Is there a clear goal?
Petitions should be specific, direct, and achievable. “Stop Government Corruption” by itself is too vague and is not likely to be successful, but a petition supporting a specific policy related to corruption (for example a bill that increases government transparency) has a more clearly defined and achievable goal.
Find out more about the problem
Knowing more about the issue you care about will help you craft a more effective petition. You may learn about other obstacles that need to be addressed before your petition will be effective. If you want to support or oppose a bill in Congress, you may want to know where that bill is in the process (Is it scheduled for a committee hearing? Is there a vote on the bill next week?). Research will also give you ideas about other facets of the problem you care about and more petition opportunities.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
It may be helpful to search through already existing petitions to see if some group or individual has already created a petition similar to yours. The main point of a petition is to consolidate many individual voices into one place for maximum effect; if there are multiple petitions that cover the same action or topic, it may be more effective to promote just one of them. If you care about an issue, perform a search to see if someone has already made the petition you were thinking of, and work with them to amplify the issue further.
Choose a clear target
A successful petition identifies a clear target that has the power to make a difference on your issue. The more specific you can be, the better.
A petition is just the start…
A petition is a means to an end, not an end in itself. You should consider what you want to do once your petition is live and gathering signatures. Is your goal to get a response from the target of the petition, to raise public awareness, or both? Your answers to these questions will shape how you present and craft your petition for maximum effectiveness.