to draw attention immediately and have a clear and simple statement. Sometimes it is enough to set a loud colour as the background colour and to put a bold font. Ideally, the cause which you are fighting for gets recognised, meaning the people affected are still in the picture. A sharepic only contains the most important information.
b) spreading your petition via the internet – widgets, social media, emails
You have started an online petition and it’s obvious to look for supporters online. openPetition offers various functions for that. At the bottom right of your petition’s page you can find the following options:
E-Mails and messenger: Send your petition via email to all your contacts. Thanks to personal emails, people sign an openPetition more frequently than for any other reason. Don’t neglect messengers such as iMessage, WhatsApp or Telegram, many people use them. Create a group with all your contacts and their contacts and send them a link to your petition. The petition of student Dario reached over 45.000 people – in 48 hours! Send your petition to organisations or clubs which might support your cause and ask them to spread your petition.
Social media: Facebook, twitter and instagram are essential for reaching many people. Found a facebook group or page and regularly post photos, news and ask your friends to share and spread your messages. Press articles about the topic or your petition are perfect material for creating a new post. Newspapers often post links to separate articles which they repost and add stuff to. Also, public holidays which are connected to your petition or draft laws are good material for a post. Ask organisations or clubs to share your petition on their pages.
Widget and banner: You have the opportunity to add a widget to your or your friends’ website. Widgets allow supporters to directly sign on the website without visiting openPetition first. You can decentralise the process of collecting signatures. Another possibility is to add a banner to your website which redirects supporters to the petition’s page.
Place your petition purposefully online: Many of the fastest growing petitions have been shared in matching forums, blogs or online magazines. Search for websites, which bring together people with similar interests. Write your own post by telling why your cause is important to you and don’t forget the link to the petition. You can go into detail here, because whoever visits these pages is interested in your cause. Another possibility are online versions of newspapers and online magazines: Once you discover an article about your topic, you can leave a comment with a link to your petition or you can ask the authors of regional or thematically relevant blogs or magazines to report about your petition.
c) Commitment – don’t forget the offline world!
To make your petition public, you can get creative and think about alternative ways of generating attention. Many things have proven popular in the past:
– information evenings and town meetings: build contacts and inform neighbours, find supporters
– beneficial concerts: collect donations and make the event memorable for supporters
– demonstrations at a place which is important for the petition: draw attention to your cause and show the public how important it is for you and your supporters
– offline signatures’ collection and information booth: openPetition stands out because you can collect signatures online and offline. You have the opportunity to reach not only internet savvy people, but can establish cross-generational cooperation and meet other people affected. Here you find more advice.
–banner adverts on streets and buildings
Absolutely necessary: inform the press, invite journalists, take photos and videos yourself and generate material for your online campaign.
d) Public relations – generate attention
Daily newspaper are still the most important medium to reach a broad public. Also, radio and television have excellent coverage. For journalists to know about your petition you must inform them and deliver relevant facts, pictures and an exciting, personal story for your cause. You should inform the press when starting your petition and invite them to all of your offline events and the submission of signatures. Maintain journalists informed about recent developments. Events which have a thematic connection with your petition, e.g. A public holiday, a demonstration or a law draft, are perfect for press releases.
Search contact: Search for email addresses and phone numbers of journalists and editors which might be interested in your cause. Possible overlapping points are: similar topics (journals), regional proximity (local newspapers) or ideological proximity.
Make contact: Call the editorial staff and ask which email address you should send your information to or ask for the responsible journalist you want to talk to about your cause. It is important to send your message to the correct person or the correct department, otherwise your information (press release) gets lost.
Write a press release: Send a press release about your petition. It should be objective, present all the facts and name a contact person for further information.
Check list Press Release:
Subject: A summarising sentence which makes readers curious.
First Paragraph: You answer direct questions such as Who, What, When and Where. No long introductory sentences!
Central section: You answer the questions How and Why and tell a bit about the previous history. There is some space for interesting details.
Conclusion: You give all additional information: don’t forget the link to the petition and your contact details (email address and phone number) and offer to be available for interviews.
Plan your offline events
Write a maximum of one page.
Send meaningful photos or upload them on flickR.
Online: Once an article about your petition has been published (almost all print articles are also published online), make sure the link to your petition is included! You can generate more signatures and supporters can stay updated about recent developments. Definitely call the editorials to ask about linking your petition if they haven’t done so!
e. Dialogue – contact decision-makers
Making contact with those who will eventually decide about your cause is often useful. In Germany and Austria, we ask for statements once the openPetition quorum is reached and thus, encourage a transparent dialogue between citizens and politicians. These statements are a good opportunity to find out which politicians oppose your cause and which ones support it. Also, it can be observed which delegates support an open hearing in the parliament. If your petition is set in a different country that Germany or Austria, we are not able to provide the service of asking for politicians’ statements yet.
Also, with non-political decision-makers such as central stakeholders in economy or culture it is worth communicating with before the decision about your petition and to exchange information or raise attention for your petition together.
Back to Advice on how to create a successful petition on openPetition.