Write Your Own Action Alert

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 this case, talking about preemption, action alerts can 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 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/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 we’ve drafted below on sugary drink tax preemption. We’ve also included a template action alert that can be customized for any issue being preempted.



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.


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







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



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.

Template Action Alert for Preemption

Re: Our Community. Our Voice.

Dear [NAME],

[STATE] state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would prevent local leaders from passing laws that promote good health, well-being, and equity.


Local governments are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of the people they serve. They are often closer to their communities and more accountable to their constituents. They should be able to pass laws that will have a positive impact on their community like [ISSUE BEING PREEMPTED].

Everyone should benefit from smart and effective policies but when states block local leaders ability to innovate and enact laws that promote health it is often the communities with the greatest need who are hurt.

Visit [WEBSITE] today to learn more about what you can do to protect our local leader’s ability to meet the unique needs of [CITY/COUNTY].

Thank you,