WeMove has now grown to almost 1 million supporters. Over the years we've learnt a lot about how to word a petition, how to grow a campaign and how to win a campaign. Here, we’re gonna provide you with some tips on how to win Your campaign!
You can also check our FAQ from petition initiators
Do you know the difference between a PETITION and a CAMPAIGN?
A PETITION is the text you put online and ask people to sign. If you’re lucky, doing this can be enough to achieve the change you want, but at WeMove we know that to really get results you need a hard-hitting campaign.
A CAMPAIGN is everything you do online and offline to push for the desired change: spreading the word in social media, organising protests and creative events, meeting with politicians to put pressure on them, getting journalists interested, asking local activist groups for support and much, much more.
Start your petition and campaign NOW!
STAGE 1: Starting your petition
Set a goal and find your decision-maker
Set a goal: Your first step is to think of a goal that is achievable and specific. So, rather than calling on the government to “Stop Climate Change”, pick a concrete outcome that would help achieve that goal – introducing a carbon tax, for example, or banning the import of oil from tar sands.
Choose a decision-maker: Find out who has the most power to deliver the changes you’re asking for and address your petition to them. Is it your local council, or maybe you need a change in policy from a government minister? It’s a good idea to be as specific as you can – this holds your decision-maker accountable and makes it harder for them to shift responsibility onto others.
Writing your petition
Petition Title: Your title is the first thing people will see, so make it short, specific and to the point – that way, they’re more likely to want to find out more about your petition. If your petition focuses on a particular place, include that in the title too – e.g. “Keep our Parisian libraries open”
Whom are you petitioning? This should be the target of the petition, not who you’d like to sign it. Who has the power to make the changes you’re petitioning for? Is it an MP, an MEP, the European Parliament, the European Council or even your local council? Is it a minister, a company CEO, the Mayor, etc.? Try to choose only one person if possible – petitions that are addressed to multiple targets tend to be less successful.
What do you want them to do? This is what your petition is asking for – i.e. “We urge you to reject the Bayer-Monsanto merger and prevent the damage caused by these corporations. We also demand full openness about your decision-making processes” or “Falciani is a pioneer of tax justice. The Spanish government must not extradite him to Switzerland.”. Again, try to keep this short – you just want a few lines to get across your key demands. There is plenty more space below to explain why it’s important.
TIP! Keep the ‘ask’ of your petition to just one thing. Don’t call for everything at once, pick the one thing that would make a difference now, be strategic.
Why is it important? This is where you make your case for why other people should be signing your petition. Describe the problem, why it matters and what you want to do about it. It’s often really effective to include a personal story too – have you or someone you know been directly affected by what you’re campaigning about? If you can include links to articles or research about your issue, all the better.
STAGE 2: Grow your campaign
Share your petition
Social media: Facebook and Twitter are great places to spread the word about your petition – for every person that shares your campaign, around 100 others on average will see it. Multiply that even by a few hundred and that’s a lot of people reading your petition. What’s great is that Facebook and Twitter also make it really easy for people who come across your petition to share it further – this can really help campaigns spread and grow rapidly.
Don’t leave the Twitter and Facebook boxes in the form empty! Write a short, compelling post and tweet so that anyone who signs the petition can easily spread the word.
For Twitter, remember to keep your text below 280 letters and add hashtags and Twitter handles. Maybe the Mayor, MP or CEO you are targeting has a Twitter account and should be mentioned in the tweet?
For Facebook, start your text with a call to action, e.g. SIGN NOW! or Sign and share! and add one or two compelling sentences explaining your cause to the wider public.
Emailing: Email is a good way to reach people who might not use Facebook or Twitter regularly. Don’t be afraid to make your email personal and show how much you care about the campaign – people are more likely to take a look at your petition if they know it means a lot to you. Use the email list of your organisation or simply email your friends and family.
Get your supporters involved
Getting your supporters sharing your petition through Facebook, Twitter and email is key to spreading the word about your campaign and growing your petition. Ask them to share and explain that they can really make a difference to the campaign by doing so. Remember, the chances are that a lot of the people who’ve signed your petition will care about the issue as much as you do – so they’ll be just as motivated to help make the campaign a success.
