Activist toolkit

Practical tips

These are some practical tips to help with things like letter writing and handling the media.

How to write a good letter:

  • Get to the point
  • Say at the beginning what you want them to do
  • Explain why you want them to do it
  • Use some examples to show what you have said
  • Analyse what you have said
  •  Summarize everything you have said and restate your point
  • Do it formally (no or little slang)
  • Check your facts with good research 
  • Read over your letter and make sure your spelling and grammar is correct
  • Use simple words and write clearly
  • Don’t use swear words

How to organise a petition, campaign or protest:

  • Advertise!
    • If you want to spread the word about your campaign, you have to advertise
    • Put up posters around town
    • Advertise on social media platforms
    • Email, text, contact everyone you know
  • Contact the politicians
    • Let them know what you are doing
    • If you can, try and get some politicians to come along and speak at the event
  • Work really, really hard
    • Organizing an event like this is really hard, so you have to make sure that it’s really what you want to do
  • Know exactly what you want
    • If you are going to organize a huge event like this, you have to have the reasons you are unhappy and a solution to the problem or some demands
    • Make sure the solution/demands are reasonable and realistic
  • Don’t do propaganda (e.g don’t say “Repeat after me!”) 
    • Lots of organizers like to have speakers come up and tell people what to say, but contrary to popular belief, this really annoying, and gives off the vibe that you are trying to tell them what to think. Instead have speakers present evidence that what the government/whoever is responsible for the problem is wrong.
    • It is okay to organise chants just while marching, but not in between speeches.

Handling the Media:

  • Don’t be scared
    • Journalists/reporters are usually really nice people so there is no reason to be scared
    • They have probably dealt with people a lot more nervous than you, so know how to help
    • Even if you stuff up really bad you can always retake the shot
  • It’s not your job to fill up the space 
    • Don’t get sucked into trying to fill up the space
    • If you do it can be dangerous because it can make you say things that you don’t want to say
  • Don’t be scared to correct yourself
    • It’s always better to just say ‘sorry I meant this’ rather than ignore it and keep speaking, especially if what you said was factually incorrect.
  • Stay calm. It doesn’t look like you know what you’re doing otherwise.
    • If you are looking really nervous on camera, then you could come off as trying to hide something 
  • Don’t use palm cards too much, and don’t show them to the camera too much.
    • Otherwise it may look like someone else wrote everything you have to say!
    • A way to avoid this is by practicing your interview beforehand (you could even ask your parents to ask you questions an interviewer might ask)
  • Always check your claims!
    • This is probably the most important tip
    • This is really important because as long as you have checked all your claims and everything you say is factually correct, you have credibility.
    • Credibility is really important if you want people to believe what you are saying
  • Don’t criticize the person, it’s better to criticize the policy/action
    • This is something many politicians need to learn
    • As I said before in ‘Activism in Schools’ you have to be respectful
    • This not only makes you more credible, but it makes sure that you aren’t just criticizing, you are finding a solution
  • Stay on track
    • Make sure you don’t start talking about one thing and then another and then another
  • Don’t avoid questions (It makes you look like you’re trying to hide something)
    • It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers, especially if you’re only a child
    • If you can’t answer a question because you don’t know the answer, it’s okay to say that you don’t know

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