Online Petitions: Six messaging tips to help you win!

By Jeff Tippett

Imagine hundreds or even thousands of people helping you push policy changes—or stopping changes. Do you realize how much more effective you could be with them helping you? Well, people will help, but you have to find them and motivate them. To do this, online petitions could be one of your best tools, but do you
know how to effectively use them?

Every successful online petition has two major components: persuasive
messaging and tons of participants. In my next post, I’ll discuss ways to
market your petition and integrate it into your other communications
channels. For now, let’s focus on persuasive, effective messaging. This messaging takes strategy, skill, and careful planning. How do you message for success?

  1. Keep your message simple. You only have seconds.

Policy issues are almost never simple.To the contrary, they are extremely complex, but this complexity can bog down your participants, seem overwhelming, and reduce participation. So, boil down your message to something extremely simple. Say it in two to three sentences.

  1. Evoke emotions in your messaging. Especially anger.

When people care, they get involved. All emotions are not equal. As much as we may not like it, anger and hate can motivate and actuate participants.

  1. Take something from them. No one likes their toys taken away.

While prospect theory (what someone can gain) is sometimes the only option, look for ways to craft your messaging around what is being taken from participants. This is called loss aversion. You are more likely to get garner passionate participants if you stress what they are losing.

  1. Speak to people’s self-interest. They care about themselves the most.  

People really don’t care about your cause; they care about themselves. While I would love to believe we are motivated by the general good for all people, the truth is most people are motivated for their own self interest. So, ask yourself how your cause affects them. Make sure you message in a way that motivates them—personally.

  1. Craft a strong CTA. That means call to action.

What do you want people to do? Why should they do it? When should they do it?

I generally advocate for a single call to action. If there are multiple actions you want, consider incremental steps. For example, if you want them to sign your petition and follow on social media, consider only asking them to sign the petition. Once participants have signed, follow up with prompts to follow on social media. People easily get confused and drop when it’s not clear what they should do–or if you are asking them to do too many things at once. Again, keep in mind you only have seconds.

  1. Tell participants how much time you require. And it should be 60 seconds or less.

While you may capture participants’ attention, motivate them through solid messaging—they are still weighing out how much time it will take to participate. Everyone is busy, and we’ve all responded to a call to action only to get bogged down and quit. Once you get participants this far in the cycle, don’t lose them. Give them a clue like: “Sign this petition in less than 60 seconds.” If you’ve crafted compelling messaging, they will likely give you 60 seconds.

The success or failure of your online petition largely depends on your messaging. Your messaging will make—or break your campaign. So, keep these six tips in mind. And reach out for help if you need guidance or get stuck. And let’s build a large group of passionate people to help you affect the change you want!

Watch the video here.

Is Kindness The Best Way to Build Your Brand?

Fires burned in Asheville while people in Raleigh donated to help out.

Fires burned in Asheville while people in Raleigh donated to help out.

What is your brand? Is it your logo, your color palette or your trendy new office? At Targeted Persuasion, we know your brand is ultimately how the public perceives your organization. Logos, colors and spaces certainly play a part in that perceptions, but there’s one element of personal and organizational branding that’s often overlooked – kindness.

For example, brands in the hospitality industry are expected to provide quality service to their paying customers, but their many acts of kindness toward the broader community usually go unnoticed. However, by actively scanning social media, Targeted Persuasion staff discovered an opportunity to show kindness during chaos.With wildfires burning across Western North Carolina, a local mayor posted to Facebook a list of items firefighters needed. We knew a Raleigh-area restaurateur known for supporting first responders, so we alerted him immediately.

We initially asked if the restaurateur was interested in acting as a collection point for supplies that we could ship out to Asheville. Not only was he willing to collect supplies, but he filled his large SUV with supplies and headed to the mountains that very Friday.

To help ensure our client’s kindness was shared with the community, we alerted media the supplies would be coming. Since this client needs to continually engage elected officials, we contacted the area’s state representative to help receive the supplies. As a result, media were on hand to interview the local representative and the Raleigh restaurateur.

We know your organization or business wants to do good because it’s the right thing to do, but are you actively seeking these opportunities to offer kindness? Are you sharing your contributions with media to help build your brand? Be sure to intentionally seek opportunities and expand your reach through media. You can build your brand through acts of kindness if you make it a part of your communications plan.

Why not start today?

Doing Good: Building your brand as you build relationships

500 people gather as elected leaders serve Thanksgiving dinner.

500 people gather as elected leaders serve Thanksgiving dinner.

One exciting shift for organizations and businesses is a drive to actively seek ways to give back to their community and make a meaningful impact. Groups are finding causes that line up with their goals and objectives, connecting with them to seek opportunities, and building their brand in the process.

Targeted Persuasion helped a national client expand and promote a local Thanksgiving dinner in Asheville, NC. This dinner brought together restaurateurs, elected officials, and a segment of the community that needed to feel fed and valued for a heart-warming evening. In fact, the Mayor, several city council members and county commissioners volunteered to help serve over 500 meals to those in attendance with another 200 meals being packed up and delivered directly to the community. Part of our responsibility was to include the local media. WLOS, Fox Carolina, and the Asheville Citizens-Times all reported on the event, expanding the brand awareness of our client.

Why does this matter?

For many younger employees, giving back is built into their DNA. It’s who they are. It matters to them. Companies have learned that attracting them is not just about allowing these employees to donate time; it’s about actively creating opportunities for employees to give back to their community. A secondary benefit is team building. The team building that’s innate to these opportunities has the ability to positively impact productivity and corporate culture.

Organizations are quickly learning that giving back is one of the best ways to positively affect their brand and increase brand awareness within the community. And if the group needs to maintain solid relationships with elected officials, it’s a win/win for the group and the elected officials. The combination of face-to-face encounters and media coverage, can give your organization the type of exposure that opens new opportunities.

It’s about doing good. And this good can make your employees feel rewarded and valued while earning your organization positive media attention.

So, what good are you doing this holiday season? It’s not too late!