Climate policy needs to change, and you want a pithy, compelling case that conveys urgency and impact.
The problem: Key information needs to be taken into account by policymakers. But climate is a complex topic, and you're unsure how to make it intriguing for a non-expert without compromising accuracy.
The solution: Everyone is vying for policymakers' attention and funding. As a result, they are constantly spreading their time and expertise across a wide array of subject areas, weighing the merits of many worthy causes against each other, and making tough priority decisions based on predicted medium- and long-term outcomes.
To get a policymakers attention:
- Quickly establish a clear link between the implications of your key message and the depth of benefit that the policymakers' constituents can expect to see.
- Clearly state tangible actions the policymaker is well-positioned to take.
- Employ intuitive visuals.
- Leverage strategic formatting and page design to draw attention to the must-have messages and maximize skimmability.
- Keep the brief at four pages or less.
You're ready to assert your climate thesis and position yourself among stakeholders.
The problem: You want to publicly assert your climate thesis or take a position on a climate issue to establish your organizational authority, gain traction, and win support.
The solution: A white paper is a great way to establish your expert position on a specific topic within climate action and offer evidence to encourage others to align with you. It describes the problem at hand, its importance, the rationale of your particular approach to solving it, and your expert insights and recommendations for the future. This document is central to many organizations’ existence, capturing why they chose to commit to their mission and how they determined the best approach to addressing it.
To write your own white paper:
- First identify the core message and target audience for the paper.
- Build an outline and revise it based on team and stakeholder feedback.
- Meet with small groups of team members and stakeholders to elicit honest perspectives and input. Wording that everyone can agree with is key to internal and external alignment!
- Synthesize and represent these diverse perspectives with a unified voice and position in the draft.
- Conduct a validation workshop to ensure alignment across all contributors.
- Finally, recruit a pair of entirely fresh eyes to complete an in-depth copyedit of the file, including formatting, design, and citation accuracy.
You want to submit an outstanding proposal that decisively meets requirements and exceeds expectations.
The problem: You're the right choice for this climate work -- and the funding. Now you need to prove it.
The solution: Identify opportunities that suit your needs and areas of strength within the climate space. These opportunities go by many terms – Call for Proposals (CFP), Requests for Proposals (RFPs), Invitation to Bid (ITB), and Expression of Interest (EOI) to name a few. There’s a broad gamut of opportunity providers, and it’s worth exploring all of them. You might be surprised to see that you qualify for a consultancy, a government grant, an accelerator program, venture backing, or trust funding. Funding is pouring into climate action like never before, and many of the opportunities are designed with swift action in mind.
- Determine when applications will be accepted and begin preparing your material well in advance. For recurring annual awards, a year in advance is not too early to begin preparation.
- Delve into the evaluation criteria and define every way in which your initiative meets each one. For young organizations, this may require developing an organizational chart, mission statement, theory of change, or other self-identity documents.
- Build a budget that reflects standard market rates, specifies any matching funds, and ensures that you will have enough funding to execute the promised deliverables.
- Understand the reporting requirements and ensure you budget for the staff and skills necessary to meet them – some can be quite rigorous and may drain or distract from your main focus if you’re not prepared.
- Draft responses to each question, emphasizing how you meet the evaluation criteria and employing the awarding organization’s terminology whenever possible without exceeding word limits.
- Ensure you’ve met the formatting requirements for initial acceptance of the file, and submit it before midnight local time on the deadline.
Your brainstorm is on paper. Now it needs a good cleaning so it speaks straight to your audience about the crucial climate issues at stake.
The problem: You have a draft on paper and it needs work – it’s too long, there’s no formatting, and you’re not sure it makes climate exciting for your target audience.
The solution: That file needs upleveling! Content upleveling is something akin to a makeover – still the same at its core, but polished and packaged in a way that makes it shine. This is by far our most sought-after service. It includes proofreading, copyediting, line editing, and suggested opportunities for changing the content. It also includes creating clean formatting, acronym lists, tables of contents, citations and references, and publication-ready design. After an uplevel, your document will be tight, easy to read, grammatically impeccable, properly formatted, visually exciting, and tailored to the vocabulary and attention style of your target audience.
- Recruit someone to copyedit your document who has never read it before, who has a near-perfect knowledge of the language, and who is highly empathetic; they need to be able to both put themselves in your place to imagine what you meant to say, and put themselves in the place of your audience to imagine what they would understand reading your text.
- Now take the time to identify your audience, what they know about your topic, what they don’t know, and what their primary priorities are – all of these determine how to engage your audience and where they need additional context to understand.
- Ensure tracked changes is activated in the file so that the authors can review your edits.
- Use software like Grammarly to conduct a first-pass of basic corrections.
- Now, read the file closely, simultaneously considering correct language and grammar, what the author meant, and what the audience would understand.
- Make improvements, and leave comments for the author where additional information is needed from them.
- Aim to minimize their work – if necessary, make a decision using your good judgement and ask them to validate it.
You need to hone in on a strategy that will work with your existing resources and exponentially amplify your climate impact.
The problem: Your work in climate won’t gain traction or win support until the right people understand your messages. But you have limited resources, and the obligations to regularly post everywhere add up fast.
The solution: A communication strategy is a great up-front investment that will get you focused on the communication channels that will yield 80/20 returns for your reputation, stakeholders support, and impact.
To build your communication strategy:
- Identify an external facilitator who can help your team take new perspectives on your audience’s problems and the benefits that you bring to them.
- Investigate the communications strategies of others attempting to solve the same problem, as well as the preferred platform, voice, and style of your target audience.
- Then, develop a suite of big promise, headline, tagline, and support text copy.
- Finally, calendar a publication strategy that speaks to your audience and works within your human, time, and capital resources.
