We’ ve previously touched upon the significance of creating incredible content briefs to help writers and strategists stay aligned with considerations like content goals, goals, and SEO requirements.
But meeting SEO requirements and hitting the target word count is just one aspect of your content’ h appeal. The tone you embody and the message you convey to your audience is critical. Your content has to both rank well and inculcate rely on — if the quality of the content is sub-par, your own prospects will transfer that perception over to your items, too.
That’ s where editorial suggestions become critical to running your content program.
What are editorial guidelines?
Editorial guidelines, also known as an editorial style information, are a set of rules that writers or contributors to your blog should follow when publishing content. These recommendations typically include requirements associated with your brand voice plus tone, grammar & style, image contributions, the type of content you want to publish, your audience, and how your editorial process works.
The goal of editorial guidelines is to make sure consistency across all messaging. For example , if you use American English in some pieces of content plus British English in others, that’ s inconsistent and might negatively impact your brand impression. Another example is what types of imagery and visuals may be used and the requirements associated with sourcing those images.
The goal of editorial suggestions is to ensure that all content material is consistent and high-quality and to provide a handy reference point point for whoever can be writing or editing the content.
When creating editorial guidelines, try to go as strong as possible. Include examples of messages you like, and those you don' t. Show differences among American vs British punctuational. The more detailed your recommendations, the quicker it is for the writer to get up to speed.
How do content guidelines differ from tone & voice and brand suggestions?
The two tend to be used interchangeably, but it’ s important to make a variation between them.
Tone & voice suggestions describe how your brand speaks in all forms of communication. They’ re a reflection of your brand name identity and are cover almost all aspects of how a brand talks beyond just editorial content material, covering environments like UI/UX copy, advertising, internal delivering presentations, product packaging, and website duplicate.
Brand name guidelines describe how you wish your brand to be perceived visually and emotionally. If your brand was obviously a person, how would they be perceived? Are they loud, confident, and bold or helpful, inquisitive, and reliable? How should the logo be used? What fonts & colours and design requirements can be found? Tone & voice guidelines typically are included inside of larger brand guidelines documents, because nailing brand messages is one component of how your brand is perceived.
Editorial suggestions, on the other hand, can cover any kind of requirements related to fulfilling your own editorial mission statement. As we explain within a previous post, an editorial mission statement is how you unite everyone in your content material team toward a single objective. It embodies your brand name, delivers a deep knowledge of your content program’ s objective, what value your content will certainly deliver to your target audience, the particular style of content you’ lmost all be creating, and precisely why its creation is important in the first place.
While editorial guidelines will also cover elements related to visual guidelines and written tone & voice, they’ re primarily focused on conveying how your content will get created, and what it appears like when it’ s full.
How to create editorial guidelines for your brand
Let’ s i9000 take a look at a few ways you can start to create editorial guidelines for the brand.
Realize your audience
The cornerstone of any great marketing is a deep, visceral understanding of who you’ re marketing to. Speaking with your audience in a tone of voice that they understand will help convert them into loyal fans. On the flip side, if you’ lso are going to be banal, insipid, and boring, you’ re going to lose their curiosity fairly quickly.
The majority of businesses make the mistake of implementing generic advertising tones when making public-facing content. It’ s written in a way that’ t supposed to appeal to everyone , but by doing this they fail to make any sort of impression. They’ ve lost the attention of their audience given that they haven’ t appealed to the specific segment.
At Content A harmonious relationship, we understand that the majority of the audience is smart & innovative digital marketers. Our content can only resonate with our audience if it’ s smart, informative, and actionable. We want our audience to be a a part of our tribe, and we’ ll try our best to remain positive without being snarky or negative.
When making content, it’ s important for us to look beyond the particular fluff. We hold ourselves accountable to high specifications, because our audience desires us to. We’ lso are bold and opinionated about content & SEO guidelines, because we’ ve experienced the trenches before and understand the problems that our customers face.
Thinking about your audience and its particular needs and aspirations can assist you craft your own editorial guidelines.
