Write your headline

Your headline is your first opportunity to engage readers with your petition and make it clear what change you want.

Be brief
Your headline is the one thing that people will see on social media. So try to keep it to less than ten words, and make sure it makes sense on its own.

Example:

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Focus on the solution
Readers want to know specifically what change you want to make so they can decide whether to sign your petition. Your headline is the place to focus on the solution.

Example:

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Use a hook
Get people’s attention by making your headline emotional and urgent. Make it clear who is affected and why you care. If there are key dates or time pressure on your petition, include that information too.

Example:

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Choose your Decision Maker

By including an email address for the right decision makers, you can let them know about your petition and give readers confidence that your petition can win.

Pick people, not a group or organisation
Unlike an organisation, people can be held directly accountable. Make your decision maker the person or people within an organisation who are responsible for your solution or who you need to convince. For example "Councillor John Smith" rather than "Brisbane City Council"

Choose someone directly responsible
It’s better to target the people who can give you what you want rather than more senior, public figures. Someone directly responsible can make a decision and implement your solution faster. They are also more sensitive to public pressure because they aren’t used to it.

Include their email
Change.org will automatically notify your decision maker when a petition is set up and when it gets signatures. So it’s important to include the right email address. To find it you can:

  1. Use internet searches and check inside PDF documents like conference presentations, board papers or online press releases
  2. Use the company email convention and try variations. For example to contact Tallah Smith you might try t.smith@company.com, tallah@company.com, smith@company.com, tallah.smith@company.com. The email that doesn’t bounce is right!
  3. Visit official Australian Government websites - most politicians have their email addresses publicly available (remember Ministerial and Electorate offices usually have different emails)
  4. Call and ask!

 

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Tell your Story

A good movie grabs and holds our attention because it includes all the elements of successful storytelling. Petitions are no different!

The below petition is a good example of good storytelling because:

The issue and people affected are introduced up front
A personal story can help drive empathy and drive those not familiar with the people involved, or the issue, to sign your petition. It’s important to capture attention in the first few paragraphs!

It is emotional
Emotive language can help potential signers engage with the emotional toll of the issue and help them step into your shoes to understand the reality of the situation.

There is a sense of hope
Make it clear what you hope to achieve and how you can do so with the help of signers.

The stakes are high
Detail what will happen if the outcome isn’t achieved - detail the obstacles that stand in the way and the personal stakes and emotion tied to this outcome. Make it clear what happens if you win and what happens if you lose.

 

 
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It's watching my beautiful 2 year old play that shatters me most now. I was diagnosed with an aggressive melanoma cancer fourteen years ago. It devastated us. 

What's been keeping me alive – and giving us hope that I'll beat this awful disease is new wonder drug MK-3475, but because the government is still yet to put it on the PBS we're going broke and could have my cancer treatment cut short.

Doctors around the world say MK-3475 could save my life and many others. Just trialling the drug has reduced my tumour size by 70%. It's costing us $10,500 every 3 weeks and we can't afford to self-fund the hugely expensive treatment much longer. 

I can't believe that the cancer drug that could save my life is slipping out of reach because of these mindless government delays.

They need to put it on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme immediately. It's what doctors, cancer sufferers and experts are all saying. And we've got a chance to convince the government to act in the next few weeks before they meet in March. 

This decision could mean life or death for me. It could mean seeing my little boy grow up or not. But this is about more than just my family. 1,400 people are dying from melanoma every year in Australia – it's one of the biggest, silent killers. Yet we're dragging behind the US and Japan in approving this new treatment.

Please, Mr Abbott – don't let cancer sufferers like me die waiting for this drug, add MK-3475 to the PBS immediately. Step in and do something to help us. We're begging you.

Thank you for reading, and please sign my petition to add your support. 

Shane, Danielle and 2 year-old Jett Raisher

 

Choose an Image

Along with your headline, your image will be the first thing that readers see. Your image is also the image that will be seen when people share your petition on social media.

Show emotion
A great photo captures the emotion of your petition and tells a story in an instant. Photos of people or animals work well.

A bigger image is better
Try to upload photos that are 1600 x 900 pixels or larger so they look good on all screen sizes.

Look for photos online
The best photo is one that you own. But if you don’t have a photo, you can search sites like Flickr or Google Images. Use the advanced search options to find large size images that the creator has licensed for reuse.

Example:
This was the photo that Lucy Haslam used on her petition to get medicinal cannabis approved by the Federal Government, after her son’s death from terminal cancer:

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