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Ecomagination writer's style guide

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Ecomagination writer's style guide

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Headed up the ecomagination.com site redesign at frog in 2011, where I created this style guide to keep our bloggers, influencers and agency partners on the same page.

Headed up the ecomagination.com site redesign at frog in 2011, where I created this style guide to keep our bloggers, influencers and agency partners on the same page.

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Ecomagination writer's style guide

  1. 1. 1 ecomagination.com Writer’s Style Guide
  2. 2. 2 Table of Contents What The Site Stands For Content Part One: Start out Strong Part Two: Get Down to It Part Three: Wrap it Up Part Four: Formatting Like a Pro In Conclusion... Author Checklist 3 5 7 9 13 15 18 20
  3. 3. 3 What The Site Stands For
  4. 4. 4 What The Site Stands For Our Approach • Adopt a peer-to-peer tone • Maintain a human perspective on every issue • Infuse every story with optimism Our Goals • Establish GE as a thought leader in clean technology • Communicate the real-world benefits of ecomagination products, services and cross-business solutions • Inspire a following of our content Our Audiences • Business leaders • Policy makers • Innovators • Engineers • Architects • Students • Thinkers Doers, making and inventing the things that drive us forward
  5. 5. 5 Content
  6. 6. 6 Content Our Content: Highlighting groundbreaking global innovation in energy efficiency and clean technology, with a positive outlook on the implications for business and the environment Analyze Analysis of the latest clean technology industry news and the effects of public policy on energy-efficient infrastructure Focus: business and politics Invent New developments and fresh approaches from entrepreneurs, startups, and major players Focus: innovation and technology Commit In-depth look at what adoption looks like around the world and new ways to shape consumer sentiment Focus: lifestyle and perspective Content lengths: 500—1000 words (please see your SOW)
  7. 7. 7 Part One: Start out Strong
  8. 8. 8 Part One: Start out Strong Title Strike a balance between fun wordplay and SEO optimization. Lead/Opener Say something interesting to draw them in and set the stage for the rest of the piece and keep their attention by getting right to the point. Begin positively Even if you have to start with a negative piece of information, present it in an optimistic light. Play up the human element Wrap the story around the people in it. Even if you’re covering something that seems dry and technical, find a way to personalize it.
  9. 9. 9 Part Two: Get Down to It
  10. 10. 10 Part Two: Get Down to It Call in the subs A lot of people skim articles on the web—how can we make it easier for them to find the most important content? Keep your SEO keywords in mind when you’re creating titles, but maintain a sense of fun. Take lots of breaks Paragraphs need to be short and sweet: five sentences, tops. When you’re done writing, go through and put in a lot of line breaks. Give people room to breathe while they’re reading. Go global or go home We’re talking about issues that affect everyone on the planet. Make sure to include a global perspective when it’s relevant—and it usually is. Present all sides of an argument Show the tension between differing points of view before you make your case.
  11. 11. 11 Part Two: Get Down to It Link in Include links to relevant content within ecomagination or other GE sites like Txchnologist. It’s always a good idea to get familiar with the content on our other sites so you’ll know the global topics we’re covering. Let people talk Pepper your story with lots of good quotes and great details—try to include at least 3 quotes that would be good to “pull” or highlight outside of body copy. Humanize it Show the people behind a new technology or how a new technology/policy is changing real lives. Use peer-to-peer “we” and “you” language whenever you can. Just keep in mind that “we” doesn’t mean “the people of GE,” nor should it ever be interpreted that way.
  12. 12. 12 Part Two: Get Down to It About lists Lists sometimes make information easier to digest, but not when your piece is full of them. Limit your lists to no more than 2, and keep the number items in each list below 5. Link out Be sure to include links to relevant content throughout your piece. Each piece should contain at least 5 links from 5 different topline sources (not just Wikipedia!). Please see Part Four of this document for proper link formatting instructions. Use keywords We’ll usually send you a list of keywords for SEO, or you can find them yourself using Google AdWords. Try to use them as much as you can, in section titles as well as body copy, but don’t let SEO make your language stiff or stilted. Keep the balance between real language and searchspeak.
  13. 13. 13 Part Three: Wrap it Up
  14. 14. 14 Part Three: Wrap it Up Make your case What’s the big takeaway? After you’ve explored all the angles, it’s time to add a little perspective. Don’t be afraid to make a big statement. End on a high note Find a way to end your story on a positive, human note that leaves people feeling optimistic, even if the story itself has negative information in it or highlights a problem. Point the way toward possible solutions, and try to make people feel good—there’s enough gloom-and- doom out there.
  15. 15. 15 Part Four: Formatting Like a Pro
  16. 16. 16 Part Four: Formatting Like a Pro Start with a summary Include a 25 – 35 word summary at the top of the document. This should be descriptive of your article, but also designed to grab the reader’s attention. Format your links Embed your hyperlinks into the text. To add hyperlinks in Word: • Select the text that you want to display as a hyperlink. • On the Insert tab in the Links group, click Hyperlink. • Copy and paste the website URL in the Link To form and then press OK. Highlight your headings Headings increase the readability of your article. When formatting, make sure they are bolded and in sentence case.
  17. 17. 17 Part Four: Formatting Like a Pro Pull out your quotes Highlight your pull quotes by placing them on a separate line in italics. Clearly label them with brackets: [pull quote]. Positioning these quotes is important; do not place them too closely to headings and keep them evenly spaced throughout the document. Check your sources Include reference information including interview notes, research, and contact information along with your article. We may ask for this information after you’ve filed your story.
  18. 18. 18 In Conclusion...
  19. 19. 19 In Conclusion... Summary Include a description (25-35 words) of the article All about you Please send us: • a description (3 sentences max) of yourself • a high-res image (to be circle cropped) • your Twitter handle Making good decisions and using your words “Green” is a tired word. It’s also hard to avoid, but try to find a better way to say it. “Innovative” is also worn out. What’s fresh and different about the thing you’re trying to describe? For other word choice and style questions, we follow the Chicago Manual of Style. Oh, and a tiny little editorial pet peeve: please put just one space after punctuation. Thanks!
  20. 20. 20 Author Checklist
  21. 21. 21 Author Checklist Please make sure your piece includes: At least 5 hyperlinks formatted in Microsoft Word using the hyperlink feature Subheadings throughout, clearly identifying sections A 25-35 word summary at the beginning Plenty of line breaks High-res photos if you’re featuring a product or company Please make sure you’ve submitted: All signed contracts, forms, and SOWs A bio, Twitter username, and high-res photo An invoice for the piece Your reference information including interview notes, research, and contact list
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