Our Provincial website provides information about Freemasonry to anybody who visits it. Freemasons, potential candidates and the general public, so we have a great opportunity to engage with those audiences.
In order to keep the website fresh we need new content on a regular basis. Some of the content will be provided by the Provincial Team while the remainder will come from Lodges or individuals. Wherever the content is derived it must be provided in a suitable format if we are to be able to use it to best advantage.
We often get emails with some very basic details and sometimes that will include a photograph. The problem is that more often than not we do not get enough detail to make an article out of what we have been sent.
To help us promote the news around the Province we would ask that you try and use the following guidelines when submitting content for either the website or our official Social Media channels. This will enable us to publish items in a more timely manner and save us a lot of time reseaching the missing information.
If you have further ideas or comments about these guidelines we will be happy to consider them.
The first rule to creating a successful article is to ensure that it has the main components - who, what, where, when and why.
- Who is involved in the article? Who is the author? We need names along with title (e.g. Bro, W. Bro, etc.) and any Provincial Rank please.
- What is the article about? This needs to be at least two or three paragraphs as anything shorter will look out of place next to a photograph.
- Where did the event take place? Please include the location of the event as well as the associated Lodge name and number.
- When did or will the event take place? Without a date or time attributed it makes some articles ineffective, especially if the article is advertising a future event for your Lodge.
- Why is this news and is there anything expected of the reader? Some articles are simply informative while others may require readers to take some action such as booking tickets etc.
Those 5 points are the bare minimum we need to create a reasonable article.
The second rule is to make the article interesting. This means adding images to appeal to those people who prefer to "see" instead of just "read" an article.
Ideally there would be at least one photograph to accompany the text. When sending photographs please send the original image/s so we can edit accordingly. We often receive images that are too small and therefore cannot be used without losing quality of the image. Please ensure that all photos are accompanied by a list of names relative to their position in the photo.
Please note that you must have consent from every person in a photograph BEFORE you submit it for publication by the Provincial Communications Team.
The third rule is about the article composition.
This is a very important consideration because if you are submitting a newsworthy article for publication across the province then surely you would also consider if it was worthy of submission to your local press. Articles written for printed media such as newspapers and magazines follow a specific format for editorial purposes.
If you consider that a newspaper or magazine article is written by a reporter and there are usually many articles to a publication then they have to be laid out to suit the available space. Layout is usually in columns, which are/were measured in inches. The editor would often have to tell a reporter to lose some content e.g. "cut 3 inches off your article". This often meant rewriting the entire article. Reporters soon realised that the most effective way to write an article was to ensure it was structured in the following manner:
- Headline - Make it stand out and encourage the reader to take notice
- Introduction - a single paragraph or sentence that tells the story in a nutshell
- Body - each subsequent paragraph expands the story detail further still
- Closing - summary of the story and any outcomes or call to action
Using this structure a reporter could easily 'lose' 3 inches by removing the last paragraphs from the body section as this would still leave the whole story intact.
The same still applies today. If you were to send an article to the local press they would probably have to work on it before they could publish it. For long articles this can be onerous so it is easier for the editor to reject the article and publish something else.
The above format also works for the website. In the News areas we have a title (Headline) followed by teaser text (Introduction) with a "Read More" button leading to the full article.
Using this method you simply write the article once and it can be used across most published media outlets.
If you have any further questions or suggestions then please feel free to contact the communications team.
W. Bro David Goode