Editorial Policy: What Is It and Where Should It Live on My Blog?
In a world where disinformation, misinformation, and simply mediocre information abound, it’s essential to establish credibility for a blog to succeed at gaining a loyal following and brand authority. An editorial policy can help shape a blog into the trusted source of information that your readers are hungry for.
With the pressure to drive consumer action, an editorial policy will provide you and your team of writers, editors, and guest contributors with:
- A solid framework for delivering consistent and relevant blog posts
- A clear summary of roles and responsibilities
- A set of principles by which the brand can build trust in the information published
The conformity and tone of your brand’s content can represent the quality of your brand as much as your logo. It’s vital that every member of the team understands the policy and its importance to the content creation process. Adherence to your editorial policy will save time and ensure all content consistently communicates with one single brand voice.
What is an Editorial Policy?
An editorial policy contains a set of guidelines by which your blog operates. It communicates the blog’s point of view, content creation processes, and the ethics it will stand by. Your policy defines your brand’s approach to thought leadership and standards for published content.
As your content audience grows, the rules established in your editorial policy will help you develop and maintain brand authority by upholding your reputation as a trustworthy and authoritative source.
For readers, an editorial policy provides a framework for understanding the blog’s mission, vision, and values. If it’s well-defined and aligned with readers’ values and expectations, it can help move them to become subscribers.
For writers and editors, an editorial policy maintains the integrity of the publication from both an informational and branding standpoint. Blog posts or articles that adhere to it become part of a carefully curated compilation of content that shares the brand’s unique point of view, expertise, and voice.
Editorial Policy vs. Editorial Style Guide
Many content creators mix up an editorial policy with an editorial style guide. While both are constructive documents for building and growing strong blogs, they are quite different.
An editorial policy addresses the principles and purpose of your published work and methodologies regarding topic ideation and research. An editorial style guide is more about presentation, detailing the publication’s look, style, and tone.
Benefits of an Editorial Policy
A strong editorial policy is essential for the following reasons:
- It builds reader trust.
- It keeps content cohesive by defining the boundaries of what is covered and what is not covered. This is especially important when a blog has multiple writers and editors.
- Customers will transfer their perceptions of your blog content’s quality to your products or services.
- Google will crawl it for E-E-A-T.
E-E-A-T stands for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trust. One of the things that builds trust is the easy ability to verify the accuracy of the information on a site, which is exactly what an editorial policy can demonstrate to Google. Google will reward you with higher search placements for holding your content to the high standards of a published policy.
How Do You Write an Editorial Policy?
When you consistently publish high-quality, relevant content, your target audience will take note. The quality of your editorial policy will help guide you and your staff to that end.
Your editorial content policy should cover any requirements related to fulfilling your editorial mission. Additionally, it should draw from your brand’s mission, vision and values. As you’re building your policy, review those ideals and be sure to keep them top of mind.
Keep in mind that this policy should be a living document that evolves over time, just like your industry, best practices, and content strategy.
Editorial Policy Examples
If you look at how other blogs have approached their editorial policies, the first thing you’ll probably notice is how much they vary.
- Process Work Institute, a nonprofit educational institute, has a policy for those who would like to contribute to its blog to help writers better target their audience. It focuses on objectives and processes, as well as style guidelines.
- The Cleveland Clinic is one of the world’s preeminent medical centers. Their blog, Health Essentials, contains a significant amount of reader-friendly health information and advice. Trust is a must for this blog. Their editorial content policy is written to its audience and addresses both its editorial process and commitment to its readers.
- The BBC has editorial guidelines and a policy that is quite long and in-depth. It goes above and beyond what most publications require, but it is worth reading as it will inform you of the breadth of topics that can be covered, such as accountability, impartiality, and conflicts of interest.
- The Spruce, a popular home and garden blog, wants readers to know how seriously it takes the accuracy and integrity of the work it publishes. Its editorial standards doc begins with an editorial promise, with all subsequent sections supporting that promise.
Components to Consider Including
The needs of an organization, the type of content, and brand goals will inform what you should include in an editorial policy. Here are a few key components worth considering.
- Outline blog and brand objectives. As seen in the above examples, your editorial policy can be written with writers and editors as the subjects, as the BBC does, or addressed directly to your audience, as The Spruce does. You should note that the tone of the BBC’s policy communicates to readers how seriously it takes its editorial responsibilities.
- Define your audience. You and your regular writing team already know who your company sells to. Including target personas in an editorial policy reinforces them for your current team and informs new and future writers.
- Establish writing guidelines. This can include what subjects you cover, post lengths, image and video requirements, and any other rules you may want to impose, such as linking, sourcing, calls to action, use of AI, and more.
- Strive for accuracy and accountability. Your policy should outline your commitment to accuracy and how you handle making corrections. Additionally, it’s important to consider whether your content is evergreen and how you might edit and refurbish content over time.
- Offer impartiality and transparency. These are two areas that greatly affect trust. They are essential if you are writing about news or reviewing products. If your blog has advertisers, you’ll want both your writers and audience to understand how the blog content exists independently from your advertisers. To ensure transparency, disclose any potential conflicts of interest to your audience.
- Outline submission requirements. If you accept submissions from writers outside of your organization, this section will help them understand how to format their writing, the submission method, and any deadlines. As an example, some blogs want guest writers to pitch their topic with a short excerpt before writing an entire piece.
Where Should an Editorial Policy Live?
The three most common places to locate your editorial policy are in the footer, in the ‘About’ section, or as a direct link on the home page of the blog.
The most important issue to take into consideration is for the policy to be easy for readers and contributors to access. This will not only reassure readers of your transparency but also save administrators from receiving inappropriate inquiries and submissions because the editorial policy was not easily found.
Give Your Blog a Competitive Edge
Writing an editorial policy is an important piece of content governance. When the goal is to attract followers and increase leads to your website, your team needs this framework to deliver content that is relevant and authoritative. Additionally, this document provides clarity to your team and ensures the consistency required for effective brand management.
If you use a blog to convert visitors into paying customers, ContentWriters can help. We specialize in writing content by vetted subject matter experts that helps brands drive traffic and conversions. Get in touch today!
Deborah was the kid who would rather write book reports and essays than play ball during recess. Although she didn’t score many points with her peers, it did lead to her career creating content for TV, radio, print and new media for companies as varied as Dooney& Bourke, Panera Breads, Visa, SUNY Ulster and Hudson Valley Federal Savings Bank.
She is also a principal of small packages – a digital design company, and past partner/marketing director of whatis.com, the world’s foremost reference on information technology. And, her love of food enabled her to become a contributing editor of both Gourmet Retailer and Food Distribution Magazines.
Deborah has a bachelor degree in fine art from the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford and a masters in higher education administration from Stony Brook University. When she’s not writing, her love of quilting, furry animals, friends, and family sustains her.