Deliver Your Petition In Person

How to organise a great petition delivery

Successfully delivering your petition depends on three main elements: when it happens, who is there, and what it looks like. Here's a checklist to help organise a kick-ass delivery.

Petition Delivery Checklist

    •   Decide: Simple or Splashy?

      Not every petition delivery needs to be splashy. It can help your campaign to gain attention, or make a complicated issue easier to understand, but it's up to you to decide what's best for your action. Ultimately, the things you really need are: A team, a decision maker, and the petition.

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      Have a team

      You're already shown that you're a rockstar -- you've started this petition and have taken it this far already. For this next step, it's ideal to have a small team you can trust and rely on to help things go off without a hitch. Here's how a team can help:

      Spread the word.
      Your team can contact the media or recruit other volunteers to join the meeting or rally.

      Help with logistics.
      You'll need help preparing props (signs, banners, costumes) and printing out your petition.

      Back-up on delivery day.
      Team members can provide support on the day of the delivery, including getting members of the media to the right people and taking photos.

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      Determine your goals

      With your team, determine the goals of the delivery together. Every delivery is different. Are you hoping to set up a formal meeting with your decision maker? Gain media attention? Skip the fanfare and have a casual chat with your decision maker? Once you determine the goals of your delivery, decide how and when the petition delivery will be the most powerful. Here are some examples of possible petition delivery events:

      A scheduled meeting with your decision maker

      If your decision maker has been friendly and cooperative, simply scheduling a time to meet and deliver your signatures might make the most sense. This is a much less confrontational means of giving signatures, and you will likely tell the decision maker exactly what the meeting will look like.

      If you schedule a meeting, make sure you have a set agenda beforehand so that the conversation doesn't go off-topic. You can read more about how to do this here.

      A scheduled public event

      Is there a community hearing, public planning meeting, or town hall on the calendar relating to your petition? Delivering petitions at public events showcases community support and pressures decision makers — especially if they are elected officials.

      An externally planned event (crashing the party)

      Are you having trouble getting through to your decision maker? Sometimes the most powerful way to get their attention is to be where they are, whether it's a closed City Council meeting, annual corporate "General Meetings," or a ribbon cutting ceremonies.

      When doing this, follow the laws of your local government. Work with your team and go over possible scenarios. Is it better to approach your target on the public sidewalk, while the target is walking into the event? If it's best to go inside, does the petition starter know to leave immediately when asked?

      This is the riskiest of petition deliveries because your supporters have the least amount of control. However, when done well, they can be extraordinarily powerful.

      A press conference

      Sometimes, it isn't possible to schedule a meeting, there isn't a public event, and disrupting an existing event isn't wise. In that case, delivering the petitions to a legislative office or corporate headquarters is an option. Be sure to fully plan out your press conference with an agenda, review speaking roles, and confirm press prior to showing up.

      Think about where to hold your press conference. It's possible you'll want to go to an official building (City Hall, the US Embassy), but you may also want to head to a place that has to do with the campaign (the site of an accident, the scene of a crime, etc).

      Make sure you have a brief, pre-set agenda to give to reporters and attendees beforehand.

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      Make it awesome

      Now it's time to think about appearances. What will your delivery look like? With an attention-catching delivery style, you could attract media to your event. Some things to consider:

      • How large is the petition?
        Is there a way to represent signatures without printing several reams of paper? Should you turn over a thumb drive or disc with the petition file on it? If you do that, how will you make sure the delivery is still interesting?

        Can you use a visual hook for your petition?
        Can you roll out a "red carpet" or "banner" of signatures?

        Is there a creative visual that relates directly to your campaign?
        (Got a petition to save a supporter's home? Turn your signatures into a paper house. Working to free someone from jail? Turn your petition into chain links. Supporting workers' rights? Print the petitions on pink paper to give your target "pink slips.")

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      Plan an agenda

      Having the big picture in mind is the hard part. Now decide what happens when. Planning an agenda will make sure there's no dead space, and that your group looks organised to your decision maker and the media. Here's a sample event day agenda:

      9:45 a.m. Meet at a nearby coffee shop with supporters, check in volunteers, distribute signs
      10 a.m. Carry petition signatures to Burger Shack headquarters, pose for photos and talk with reporters
      10:10 a.m. Read statement outside headquarters to supporters and reporters
      10:15 a.m. Enter Burger Shack, shake hands with manager, deliver petition signatures
      10:30 a.m. Gather supporters and regroup at coffee shop

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        Alert the media

        Once you have your logistics down, you'll want to make sure press comes — even if you aren't doing a press conference. Here are some pointers on reaching out to the media. (Of course, if you are crashing someone's party, tipping off the press would be counterproductive. Be sure to use your best judgement.)

        For ways to get media interested in your campaign, learn how here.

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        Prepare for a response from your decision maker

        The more complicated your event, the more preparation you'll need. Be sure to keep that in mind when designing the action. (If you only really have one person, don't build a vision that requires 10 volunteers to pull off.) Review different scenarios for the each event:

          Scenarios to Prepare For

          What if your decision maker responds negatively?
          What if your decision maker refuses to accept the petition?
          What if the decision maker responds positively and accepts the demands?
          What if the decision maker offers an alternate solution?

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        Capture photos and videos from the event to use later

        Designate one person who's attending the event to document what happens with photo and video. You can upload these and send them to media outlets, supporters and your decision maker after the fact; it will also serve as an important record of what happened.

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          Report back and debrief

          Be sure to set a time to talk with your team after the event, the sooner the better. You'll want to discuss next steps and troubleshoot any issues that arose. Make sure you share photos, videos and what happened with your supporters -- and, if you want the result to be public, do press outreach about the event right away.

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        Next Tip:  Organise A Call-In Day