Blog Submission: So you want to write for The Peterloo Institute…
Writing for a think tank might seem like an intimidating idea. After all, many think tanks have close links to politicians and political parties, often providing them with policy ideas for their electoral platforms. They can be strongly partisan, scarily competitive, and sometimes seem like they operate in a different world.
But the Peterloo Institute is one of a number of think tanks who do things a little differently. We’re run by student volunteers and we value all kinds of experiences and opinions. That’s why we’re always on the look out for submissions from all kinds of people, whether you have any formal political experience or not. We’re all affected by the decisions taken around us and we all have opinions on how things should be.
So we wanted to provide some advice for anyone who has an interest in submitting work to us. This is the first in a series of pieces explaining different ways you can submit and it focuses on the most common type of publication at Peterloo - the humble blog post.
Read on to find out how you can polish your idea so it can be published and provide a unique perspective to people and policymakers across Greater Manchester.
Step 1: Picking an idea
It can be hard to know where to start sometimes with politics and policy. We all see the news every day, but the pace of the media can make it hard to make sense of much of what goes on.
Blog posts can cut through that noise. They allow you to get under the skin of a contemporary event or issue and help people understand the context through an informed commentary. You should use the word count (our blogs are between 250 -1000 words) to explore the problem, but more importantly, to provide your proposed solution.
You might immediately have an issue you feel strongly about and want to advocate your idea on how to make it right. You might have personal experience of an issue and want to share that to highlight a different perspective. Or you might have spent time learning about something and think, like us, that it would be a shame not to share what you know so we can all be better informed. All of these are great ways to come up with a topic and at any stage you can get in touch with us to talk about your ideas.
Step 2: Writing the work
Once you’ve picked your idea, you have to get down to the hard work of writing it. We have a full set of guidelines on what to look out for when you’re writing, but I’ve picked some of the most common mis-steps people make so that you can avoid them.
Write for the public
If you’re used to writing for one context, like for an academic essay, you might not stop to think when you put pen to paper on your blog. But it’s really important to write so that anyone can understand. That means doing things like explaining any jargon or acronyms, including hyperlinks instead of a full bibliography, and keeping your tone clear and concise.
Stick to one topic
Policy can be a complicated place. You might start writing about one thing and then end up on a completely different topic. But try and keep one central argument running through your piece so that it is as easy to follow as possible.
Focus on the solution
In such a short piece of writing, we don’t expect anyone to solve the ‘big issues’ like regional inequality or structural racism. But we do all have ideas on what could help and where to start. Always end your piece with your ideas on what to do about the issue.
Step 3: Editing
Once you’ve finished your first draft, send it in to us, either through our website or by emailing our editorial team. An editor will be chosen to work with you on your draft and will give you feedback to make sure your writing is line with our standards. It might take a little work to get everything polished up but it’s well worth it when you see the end result.
Step 4: Publication
Last step! After you and your editor agree on a final draft, it’s ready to go out into the world. Our Content and Marketing Team take it from there and will create a special graphic just for your work. After it goes out on our website, they’ll advertise it to all our followers and will work to make sure it catches the eye of both the general public and any policymakers who might be interested.
Here a few other useful tips on how to write blogs, particularly ones about policy to be published by think tanks -
How to write a blog — a guide for think-tankers and campaigners.