TALK TO ELECTED OFFICIALS
If you’ve ever felt like your voice is too small or what you think about specific issues isn’t important, think again! Small voices can have a big impact when we join together. Emailing, writing and calling national, state and local elected officials is a great way to let your voice be heard. Elected officials are supposed to listen to us, but we can’t make them listen if we aren’t contacting them.
So how do you know when it’s the right time to reach out? And what should you say? How do you get your message to the right people? Let’s find out!
WHY SHOULD I CONTACT MY ELECTED OFFICIALS?
Politicians may seem like the enemy but, as elected officials, they need to hear the concerns of the people. Sometimes officials can’t keep up with all of the critical issues, so it is up to us to make them aware when something needs to be addressed. The earlier you get information to the right people, the better.
WHAT SHOULD I SAY WHEN I CONTACT ELECTED OFFICIALS?
- Don’t overlook the power of praise! Leading a request with an afirmation on prior policy can open a lot more doors than jumping in with criticism.
- Be very clear about the issue at hand and give specific details. Provide important facts but also speak about how you are personally affected by the issue. Just talk about one issue at a time so it is not confusing.
- Don’t forget to ask specific questions. Asking a question provides officials with a reason to respond to you.
HOW CAN I CONTACT MY ELECTED OFFICIALS?
Politicians, even local ones, have very busy schedules, but that doesn’t mean your voice won’t be heard. There are several ways to connect with officials; choose the one that works best for you.
- Face-to-Face – A face-to-face meeting can be very productive if you are prepared. Town Hall and City Board meetings are great options for catching up with your local officials, but you may need to sign up in advance to be added to the agenda. You can also catch up with local officials or a staff member by going directly to their office.
- Via Email, Phone or Postal Service – Reaching out by email, phone or postal service is a great option. But don’t get frustrated as it can take up to six weeks to receive a reply.
WHO DO I NEED TO CONTACT?
SIGNING A PETITION
If you’re anything like us, you regularly look for ways to support wildlife, and you’ve probably come across a petition or two.
In fact, petitions regularly pop up in my Facebook feed. I sometimes sign them but I often wonder if I should. Does signing a petition really make a difference? Is the petition legitimate? Should I be worried about fraud? Let’s find out!
DOES SIGNING A PETITION MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Petitions can be a valuable tool when advocating for change. In the digital world in which we live, you are more likely to encounter an online petition than someone with a pen and a clipboard. But are they useful? A petition can positively impact legislation and public opinion. Plus the help to gain media attention. Look at what happened when over 20,000 people signed a petition to stop a coyote killing contest in New York. It was cancelled!
HOW DO I KNOW IF A PETITION IS VALID?
When you come across four or five petitions each day, it feels like overload, and it can be difficult to discern a valid petition for one phishing for personal information. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before signing:
- Who’s sponsoring this petition? Is it an organization I trust?
- Is the change the petition suggests something that can be accomplished? Stopping all hunting worldwide would not be likely, but implementing guidelines related to specific species is an attainable goal.
- How important is this cause for you? Once you sign a petition, you may be contacted to do more. You could be asked to donate money or become a vocal activist in your area.
HOW TO SPOT A “FAKE” PETITION?
Note that there have been a few instances of phishing scams that imitated legitimate organizations. When in doubt, go to the organization’s website as the link to the petition should also be found there.
- Watch out for spelling and grammar issues or poor use of English.
- Check that the website is a site with which you are familiar.
- Do a cross-check on Google.
- Watch out for petitions that require you to give too much information. Most valid petitions only require your name, address and signature.
ACTION STEPS YOU CAN TAKE?
- Take a few minutes to research any new petitions that you come across.
- Avoid sharing petitions if you aren’t certain of their origin.
- Start your own petition for a cause important to you. We like the site https://www.care2.com/.
So why should I post on social media? The best reason we know is to provide folks with hope they can make a difference. With all the negative stories being circulated today, it is always welcome to read a success story or learn cool new animal facts or an easy positive action you can take to help our planet. And posting on social media is a great way to bring far reaching attention to wildlife and conservation issues. But when and where should I post?
Our simple rule of thumb is post when you have something important to share. Don’t get bogged down with what’s the best time to post, what images to use, proper phrasing, yadda, yadda, yadda. Just make sure you’re getting your point across both clearly and accurately. Plus, give the reader hope and ways they can get involved.
HOW DO I MAKE MY POST INTERESTING?
- Use a great photo – animals can be adorable! You can find free photos on both Pixabay and Unsplash.
- Share a cool fact that many people may not know (like why do vultures poop on their legs?).
- Share success stories.
- Ask a question that requires more than a yes or no answer.
- Provide a call to action that allows your followers to do more.
IS THERE ANYTHING I SHOULD AVOID?
- Gruesome photos
- False information
- Being accusatory or blaming to readers
- Using outdated information (time after time people post years old articles.)
SHOULD I POST DIFFERENT THINGS ON DIFFERENT PLATFORMS?
We use both Facebook and Instagram regularly. We still haven’t figured out all the other social media platforms (let us know if you have some good tips). While your message can be similar, there are a few things you can do differently with each.
TIPS FOR FACEBOOK
- Use the share button to share posts from your favorite accounts.
- Share or create an event.
- Tag your favorite pages. You can also invite your friends to like pages you support.
- Create a donation request using the donate now feature.
- Create a watch party to view a video.
- Share your own videos. Both live video and recorded video are compelling.
- Add links. Links are clickable in Facebook posts and allow you to include outside information with your post.
- Ask your friends to share your posts.
TIPS FOR INSTAGRAM
- Choose great photos.
- Write fun and informative captions.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- Tag relevant pages in your caption or on your photo.
- Include relevant hashtags. (If you aren’t sure which hashtags to use, check out the ones that your favorite wildlife pages are using.)
- Use Instastories to share quick bits of information or to share posts from other accounts.
ACTION STEPS YOU CAN TAKE
- Check out Weiler Woods on Facebook and Instagram and see what we post.
- Take a look at the organizations we trust to share their success stories.
- Share a photo on Instagram of your favorite wildlife cause and add three to five relevant hashtags.
- Share a post on Facebook of a fun animal or plant fact with a great picture and ask your friends to like your post.