What We Write About
We live in a very consumer oriented, pop culture, society. We want to cover that here.
Our primary goal is to provide the latest news, analysis, tips and advice to consumers who are in the process of deciding how they are going to spend their money and time.
We also provide updates, reviews, and the latest information about products that have fan bases (tech, games, tv shows, etc).
All our stories here on CP should be unique, informative and relevant to shoppers and consumers.
Story Topics and Tone:
If you look through our current categories you will get a good idea of appropriate topics to write about.
The important thing here is that we don’t want to be promotional – we are not here to sell products or help companies out. We are here to help consumers.
It’s ok to be a fan of something, and that can come through in your writing. In fact, it’s great if you are well versed and excited about your topic.
But you don’t want to write as if you are trying to sell something. You want to get real with it and provide good information.
We need to be savvy with our writing, and help our readers be knowledgeable and savvy as well.
You can provide your expert analysis. You can quote a company or press rep. You can interview and reference experts and actual shoppers. But it’s important that you don’t just parrot the company line as if it was coming from you as the expert.
Types of stories
Our stories fall into three major types – news, reviews, and general.
News – these are the stories that are uploaded to the Google News and Bing News index – so they have to follow certain guidelines. They need to be about a current event, newsworthy, informative, with no tips/advice or how-to. Most current events are newsworthy in some form or fashion. An example of something that – isn’t – would be a store that has a sale but has that sale every week. Same ol’ same ol’…… unless you had some new information about the sale or a new angle/ interview/circumstance related to it.
Reviews – these are considered ‘news’ and are about your personal experience with a product. They are generally done in the first person. These are opinion pieces by nature. You detail your experiences and thoughts about a product. They can be included in the news category, so we want to avoid tips/advice/how-to. The best way to avoid tips/advice/how-to is by not telling your readers what to do. For example, use: “the red one worked better for opening…” instead of saying “you should get the red one for opening…”
General – these are the tips/advice/how-to articles. These do not get uploaded into Google News and Bing News, but they do go into the regular Google, Bing, and other search engines and can do quite well. Since these articles are not necessarily based on current events, they tend to have a longer shelf life than news stories.
Our style is casual, conversational, entertaining – but professional.
Stories should be easy to read, broken up into fairly short paragraphs, and have excellent grammar.
Many of our stories will be light hearted and ‘good news’ – a new deal, cool new product, or a recap on an exciting tv show.
But serious analysis and in-depth stories are a part of our site as well. Consumer rip offs, bad deals, recalls, a company making bad decisions affecting shoppers, safety issues – can and should be covered.
It’s important to write with the story up front. The writer is behind the scenes.
Whereas a blog might be about the writer, our writing on CP is about the story.
Its ok to mention yourself… “I…” occasionally, as when referencing your reaction to something or your personal analysis. But the article should be primarily focused on the story, not the writer.
Referencing & Linking
Original writing and honest attribution are longstanding journalistic values.
You can and should reference and quote (when appropriate) other sites/authors, with a link to their site, when using information that they have exclusives on. Write your own story, but reference as needed.
We also want to say where facts and information are coming from whenever possible. Example: “According to the network……”, “In a statement, the CPSC said……”
You may also attribute information to an anonymous source, Example: “A source who works with the company but requested we not publish their name, said….”
If the information is something you requested from a company’s media/PR person, ask them if you can quote them by name or if they would prefer the information be attributed in a different manner. If it is not an official statement, they most often prefer to be attributed just by the company name, Example “Best Buy told CP that….”
Remember, in – news – stories we can not provide tips/advice/how-to directly. However, you can quote tips and advice from an expert source: Example: “The BBB is advising shoppers to avoid dealing with XYZ company,” or “Jones said to buy peanut butter now before the price triples.” This way we are reporting what was said, not providing advice ourselves.
Length Of Stories
Stories will need to be at least 120 words long. They need to be at least 150 words long to include the full complement of ads. Most should be less than 500 words, though up to 800 words is acceptable.
If you request information from a company’s media/PR person on something that is upcoming – you can let them know that we respect embargo requests.
With an embargo, the company asks you not to release the information until a certain date. This gives you time to put a good article together, as questions, get the fact, without being rushed by breaking news.
Do make sure you understand the terms/dates of the embargo – and at the top of your story, write “———embargoed———” with the details. This will make sure the embargo is seen by your editor and the story will not be published until the terms of the embargo are met.
Be sure to join us in the forum for ongoing tips and trainings!
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