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What Is Your Online Petition Strategy? How to Select the Right Target and Reach Your Base

Let’s drill deeper down to the roots of an effective campaign. We’ve uncovered what petitions are and why they are more relevant than ever, along with which causes are best served by petitions.

Now let’s work to make your petition the best it can be!

There are two different segments of people who should be considered for a single petition:

A successful petition defines both clearly!

Here’s an example. This petition regarding the sale of puppies at flea markets nationwide identifies both the target and the base of support.

1. Identifying the Petition Target

example petition targets

A well-crafted petition names an individual or small group to whom we want to direct our concern or request. In the puppy petition, the target is the President of the National Flea Market Association, Robert Sieban — the person with the strongest influence over flea markets, and thus, the power to stop puppy sales.

How do we find the best targets?

  • Look for individuals within an organization that have the power to listen and help. Many petitions have a target of just one individual with the power to make decisions. A little research into the company or group you are targeting goes a long way!
  • Remember that if your issue covers multiple companies or governments, online petitions are easy to replicate with unique targets for each group. Our example petition can easily be replicated to target the managers of local flea markets as well.
  • Presidents and CEOs are likely targets of petitions because they have a broad understanding of the operations, both in how they function currently and the process for change.
  • HOWEVER, not every petition is best served by solely targeting the head of an organization. We look for those that are in charge, and also those in the best position to help. That means we look at all rungs on the ladder: PR representatives, local managers or affiliates, franchisees and boards of directors can all be effective targets.
  • Government officials are prime targets for petitions. When dealing with government, think big and start small. Start by targeting municipal, city and county leaders before national representatives.
Lacey Kohlmoos, Online Organizing Strategist, Care2 Petitions
Lacey Kohlmoos,
Online Organizing Strategist

“The more specific you can be in identifying this decision-maker or group of decision-makers, the more likely it is that your petition will get to the right place and have the most impact.”

2. Finding a Petition’s Audience

how to find an audience for your petition

Any good petition needs support! People need to know what the issue is and why it’s important. Use any creative way you can think of to get people listening and engaged. In the puppy sales petition, the ‘public’ consists of Humane Society supporters, both current and future.

Here are some ways to reach people:

  • Share your personal story. The best petitions are those created by someone directly affected by their issue. Using your own experience and connection to the cause, others will be motivated to join in support, or at least begin to learn more.
  • Spreading the word through neighborhood and community message boards and social media groups can easily drum up support in your area. Online news outlets also love to cover local issues, so gather contacts before launching your petition and do some traditional PR outreach. Remember, online petitions are easy to share with family and friends both near and far. Create a plan for distribution before you publish your petition.
  • Go old school! Create a rally in front of government or business headquarters. This draws press attention and interviews, raises awareness of your issue, and creates a visual image to go along with your message. In our puppy sales example, an awareness campaign DURING a major flea market calls immediate attention to an animal rights issue that’s hard to ignore. We’ll go into more detail about this in a future post, so stay tuned.
Jen Johnson, Manager of Member Activism for Care2 Petitions
Jen Johnson,
Manager of Member Activism

“If you want your petition to be successful, you need to gather signatures and get people talking about your campaign. People will sign and share your petition if they believe in your cause—but chances are a lot of people haven’t heard about the problem you’re trying to solve. Make sure when you write your petition that you help people understand what’s wrong, why they should care about it and why the solution you have thought of will help.”

The goal of any campaign is to create awareness for change. As you create your petition, keep both your target(s) and your supporters in mind, with easy calls to action for progressing the issue toward a resolution.

Need help framing your message and calls to action? Read on in part four of our series, as we work to create the strongest message possible!