Write Your Own Action Alerts
Action alerts are direct messages, or calls-to-action, that you can send by e-mail, letter, or even Facebook, in order to 1) educate residents in your community about your issue, 2) provide them with the opportunity to take action, and 3) put your advocates in direct touch with local legislators to prompt policy change.
We’ve included two different examples of action alerts, an “Issue Introduction” alert and a “Contact Your Legislator” alert, to guide you through the process of writing your own. Before we get started, here are a few general tips to keep in mind:
- Consider who is the right sender or messenger for your action alert. Recipients may be more likely to take action on behalf of the issue if they see the sender as integral to solving the issue, a person of influence who is directly connected to the cause, or perhaps someone who is personally impacted by the issue the policy is addressing.
- Subject lines determine whether someone opens your message, so make sure to keep them short, include a sense of urgency, and provide a preview of your message to tap into the reader’s curiosity. There are free resources online that will help test how likely your subject line is to be seen as spam.
- Include a brief background or update on your campaign to reinforce your goals and help your advocates understand your cause. Creating a sense of understanding will connect your audience to your campaign and encourage them to take a specific action, like signing a petition or reaching out to decision makers.
- Include the state, town, county, or school district in the subject line and the body of the message to make the message more relevant for your audience.
- Consider the story arch and narrative flow of your message to clearly identify the issue, how your campaign is working to resolve it, and how the reader can get involved. Include stats, links to outside resources, and an area they can go to find out more information or take action in follow up to your message.
Now, let’s walk through two examples!
Teaching children healthy eating habits is critical to their long-term health. Parents strive to instill healthy habits at home and schools have worked hard to improve the nutritional quality of school meals, snacks, and beverages sold in schools. Those efforts shouldn’t be undermined by unhealthy food marketing directed at children in schools.
Food marketing affects children’s food choices, and unfortunately, the majority of foods and beverages marketed to children in schools are unhealthy. Companies market unhealthy foods and beverages in schools on posters and signs, vending machine exteriors, advertisements on buses, and through the use of logos, brand names, and spokes characters on educational materials, sports uniforms, scoreboards, incentive programs, sponsorships, and coupons.
Include a link to your informational resources, organization website, blog, or sign-up sheet. If someone is interested in your cause, give them the opportunity to get involved right away.
[YOUR ORGANIZATION] is working hard to protect our children from these negative influences by eliminating unhealthy food and beverage marketing in our schools, but it’s clear that we can’t do this alone.
This is a good place to mention your state or local community, so your advocates feel connected to the issue.
Click here to learn more about how your efforts could help [STATE] kids: [LINK TO INFORMATIONAL RESOURCES].
With in-school junk food marketing everywhere from the classrooms to screensavers to sports jerseys, kids’ food preferences are being shaped to prefer the unhealthy foods marketed to them every day in [STATE]’s schools. There’s so much more we can do to protect our children from these unhealthy influences, and you can be a part of it. Learn how today at [LINK TO INFORMATIONAL RESOURCES AND SIGNUP FORM].
If you’re the leader of your campaign, include your name here. If someone else is the main point of contact, and you’re writing this action alert on behalf of a larger group, make sure to include that person’s name and/or the name of your organization. If you are using someone else’s name, be sure to have them review the text and provide you with their approval before the message is sent.
[ORGANIZATION LEADER OR MAIN POINT OF CONTACT]
“Contact Your Legislator” Action Alert
If legislative change is needed to create more support for removing junk food marketing from schools in your area, then be sure to reach out to your elected officials to educate them about your cause and tell them how they can be involved. Use this kind of action alert to empower your advocates to send letters to their representatives either about a specific bill (lobbying) or to support your cause in general (non-lobbying).
If there is a bill pending in the legislature, then the following action alert would be grassroots lobbying because it is a communication to the public that reflects a view on specific legislation and includes a call-to-action. If there is no pending bill and the email is simply asking legislators to support a sensible policy, then it would not be lobbying and you could use non-lobbying dollars to pay for all related costs.
Create a sense of urgency in your subject line to spark immediate action, and include the state or local community to make the message more personal.
E-mail Subject Line
Ex. [STATE] kids need our help now!
Reference that we can work together to resolve this issue, but that we also need our elected officials to be involved in creating change as well.
Many of us have seen examples of junk food marketing in [STATE]’s schools: soda pop advertised on the scoreboards of football fields and pizza banners plastered to the sides of buses. We even see it in the coupons given to students as rewards for reading books.
Schools are supposed to be safe places. They not only teach math and science, but also health and wellness. Allowing companies to market junk food to kids in schools seems like a big contradiction to us. We plan to do something about it, but we need your help.
Stand with us, and tell our state legislators you support the elimination of unhealthy food and beverage marketing in schools and on buses in [STATE].
Protecting [STATE]’s children from these marketing tactics is key to teaching them healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime and will keep companies from undermining parents’ best efforts to feed their children well. Help do your part by asking your state legislator to keep our schools free of marketing for unhealthy food and drinks. Click here to take action today! [REPEAT LINK TO ACTION]
If you’re the leader of your campaign, include your name here. If someone else is the main point of contact, and you’re writing this action alert on behalf of a larger group, make sure to include that person’s name and/or the name of the organization you represent. If you are using someone else’s name, be sure to have them review the text and provide you with their approval before the message is sent.
[ORGANIZATION LEADER OR MAIN POINT OF CONTACT]