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 and Twitter, action alerts can be used to accomplish a variety of goals. In the case of promoting awareness of and engagement around school wellness policies, 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, 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. If a name is not available through your database, a generated term should be inserted like “friend/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 tells the reader why they should take action immediately.

Now, let’s walk through an example!

“Issue Introduction” Action Alert


E-mail Subject Line

Ex. YOU Can Help Kids Be Healthier at [SCHOOL]

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],

Studies show that healthy, active children learn better, but many children aren’t getting the proper nutrition and physical activity they need each day. In fact, more than one in three children is at increased risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, and cancer later in life. Children who live in lower-income communities are especially affected because the neighborhoods often lack places to buy nutritious food and don’t have the facilities, equipment, and space for children to be regularly active.

However, some areas across the country have found a solution that works: [INFORMATIONAL RESOURCES LINK]

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

[SCHOOL DISTRICT]’s local wellness policy can be the perfect tool to help the kids in our community learn healthy nutrition and physical activity habits that will help them grow up to be healthy adults.

Specifically, our local wellness policy can and should align with updated nutrition standards for school meals and snacks; ensure our children have access to clean drinking water throughout the day; encourage school celebrations and classroom rewards that support healthy eating and physical activity; and so much more.

By working together to [CREATE or UPDATE] and effectively implement our [SCHOOL DISTRICT]’s local wellness policy, we can equip the children in our community with knowledge and healthy behaviors that will last a lifetime.

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

Raise Your Hand and join our effort.

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,