The editorial guidelines of Seeking Alpha , a popular finance publication, quickly shows its understanding of the viewers it serves when explaining what it looks for in a content submission:
Figure out the aim of your content
Right now you have understood who you’ re writing for and the tone that’ s likely to resonate with them the most. The next step is for you to understand the kind of topics that will engage your market the most. What are they thinking about reading about and how may your blog help them gain levels in their professional lives?
As mentioned above, nearly all our audience at Content material Harmony is smart, creative marketers. We don’ t want to bore them with content regarding why investing in digital marketing or SEO is important for their business — they’ re already sold on that. We all do want to educate all of them on things like:
- Correctly analyzing and catering to search intent
- Frameworks for articles optimization
- The way to plan and structure content marketing teams
- The importance of content briefs & how to create them
- Related topics that help them do their own jobs better
If your publication actively seeks out guest posts or works with freelance contributors, then listing your core topics and themes as a publicly-available document is a recommended method to get relevant distribution.
B2B advertising community Marketing Profs has a section dedicated to explaining what topics its audience will be interested in and how all submissions must fit within these categories, otherwise, it is not likely to be selected.
If your publication will get a large amount of submissions , then it’ s also recommended which you do a deeper dive straight into what will make your content stand out from the rest. That’ s in which the ‘ Topics we Cover’ section fits in — when you’ re able to explain clearly what your expectations / goals are, the better your chances of quality submissions. What’ s more, this also enables you to reject submissions that aren’ t a good fit.
Content Harmony’ ersus Editorial Guidelines cover these types of topics in a section entitled “ Subject Matter”:
Explain your preferred content types
In your editorial guidelines document, we recommend that you clearly outline what types of content you’ re willing to accept. In our research, many publications make it clear that they’ re only interested in authentic pieces of content that haven’ t been published somewhere else. Things like press releases or item updates are rarely accepted given that they don’ t serve the particular publication’ s audience or even core interests.
We’ ve published Content Harmony’ s i9000 internal editorial guidelines record to demonstrate what types of posts are likely to be approved for publication.
Within this section, we explicitly explain what types of content we want to release:
Your preferred content formats ought to tie back to your editorial mission statement. Content Harmony’ s priority is to produce content that leaves an idea on our audience — we would like our readers to leave with the feeling that they learned something new, felt inspired by the content, and were able to apply the insights in their respective careers or side tasks.
Training / How-To posts, Manuals, Curated Posts, and Teardowns are all par for the course as long as they showcase a good expert-level understanding of the topic available.
We’ re very keen on releasing layouts and frameworks that our audience can apply for their own content material efforts. Some templates that will we’ ve made publicly available are:
- Content Marketing Strategy template ( Google Docs template link )
- Content Marketing and advertising Proposal template ( Google Documents template link )
- Content material Brief template ( Google Docs template link )
- Content Calendar template ( Google Docs template link )
- Content Optimization framework
We’ ll continue to add more templates and frameworks in the future given that that’ s our method of demonstrating expertise and giving back to the community we provide.
We encourage you to think about your preferred content formats in the same style — what types of content help further your editorial mission statement and how do these people help your audience?
When thinking about your preferred content formats, try to put yourself in your audience' s shoes. Do they prefer wise, educational content or easily-digestible, humorous content? What platforms work best when delivering those to them?
Explain what you don’ t cover
Your editorial guidelines document should also mention things that a person don’ t want to be incorporated or mentioned in your syndication. For example , you may want to avoid mentioning any overtly political subjects or for your brand to take a hard stance on such things as gun control laws. Your brand may also want to remain classy and avoid lampooning the competition or mentioning them whatsoever.
An explanation of what you don’ t cover can also wade into subjects that you’ re not interested in. For example , if you run a home & gardening business, then submissions that cover topics like how to veterinarian auto mechanics are probably not a great fit.
To recap, an explanation associated with what you don’ t protect can include:
- Competitors — guidelines on not really mentioning them at all in informational / educational content, and only including them when absolutely necessary, such as in comparison web pages.
- Delicate Topics — this makes the most feeling if you’ re not really trying to align yourself having a social cause. Unless your own brand actively courts just one end of the political range, it’ s probably better that you don’ t have a hardline stance on politics or social issues.
