Writing Guidelines

Writing Guidelines

The CityMinded.org Blog

The CityMinded.org blog is a place to continue the discussion and momentum of Meeting of the Minds events with an expanded and knowledgeable online audience. Hundreds of visitors read our blog each day, often engaging in the discussion through comments.

Guest bloggers are selected much like our event speakers are selected – we look for innovative leaders that are working on urban projects that spotlight the main themes of Meeting of the Minds: sustainability, connectivity, smart cities, innovation, technology, energy, mobility, and the important interplay between all of them.

Writing guidelines for the CityMinded.org blog

  1. We request that articles be greater than 800 words, but less than 2,000.
  2. No advertising copy or press-releases.
  3. Blog posts should be exclusive to CityMinded.org and not previously published online.
  4. Blog posts should be written in a non-academic, conversational tone.
  5. Include, whenever possible, bullet-point lists, short paragraphs, and the judicious use of bold and italics.
  6. Images, videos and hyperlinks are encouraged.

Please also include a short, 2-3 sentence biography and a profile photo with your blog post. Your photo and bio will be included at the end of your blog post.

Additional tips

The Meeting of the Minds audience is a smart bunch. They are CXOs, think-tankers, activists, public servants, philanthropists, and more. They are looking for big ideas in the world and hoping to connect with great minds, but their time is limited. In order to get their attention the content you write has to be readable, valuable, and compelling.

What’s the best way to grab the attention of our audience? Here are some general tips.

    • Write a good headline. – This is something our editing team will help you with, but you should think about it, too. We share our content through social media, newsletters, RSS feeds, and any other way we can. Most of the people that we’re able to reach in this way only see the headline, then click to read more. That means we need to come up with a very compelling headline.

      Again, this is something we will help you with, but you should starting thinking about it early on in the process.

      Note: please keep headlines to 60 characters or less.

 

    • Give away secrets. Not proprietary information, of course, but you have to give the audience something of value. They are giving you their time, and they hope to be rewarded with information they haven’t heard before and can’t get anywhere else. So tell them a secret. Give them an insight that only you know. Break a paradigm. Challenge their thinking.

 

    • Tell us about what you’ve done, not what you’re planning to do. Let’s say you’re starting a new project that has 3 phases – 1. research, 2. development, 3. implementation. The best time to write a guest blog for us is during or after phase 3. Why? Because our audience wants to see results. They want to know what went right, what went wrong, and how they can scale up the project in their city as well.

 

  • Write for screens, not for paper. – Studies have shown that people’s reading habits are different when they read from a screen than when they read from a piece of paper. We can expect that no one will print out your blog post to read it, so we can expect that your audience will see your content on a screen. You should, then, tailor your writing to what works best on a screen.

    There was a great article in Slate magazine years ago that explains this in more detail, but here is the gist of it:

    • Write smaller paragraphs – on a screen, even 1 sentence can be a paragraph. Eye-tracking tests show that most people skip over large blocks of text when reading on screens.
    • Use bullet-point lists – we’re doing it right now. Doesn’t this make it easier to read?
    • Use bold, links and italics to emphasize content – of course you don’t want people to skim your guest blog…but they inevitably will. Help them find the important parts by emphasizing them with formatting and links.
    • Break your article up with explanatory subheaders – Sectionalize your article with subheaders that explain what each section is about.
    • Write less – as we said above, you should keep your articles over 600 words, but under 2,000. Studies show that readers start to get restless after 1,000 words or so.

That will get your started. Remember that you’re not on your own with this, our editing team will help you shape your guest blog to fit our audience and our guidelines. We’ll work together to make sure your voice is heard in the Meeting of the Minds community.

Interested? Contact us.

Meeting of the Minds is made possible by the generous support of these organizations:
Toyota
Cisco
The Kresge Foundation
IBM
Qualcomm
Living Cities
EY's Global Cleantech Center
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Barr Foundation
Ford Foundation
Itron
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Lincoln Institute of Land Policy