Based on what we’ve seen on Civic Shout so far, along with our decades of experience in the industry, here are some quick tips on publishing great Civic Shout petitions that convert well:

  1. Use a compelling headline: An ideal petition headline grabs people’s attention and immediately makes clear what real-world change the petition is calling for. A grassroots supporter who reads your petition headline should be able to tell from that alone what the petition is about. Ideally, if there’s room, calling out the target by name in the headline also helps. We’ve found that headlines in title case tend to work best (i.e. Tell Congress: Tax the Rich!)
  2. Use an eye-catching photo: All Civic Shout petitions require an image, but not all images are equally effective. We’ve found that high-quality photos of a person or group of people, cropped in to focus on their faces, tend to work best. And we strongly encourage you not to overlay graphics or text on the photo – a simple photograph is all you need, and that’s easier on your end than adding text or graphics to a photo anyway. Here are some tips on finding great copyright-free images you can use.
  3. Include a concrete ask: The ask in the description section of your petition should be as specific and concrete as possible. For example, a petition calling for Congress to protect voting rights should ideally name a specific bill that has been introduced or that Congress is actively considering, rather than a generic ask. More specifically, your petition headline is a great place to say something like “Tell Congress Protect Voting Rights,” while the description gives you the opportunity to specify that the petition is in support of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
  4. Clearly identify the decision maker: People don’t like to sign petitions that don’t have a clearly identified decision maker as the target. You can address that by making it very clear in the description section who the petition is targeting. For example, you might include something like: “Can you sign our petition calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act without further delay?”
  5. Include a compelling theory of change: A theory of change is a narrative explaining why taking the action is likely to lead to the desired change you’re seeking in the world. For example, you might articulate the fact that Congress has been responsive to grassroots pressure in the past, and that an overwhelming amount of grassroots activism is our best chance to pressure individual senators to take a stand for voting rights. Or you might specify in your petition description that signing the petition is the first step in a broader effort involving call campaigns and/or protests to build momentum toward a policy change.
  6. Incorporate a timely hook: If there’s a deadline for people to join your campaign, specifying that to build urgency can make your petition much more compelling than it might be otherwise. Or, simply pointing out that the issue you’re working on has been in the news lately can help make the case that it’s a good time to strike while the iron is hot.