- Irrelevant / Off-Brand Topics — we’ ve discussed earlier how the success of your content material marketing program is a direct representation of how well you understand your own audience. Accept posts that fall within the realm of what your audience prefers to consume, anything else is unneeded.
Explain your style guide
We’ ve discussed earlier how consistency is important. Your editorial guidelines should also incorporate a style guide, which assists guide writers on whether to use things like em dashes vs semi-colons, spelling variations, and more.
Specifically, your style guide can cover the following elements:
If you prefer that will writers use the Oxford comma and maintain an active voice, after that cover that in your design guide. This section can also include what variations of popular terms you prefer, such as eCommerce vs e-commerce, eBook compared to e-book, or whitepaper vs White Paper.
The most common differences in spelling are between American British and British English, therefore be sure to explain which style you prefer.
Use of images and links
A few publications ask that their own writer does not include any stock images and that any screenshots be annotated with arrows and explainer text. Make your expectations crystal clear so that writers aren’ t confused.
Your style guide can also shed some light on external linking best practices. For instance , you might want to specify to your authors that they should only link to primary research sources. You could also let them know a list of your competitors so they avoid linking to them.
If you allow visitor post submissions, they usually include a link exchange of some sort — your style guide may outline what is allowed through an external link capacity. A few blogs are okay along with linking out to product or sales pages, while others may only allow links inside the author’ s bio with out further approval.
As the publisher or content manager, you can even include some helpful tips about how exactly you would like your content to be organized. Some publications, like the Harvard Business Review, embody an extremely academic and text-heavy firmness. If that’ s the particular style you prefer, then make sure to include it in your records.
At Content material Harmony, our formatting recommendations encourage liberal use of emojis, bulleted lists wherever possible, and paragraphs that are never over four or five lines long. Simply by including formatting requirements within your editorial guidelines, you’ re going to end up saving period during the editing and modification process.
We all also share a list of web elements like callout boxes, bullets, and buttons to be able to easier to convey formatting choices inside of our CMS.
Show types of copy that you like
Provide your writers with handy reference points that they can use when creating content. If you can link to examples that will stood out for you and describe why you liked them, it’ ll help your authors immensely. You can also highlight types of bad content, and describe where it fell brief so that your writers are aware of what pitfalls to avoid.
Content Harmony’ s Tone & Tone of voice guidelines include a section showing a good example of place culture references:
Explain your editorial process
An explanation of your content process helps both internal and external contributors stay aligned upon content expectations and what happens after you click submit. Regarding internal contributors, such as writers on your content marketing group or non-marketing staff such as product managers, this document serves as a handy research point when they’ re creating content.
External contributors like freelance writers or guest post distribution can also benefit from clearly-defined targets stated upfront. This helps solution questions like:
- What is the recommended word count?
- Exactly who retains the copyright for the submitted article?
- How long does it take to discover if the article has been recognized?
- What is the established editorial cadence?
- Can I post the article on personal sites after syndication?
- What sort of hyperlinks can be included in the article?
- What format can be preferred — Google Documents, Microsoft Word, PDFs?
- What visual elements should be included?
Explain your contributor objectives
Publishing your articles is only the first step, so it’ s worthwhile spending a little time explaining what expectations you may have from your contributors once the blog post goes live.
Questions you can answer listed below are:
- How can you promote the post — is it distributed to your email list and added upon social networks? How soon after publication does that happen?
- Are contributors anticipated to reply to comments?
- Can contributors post the article on their own personal websites plus social media feeds?
- Who handles content up-dates — is the contributor accountable for any updates or can the in-house editorial group manage that?
In this section, you can also explain whether first-time contributing factors are expected to submit a brief bio and headshot at the time of submission.
Make these guidelines public or easily shareable
The last step is to ensure these guidelines are either published in a public place, or create a shareable hyperlink from a Google Doc or even Notion doc so you can effortlessly share them with potential contributors or team members.
If these are easily shareable or published, it will also become easier to find them when you want for making updates or revisions as they evolve over time. Your Editorial Guidelines should be a living record, and should likely be updated as frequently as you’ re getting on new writers and team members. Each time you onboard a new contributor is a chance to see what editorial guidelines slipped through the cracks and ensure you’ ve documented all of them well.
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