Use campaign events and milestones: Have you just reached 5,000 signatures? Or maybe your issue got some important press attention? Significant events in your campaign are a great opportunity to revitalise your supporters. Head straight to social media and promote your petition again to capitalise on the key event or milestone and generate more support for your campaign.
Enter into partnership with WeMove: If you represent an organisation or a movement and your petition is going well, WeMove can in some cases support you in mobilising your supporters and spreading the word about your petition. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Beyond the Internet
Getting publicity: Local media coverage can give your campaign a real boost. If your petition is about a local issue, email or call up the local newspapers to ask if they want to write an article about your campaign. Be sure to include details of where the public can get more information and sign the petition.
Organising events: Publicity events are a great way to get attention for your campaign. You could stage a demonstration, organise a march, or get in touch with a local venue about running a publicity gig. The possibilities really are endless – let your creativity run wild!
STAGE 3: Meet your Decision Maker
Make your Decision Maker aware of your petition
Even the biggest numbers on the petition counter won’t mean that the Mayor, CEO or Minister you’re targeting are aware of your ask. Even if they have spotted your petition, they can choose to ignore it or even pretend they never saw it - what easier way to not do anything, right? That’s why you have to be persistent.
Twitter: Nowadays, the easiest way to approach your Decision Maker is to tweet at them directly. Find their twitter handle and write a brief text, e.g. The construction of the Motorway no. 45 must stop immediately! More than 3000 local people demand that from you, @XYZ. Will you listen to your voters? #StopMotorwayNo45. Ask other people to send similar tweets and look for the reaction. Sometimes a small twitter storm is enough for a politician to at least acknowledge the ask and meet with activists.
Contacting your Decision Maker
Be persistent: Virtual space is useful, but it is personal contact that usually makes the difference. In the beginning, you might want to use email to ask your Decision Maker for a reaction, but if you don’t hear back within a couple of days don’t be afraid to chase them up on the phone. If you don’t get an answer, keep trying until you do – don’t let your campaign go to waste because your Decision Maker missed your call. Be persistent, but don’t go over the top – remember you want your conversation to start on the right foot!
What to say: Clearly and concisely explain your concerns, tell them about your petition and set out what changes you would like them to make. If you’re planning to deliver your petition in person, let them know when you’ll be coming to do the hand-in and ask if they can be there to receive your petition and discuss it with you. Remember, always be polite – don’t give them any excuses to ignore you.
Planning your petition hand-in
When is the right moment? It’s often tricky to know when it’s the right time to deliver your petition. Sometimes this decision is made for you – there might be a key deadline around your issue coming up. Otherwise, look out for opportunities when delivering your petition might have maximum impact – like when your issue is getting a lot of media coverage. Remember, you don’t only get one chance to deliver your petition – you can keep handing it in as support for your campaign grows.
In person vs. by email: It’s always an option to deliver your petition by email or post, but where possible it’s great if you can deliver your petition in person. This is because you can use the hand-in event to help generate publicity and maximise the impact of your petition. It also gives you a brilliant opportunity to speak to your decision-maker in person. The more people there the better, so think about inviting your supporters to come along. And if you’re doing your hand-in in a public place, a publicity stunt is often a great way to raise awareness for your campaign.
Next steps for your campaign
Follow up with your decision-maker: If you get a firm response from your decision-maker the first time you speak to them, try to make sure you’ve got it down in writing. If they’ve agreed to make the changes you’re asking for, that’s great – let everyone know about your success, but don’t take your foot off the gas just yet! Make sure you agree on a specific timeline and follow up with them regularly to check that progress is being made. It’s possible your decision-maker won’t give you an immediate response the first time you speak to them, so don’t let them off the hook – keep checking up on them until they give you a definite answer.
Don’t give up: Your decision-maker might not give you the response you want to hear, but don’t give up. A refusal to make the changes you’re asking for doesn’t have to be the end of a campaign. In fact, bad news can often give a campaign a real boost. Go back to your supporters, tell them what’s happened and ask them to help you keep growing your petition until your decision-maker has no choice but to deliver the changes you’re asking for.
When you win, spread the word! Go to social media and celebrate! Every win that activists achieve on You Move encourages more people to take the plunge, start their own campaign, and get their voices heard. Step by step we’re making Europe a fairer, more democratic, more equal and environmentally friendly place to live.