There are many great avenues you can choose from thanks to the beauty of the internet but further than the creation of an online petition, what are some things that you can do to make sure that your petition continues moving strong?
This article takes a look at some great ideas that you can implement into your petition strategy to make sure that the mass of people you have assembled behind your cause is well led and instructed. Being a good leader will help to focus your group and make sure that benchmarks are met.
Online petitions are everywhere. Increasingly news stories contain the line “an online petition has attracted thousands of signatures”, while Twitter and Facebook feeds are awash with people looking for support. The Government likes them so much they set up their own site. But are they any good and do they work?
My answer (unsurprisingly from someone who runs the UK branch of the world’s largest petition site) is ‘yes’ – but in themselves, petitions are only the start of a dynamic and exciting campaign journey. Petitions can win with ten signatures or with 10 million signatures. Despite the best efforts of the UK government to make 100,000 signatures the arbitrary petition signer threshold for access to our own elected leaders, there are no hard and fast rules. It’s not the size of the petition, it’s what the signers do that counts.
Petitions are simply a big group of people. As such they are the basis of your movement – the army you assemble to march toward your target. An un-commanded army is just a group of people ambling about. When you start the petition you are the general of this army and the soldiers need to be well commanded and well armed. In this incredibly stretched metaphor, you arm them with tactics to convey the message.
On Change.org we have hundreds of examples of ordinary individuals who’ve got people to do extraordinary things. One of the best is Lucy Holmes who has been using Change.org (as well as Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, TV and newspapers) to ask the editor of the Sun newspaper to drop page three.
She’s got an 85,000 strong petition which, in and of itself, won’t win it alone. It’s the activity around it – the two way conversation she has with her supporters that makes the campaign so powerful. It’s the creative tactics like Leanne (a ‘Lego page 3 model’) that engages existing supporters, brings in new ones and generates publicity: a virtuous circle that’s made this one of the biggest people powered movements of recent times.
Then there’s Jayne Linney – ATOS wouldn’t record her disability assessment after continually getting her details wrong, despite ministerial statements that they would do. She started a Change.org petition and got a relatively modest 1,500 signatures but by combining this with traditional tactics like writing to MPs and calling local journalists she won her campaign too.
There was a great line in a local newspaper about a petition on our site, “the petition gathered over 12 signatures in two days” it’s easy to laugh – but it proves that there’s no magic number. And nor should there be. Campaigning is about taking people on a journey, engaging them in conversation and making them think about what they’re doing.