ARTICLES & BLOGS
Your climate work is relevant to current events, and you want to get the news published ASAP.
The problem: You want to make information about your climate work available online. It would influence on current events, build your reputation as an active participant, and let others know what you’re doing and the results you’re achieving.
The solution: Publishing an article (in a news source platform) or a blog (on your own website) is a great way to make information readily available to almost anyone who wants to learn about your work.
To create yours:
- First decide where you’d like it to be published. News platforms typically put out calls via social media or email for stories on a particular topic; on your own blog, you can address the topic from any angle you like, but it may receive less attention. A middle-of-the-road option is to build a regular news thread on an existing opensource news platform like LinkedIn or Medium.
- Carefully consider who you’re speaking to, and try to write as if you were alone in a room with them.
- Draw exponential attention by building immediate links between your work and points of strong interest among that group of people.
- Avoid dense technical detail, and offer ways for interested individuals to learn more or get involved. In this way, your writing acts as an intruiging movie trailer rather than a full-length documentary.
You want a robust review to document key findings and strategically guide next steps in your climate work.
The problem: The next phase of your climate work must be supported and informed by clear, documented findings that will stand up to the scrutiny of policymakers, funders, and your organization's leadership.
The solution: An engaging, thorough, easy- to- read report supports good decision-making going forward, allows others to build on your expertise, and gives stakeholders clear reference points to align with.
To draft your report:
- Get clear on the research questions to be addressed by combing through your existing team assets -- ranging from academic manuscripts to raw datasets -- to begin to flesh out the outline.
- Next, leverage reliable online resources to conduct original scientific research and build out background and additional justification.
- Plan informational interviews with topical experts to capture as-yet-unwritten knowledge.
- Then, organize, combine, and synthesize research findings to develop novel conclusions and generate original recommendations for the next phase of your work.
- Share these preliminary results with key stakeholder representatives via a validation session to ensure alignment with each expert’s vision and accuracy of the subtleties of their areas of expertise.
- Refine the draft based on their feedback.
- Finally, recruit a pair of entirely fresh eyes to uplevel the file, including copyediting, formatting, design, and references.
You’ve done or discovered something new in climate. Stake your claim and share the knowledge so that science can stand on your shoulders.
The problem: You’ve tried something new in the climate space. You want to affiliate yourself with the work and share your findings with other experts so they can build on it rather than reinvent the wheel. A report or post just doesn’t feel like enough.
The solution: When you’ve broken new ground, it’s important to share what you’ve done and the results with others working on the same problems. This is the only way to be rightfully recognized for your work. Even more importantly, it’s the only way the scientific community can advance together – knowledge is far more powerful when it is shared. This holds true even when the findings are not exciting or not what you hoped; the absence of results is in itself a result that will influence others’ work and contribute to meta-analyses in your field. A great way to share your novel approach with your peers is to publishing your process and findings in an academic journal.
To get started:
- Identify a target journal whose scope and mission strongly correlate with your findings.
- Determine if they accept submissions and in what form.
- Develop an argument for your work based on recent peer-reviewed work in the field.
- Present and justify your methodology, describe your results, and discuss the implications and importance of the results, as well as their limitations.
- Clarify what next steps in scientific study would be warranted.
- Ensure your language style, word count, citation style, reference list, sectioning, and numbering comply with journal requirements.
- Revise the file based on feedback from the journal editor in advance of publication.
You know where your climate team wants to go, and you'd like an organizer to ensure that milestones are established and deadlines are met.
The problem: You team has a big new climate project and a deep commitment to succeed. But everyone is so busy with the day-to-day that they’re struggling to stay organized, accountable, and in contact to meet milestones.
The solution: A project manager’s job is to ensure all the balls stay in the air and the team steadily advances to meet your goals and deadlines. Recruit a project manager who can dive into the details without taking their eyes off the big-picture goals, and who is strong in both logistical organization and human empathy. Oftentimes an external project manager will bring more agility, objectivity, and fresh perspective to the project than an existing team member.
This person will:
- Define quantifiable standards for all major aspects of a project, including scope, deliverables, schedule, budget, communications, stakeholders, resources, quality, and risk.
- Select communications platforms and processes that fit within your team’s existing workflows.
- Track myriad progress metrics to uphold adherence to those standards for the duration of the project.
- Liaise across teams
- Represent the project to the broader organization and external stakeholders
- Broker problem-solving and compromise
- Act as the primary source of information on project progress for all stakeholders and leadership.
Your whole team in a room, without distractions, documenting proof of your climate work while up-leveling your in-house technical writing expertise.
The problem: You and your climate team know you need documented proof of your work to amplify your impact, but the drafting process is long, difficult, and delivers only tepid results.
The solution: There’s two elements at play here: distraction that prevents deep work, and writing processes designed for length rather than compelling, concise communication. The former is a challenge nearly all of us deal with, and particularly those in managerial positions. The latter is a vestige of those school days when the primary requirement for your report was page length! Our signature writeshops tackle both of these issues.
Here's the process:
- Move the entire team off-site for at least four days.
- Build a shared publication plan, complete with priorities, responsibilities, and timelines.
- Use a logical, scientific approach to building the structure of your draft and identifying gaps in the content.
- As a group, identify who you want to talk to – your target audience – and consider what they know, what they don’t know, and what’s important to them.
- Test for alignment on your shared vision of your target audience by classifying what is need-to-know, nice-to-know, and too much information for them.
- Now decide what key messages you absolutely want your audience to hear. As a group, test different ways of conveying those messages until you find the best one.
- Begin breaking the key messages into an outline to overcome white-page paralysis.
- Practice helping your colleagues employ style and concision.
- Finally, revist the publication plan with renewed confidence in your writing abilities and excitement for what is to come.
Learn our five steps to written success.
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