You might have heard the phrase “green buildings are about people.” And it’s true—who better to illustrate USGBC’s mission, to transform the way buildings are designed, built and operated, than those who are working to do this every day?
Contributing writers come from many areas of the green building industry—from design and construction to urban planning and building maintenance. Our contributors are experts in their fields. Whether they represent major brands, local governments or grassroots organizations, they offer their own unique perspectives on the challenges and opportunities in green building.
In most cases, a member of our communications and marketing team will work with writers throughout the development process, from brainstorming through publication. Once an idea is pitched, we can begin drafting. We listen to a writer’s messages and goals for sharing their stories. Our job is to make sure that the article, while remaining authentic to the writer’s voice and expertise, meets our needs as a content provider for a wide audience.
This is where setting expectations can play a vital role in shaping and delivering optimal content. Doing this up front ensures that we provide timely and relevant information for our customers. Having in-house guidelines for tone, style, length and format also makes sure that our messaging is consistent across the dozens of platforms we manage.
Here are a few of our high-level guidelines:
Keep content relevant.
The majority of usgbc.org readers are green building and LEED professionals. For your company, keep in mind whom you’re writing for, and consider what will be most useful to your target audience. Focus on the “how” and “why” of any content piece—going deeper into any challenges, solutions and benefits. Pro tip: Readers should be able to come away with an understanding of how to apply the information presented.
Keep it short.
We publish articles of about 300–500 words on our sites, and never more than 700 words. Having a word limit not only keeps content regular across channels, but challenging yourself to say what you mean in fewer words is an excellent exercise in honing your ability to communicate clearly and concisely. Pro tip: Get to the point early on. Express the main issue, opinion or purpose of the piece in the first or second paragraph.
Watch the tone.
Articles are an extension of your personal platform as a subject-matter expert, and reflect your ability to connect with audiences in a meaningful way. To that end, the tone of your article should be conversational and professional. Pro tip: Use clear, illustrative language that conveys the impact, benefit and implications of what you are writing about and avoids personal commentary.
Make it actionable.
Every article should include a clear takeaway, lesson learned or call to action. In addition to having information significant to the user within the body of the text, at USGBC, we include a button at the end of each article that links to further details on the topic, a sign-up form or an event registration page. Pro tip: Always include a way for the customer to take some type of action to further their journey.
For more tips, read our one-pager for contributing writers.