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Write Your Own Action Alerts

What’s an Action Alert?

Action alerts are messages that spur your advocates and the general public to get involved with your campaign. Whether by e-mail, a letter, phone call, or even on Facebook, action alerts can be used to accomplish a variety of goals: 1) To educate residents in your community about your issue; 2) To strengthen advocates’ engagement with your campaign; or 3) To put your advocates in direct touch with public officials to prompt policy change.

We’ve included two different examples of action alerts below, 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:

  • Know your audience! This will help you determine the appropriate frame, tone, activation, and messenger for your alert.
  • 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 as well as other key metrics. www.subjectline.com is one option, but do an online search to find the one that is right for you.
  • Make sure to include the name of the person you’re contacting. Depending on how you are sending your message, this may need to be done manually, or through a merge field from your online contact database.
  • Include a brief background or update on your campaign to reinforce your goals and help your advocates understand your cause. Creating a base level 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.
  • Clear action links should be included in your message. Using bolded text and call-out boxes can help draw readers’ attention to the goal.
  • Include the state, town, or county in the subject line and/or body of the message to make the message more relevant for your audience.
  • Consider the story arc 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. Strategically include compelling statistics, links to resources, and clear calls-to-action to help tell a story.

Problem, Solution, Urgency! Write your action alert in a way that first highlights the problem, then offers a solution, and tells the reader why they should take action now.

Now, let’s walk through two examples!

“Issue Introduction” Action Alert

E-mail Subject Line

Ex. Be a part of the healthy solution!

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.

Dear [NAME],

In cities, towns, and rural areas across the country, millions of people struggle to find the nutritious foods they need to be healthy. Yet, for many of our neighbors, the path to a healthier life is just around the corner.

Roughly 29.7 million people in America have limited access to healthy foods, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and lean meat. These families live in areas without traditional grocery stores or farmers’ markets and rely on local convenience or corner stores for food. However, these small food stores commonly sell highly processed foods that are high in fat, sodium, and sugar and low in nutrients. Even worse, the healthy options that are available in corner stores are usually more expensive.

Every family should have access to the foods that help support a balanced diet and ultimately, a healthier life. Encouraging decision makers to incentivize corner store owners to improve their healthy food offerings can make the difference. Across the country, initiatives are currently underway to help more people get better access to healthy, affordable food: [LINK TO INFORMATIONAL RESOURCES/CASE STUDY].

Convenience stores are often familiar establishments in a neighborhood’s retail landscape. By making small changes in what they already offer their customers, those stores could make a big difference in the neighborhoods they serve. A healthy change from one corner store could make a lasting impact for children and families in [AREA], too—click here to learn how. [LINK TO INFORMATIONAL RESOURCES]

This is a good place to mention your state or local community, so your advocates feel connected to the issue.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing more about how [ORGANIZATION] is ensuring that healthy, affordable food is just around the corner, including opportunities for you to get involved. We hope you’ll join us in helping to bring fresh food choices to neighborhoods across [STATE].

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.

Thank you,

[ORGANIZATION LEADER OR MAIN POINT OF CONTACT]

“Contact Your Legislator” Action Alert

If legislative change is needed to create more support for healthy corner store initiatives 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.

E-mail Subject Line

Ex. THIS could make the difference for our kids!

Dear [NAME],

Think back to the last time you went inside a convenience store. What were you looking for? What did you buy? I remember wandering the aisle looking for something that was at least a little healthy. I walked out with a bottle of water and a package of baked chips…not exactly the best snack.

Now imagine that convenience store is the only place nearby where you can shop for your family’s meals. What would that be like? What could you possibly prepare that would be good for your kids? You may even be wondering why anyone would even consider trying to do that.

Roughly 29.7 million people in America have limited access to healthy foods, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and lean meat. These families live in areas without traditional grocery stores or farmers’ markets, and many have to rely on local convenience or corner stores for food.

Convenience stores are often familiar establishments in a neighborhood’s retail landscape. By making small changes in what they already offer their customers, those stores could make a big difference in the neighborhoods they serve. A healthy change from one corner store could make a lasting impact for children and families in living without access to healthy food.

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.

You can help bring healthy food to convenience stores across [STATE], encourage healthier eating, and help kids grow up at a healthy weight—by speaking out for improved healthy options. We need you to tell your legislator to support this vital issue.

Join us as we work to increase access to healthy food for children and families. Click here to contact your state representative about healthy foods in corner stores. [LINK TO ACTION]

Everyone deserves easy access to food that will keep them living long, healthy lives, and putting fresh food offerings in local convenient stores can help make that happen. Contact your representative 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.

Thank you,

[ORGANIZATION LEADER OR MAIN POINT OF CONTACT]