Talk to Your Petition Target – The Decision Maker

Some petitions succeed without a dialogue or meeting with the petition target. For some it will increase your chance of winning if you reach out to them.

Step 1: Prepare
Decide how to contact your petition target, a meeting or a phone call? It’s worth it to talk to a representative of an organisation in order to find out the best way to approach your petition target.

Prepare a script of what you will ask him/her when you talk to them.  That is your ‘ask’; what you want them to do.

Brainstorm and practice different scenarios you may encounter, for example:
“The petition target is not available to speak with you.” Be persistent and polite. Explain who you are, ask when would be a good time to call again and if you could speak with someone else. Call at different times to follow up.

“We’re not aware of your petition.” Briefly explain your petition. Ask for an email address that you could send your petition to. In the email, ask for a date and time to meet up in person and to follow up.

“I’m not responsible for such decisions.” Ask if that’s really the case. Then ask politely who then would be the right target, press for a response and consider escalating your tactics, e.g. organise offline events or pitch to the media.

“We’ll get back to you on xx date.” Follow up by issuing a press release on xx date to counter.

“There’s nothing we can do.” Document this remark and consider taking it to the next level, e.g. the media. Make sure you don’t violate any laws or regulations.

“We’re going to make the change requested.” Try to get the petition target’s response in writing including a specific timeline that you have both agreed on.  Is it possible to find out how to monitor, or approve, the changes that the target puts into place?

Step 2: Call or Meet Your Petition Target
Be polite and firm. Practice prior to the call or a meeting. Wear a professional outfit (for the meeting).

When you meet with your petition target, introduce yourself, your petition, its goal and show that it has collected xx signatures.

Use the prepared script for potential discouraging scenarios listed above.

Try to agree on the ‘next steps’ before finishing the conversation or a meeting. Let them know you will follow up.

Step 3: Follow up
Thank your decision maker and remind him/her of your petition.

After your conversation or meeting, recap and thank them in an email.

Report back to your supporters. Be positive and ask for feedback and ideas.

If the conversation or meeting didn’t go well. It’s time to escalate – reach out to the media or plan offline events.

Next article: Declare Victory.