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 email, a letter, phone call or social media like Facebook or Twitter, action alerts can be used to accomplish a variety of goals. In the case of promoting awareness of and engagement around water access in schools, action alerts can be used to educate residents in your community about your specific local need and to strengthen advocates’ engagement with your campaign.

We’ve included an example of an “Issue Introduction” 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, mode of communication and messenger for your alert.
  • Subject lines can often determine whether someone even opens your message. Make sure to keep them brief, include a sense of urgency and provide a preview of your message to spark 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.
  • 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. If a name is not available through your database, a generated term should be inserted like “friend” or “supporter.”
  • 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 finally tells the reader why they should take action immediately.

Now, let’s walk through an example!

“Issue Introduction” Action Alert

Email Subject Line

Take Action Today: Help Ensure Students in [STATE OR COUNTY] Have Access to Water Next School Year

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],

Water is a basic human need – something we cannot live without. Yet many schools across [STATE OR COUNTY] don’t provide access to safe water to students throughout the school day. 

We know that water plays an important role in maintaining a child’s overall health. Water helps children’s muscles, joints and tissues. When water is not available, children tend to have more sugary drinks, like sports drinks, fruit-flavored drinks with added sugar, energy drinks and soda—all of which contain empty calories and are linked to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

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

A national survey published in 2015 showed that more than half of school-aged children weren’t drinking enough water. Schools should make water widely available via water dispensers, water bottle filling stations or water fountains, at no cost, throughout the day and at mealtimes. 

Include a hyperlink here to give people another opportunity to get involved.

Join our cause and help advocate for water access in [STATE OR COUNTY] schools today.

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,