ILRI blogging procedures
All staff are responsible for writing blogs to raise awareness among ILRI audiences of the research undertaken by the institute and related outcomes of this work. These stories are posted on ILRI websites and social media channels are pushed out to users who sign up to receive this content. ILRI blog articles are widely disseminated via our several social media channels, including ILRI Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Readers who find links to articles on regional, program and project blogs do not distinguish between these blogs and corporate materials. While the quality of blog articles will vary, an international standard of science reporting—with excellent English, clear messages, evidenced-based facts, unambiguous details and a coherent storyline—on all of ILRI's articles is absolutely necessary to protect the reputation of the institute.
Responsibilities and approvals
- Blogs should be approved by program leaders (or delegates) before being submitted to CKM for a final check.
- Any sensitive material which could potentially damage the reputation of ILRI or cause offence to its partners should be sent to the relevant deputy director general for research for approval.
- Responsibility for the scientific quality of blog articles lies with the respective ILRI program leaders and their directors of research—not with the communications staff posting the blog or CKM.
We use blogs hosted on WordPress to publish stories about ILRI and the work being done across ILRI (and beyond). Our blogs should contain:
- original stories
- interviews or profiles of people or projects
- updates on projects, people, products, events
- opinion pieces by ILRI-associated people
General blogging guidelines
- Follow ILRI's style guide.
- Read the posts on ILRI's two main corporate blogs—News and Clippings—to get a sense of ILRI's blog style.
- Write simply and clearly to interest, engage and be understood by non-ILRI, non-scientific and non-livestock oriented audiences, many of whom have another first language.
- Use words and language most 14-year-olds would understand.
- Use active (not passive) verbs: 'The dog bit the man' (not 'the man was bitten by the dog').
- Avoid jargon and specialist vocabulary ('participatory research').
- Avoid cliches ('a picture is worth a thousand words') unless you use them knowingly (with wit, etc.).
- Avoid acronyms; if absolutely necessary to use an acronym, always spell it out in full on first use.
- Always spell out 'ILRI' in full on first use.
- Tell a story wherever possible.
- Or: find an interesting angle/approach: look back at an old issue from a new lens, debate between perspectives, interview someone knowledgeable, interview someone with a candid view, write in a cross-cutting/lateral way (using curated content), make predictions for the future, seek stories about peoples' epiphanies, make a commentary on an otherwise rather 'dry' publication or output...
- If making a statement that is your opinion but not evidence-based, make that clear.
- Provide depth and background—most blog articles will be at least 400-500 words long.
- Double check all the facts in the story. Accuracy is of the utmost importance to the reputation of ILRI.
- Make sure the story line and the messages you wish to highlight come through.
- Carefully proofread your article before submitting it for approval to ensure it has no spelling or grammatical errors, no typos or missing words, and is complete.
- Once your blog post has been published, promote it on relevant personal and institutional social media and conversation spaces. All ILRI blog posts are automatically disseminated across ILRI social media channels and on the ILRI website.
- Liven up your article with quotes from staff and partners and others; format the quotes as 'display quotes' to break up the text.
- Write regularly so that your readers have something new to read at least weekly.
Pay particular attention to your headline (think about what will be short and interesting enough for Twitter), try and provide context in the title (e.g. 'AfricaRISING West Africa review and planning meeting creates surprise about partnership agreements' not 'Bamako meeting creates surprise'), picture caption, introductory sentence and paragraph and closing paragraph. Remember, your headlines 'have a life of their own' on the internet. They often/usually appear out of context. Most users will come across them NOT on your blog or website.
In Wordpress, create an 'excerpt' for each story; this is normally the first paragraph introducing the blog post. The Wordpress excerpt is taken into the feed and online posts and avoids, for instance, the photo caption becoming the text that is posted automatically.
Categories and tags
ILRI is a front-runner in tagging and categorizing its published work so that that work can be easily found, re-purposed and re-published. This demands discipline by ILRI bloggers in ensuring that each article posted is appropriately tagged. For each blog article, tick all relevant categories and insert key words as tags (refer to tagging guidelines). The choice of categories is very important as this forms the basis for aggregation on ILRI website and elsewhere.
Photos and videos
- Enhance your article with an interesting (and sharp) image; search among ILRI's Flickr 'galleries' (and give credit to other photographers) as well as 'sets'.
- Don't use the same photo again and again on the same blog.
- Make a blog post for each audio/video interview made.
- Do not upload a file or ILRI images into a blog. Documents should be on CGSpace or the internet; ILRI images on Flickr; videos on YouTube.
Your blog post should never be a 'dead end.' It should send visitors to other interesting/related resources and links. Always set the link to 'open in a new page'.