Presenting your cause in a convincing manner

Once the basic data has been submitted, you should focus on structuring and designing your petition. Every petition contains three important elements: title, picture and text.

 

With your openPetition you mobilise people – with colourful posters, speakers and most importantly: commitment!

a) Title

The title is the first thing possible supporters see of your petition. It should be easy to identify your exact demands and make someone curious. Without a good title, even the most important causes remain unrecognised.

 

Examples of successful petition titles:

“District administrator Bielefeld, act now! Free WiFi for Cuxhaven schools” –> addresses the recipient directly and precisely brings across the demand.

“Berlin needs Grips! Parents demand the maintenance of the famous children’s and youth theatre” –> Clever playing on words (in German). The first part was used throughout the entire campaign as a slogan

“Families belong together! Refugees must not be separated from their relatives over years” –> demand and problem presented in two short pleas.

“It’s five past twelve. Better framework conditions for primary schools now!” –> Clear and explicit. Reminds of the saying “It’s five to twelve” and illustrates the urgency of the cause. Also a good choice for a catchphrase for the campaign and a high possibility of recognition in the media.

“Bivsi and her parents must come back to Germany!” –> Short and direct. The title doesn’t say anything but makes the reader curious to find out more about the background.

 

Examples of unsuitable choice of titles:

“Death penalty for pastor in Iran” –> inconclusively stated – the demand was to free a priest, not the death penalty. For the same cause there was another petition with a very good title: “Freedom for Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani”. Here the demand is clear and positively stated. The person affected is also called by his name, which illustrates that the cause is about an individual’s destiny. This petition reached over 15.000 signatures, the above-mentioned one less than 3.000.

“Protest against EU-policy RL 2017/63/EU” –> What could it be about? Only very few readers will know this administration abbreviation. Cats and dogs which are caught running free should be brought to animal-testing laboratories – that’s what it’s about and should be easily recognisable in the title.

 

b) Picture

Your petition should not go online without a picture, because the first impression is very important. Supporters as well as journalists will pay more attention to a petition which is well thought through than a rushed one without a picture. People think in images – and like to share them. Here is the most important advice for good campaign pictures:

For correct display please upload a picture in horizontal format with side ratio 3:2, ideally with 450×300 pixels. Image rights: Please be careful which material you are using and make sure the photo license is easily recognisable. We bear liability for the contents on our website and reserve the right to delete pictures which are not labeled correctly.

Petition: Siemens employees fight against the sale of the generator factory in Erfurt.

 

Choose an active, strong gesture behind which many people can assemble.

You want to actively change something: if you give an inspiring example, many people will want to join you. Show them your cause is mobilising! Just as the petition: „Siemens employees fight against the sale of the generator factory in Erfurt”.

Petition: Right to vote for people with a disability.

Use strong metaphors

Clarify the problem with a comparison or use linguistic phrases in pictures. The picture of the petition “Right to vote for people with disabilities” creatively illustrates, which additional burden people with disabilities must deal with.

 

Petition: Bivsi and her parents must return to Germany.

Tell a personal story – concentrate on a single person.

To the dismay and acting of a single person we can relate immediately, which worked really well with the petition against the deportation of 15-year old Bivsi.

 

Petition: Against the introduction of tuition fees!

Show a symbol for something intangible.

Is your cause invisible, as for example the framework conditions for the education system or tution fees, take a symbol which illustrates its urgency. A ringing alarm clock with the petition title “It’s five past twelve. Better framework conditions for primary schools now!” underlines how urgent the petitioner’s demands are. The usage of associations’ logos which are easy to recognise is also recommendable. The flame in combination with the phrase “We burn for education” in the petition “Against the introduction of tuition fees” is a good example too.

Count on humour!

A pinch of humour can make people remember your cause. And we like to share things, which make us smile, with our friends. Of course you must consider if a humorous approach is the right choice for your cause. The petition “Against reference of God in Schleswig-Holstein!” shows, how this approach is possible.

 

c) Text

Your text is the centrepiece of your petition to convince other people of your cause.

Demands: Your demands should be as precise as possible. In the first paragraph you answer the following questions: Which goal do you want to reach? To whom is the petition addressing? Who is supporting your cause?

Reason: In this section you can explain why your cause is important. Describe the situation and why it must be changed. Specify how your demands would influence the situation. You can also state single examples or individual experiences. The reason should not be too long. It is worth offering additional information on your own website or on facebook and making supporters aware of the news function on your petition page.

Consistent argumentation: Your reason should be consistent and comprehensible. It’s important to relate to the current legal situation.

Reliable sources: Your petition is more convincing if you can proof your statements with reliable sources. Add links with articles or studies. Be careful when examining your sources’ reliability, or your petition might become implausible.

Short and to the point: A petition is not a novel, but a well-founded demand.

Readability: Make an effort and pay attention to your spelling, grammar and punctuation and use clear and simple language.

 

Brainstorming sessions are most productive with friends!

 

Back to Advice on how to create a successful petition on openPetition.

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  • Länderbericht Petitionen 2016 (PDF)
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