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iWorkforce-i Editorial Guidelines

October 22, 1999
Related Topics: Featured Article
Whether you are a freelance writer, an HR practitioner, an attorney, aconsultant, or a PR person representing a company or product, please keep thefollowing guidelines in mind when you've got a story idea for Workforce magazineand Workforce online.

Reader Profile
    Workforce readers and users are human resources professionals who are movingbeyond their traditional roles as policy police and picnic planners. They areactively working to make their businesses better.

    They are college educated and have been in the human resources field anaverage of 12 years. Our community of readers and users works in all industries,and in organizations of all sizes; the average reader works in an organizationwith 1,200 employees.

Content Goals
    Workforce presents these HR professionals with the trends and tools they needto bring about important business results in their companies or non-profits.Both the magazine and the Web site establish context, raise awareness, and sighttrends. Both offer HR professionals the tools they need to take action, andpresent content that shows how HR achieves business results.

    HR's business impact might be helping to achieve a specific business goal,such as opening a new market, remaking a hiring initiative, creating a trainingprogram that improves profitability, launching a new product, or completing anacquisition.

    Workforce recognizes that much of what HR addresses begins outside theorganization. HR is shaped (in part) by the economy, changes in society,legislation and legal decisions, and general business trends. HR doesn't existin a vacuum. It doesn't run programs for their own sake, but because they canhelp the organization achieve a business result. That result might be preventingcostly lawsuits, slashing administrative costs, or consistently hiring toptalent. HR's impact also might be found in its contribution to higher profits,greater productivity, higher stock prices, or greater market share. Whateverform the impact might take, it must be specific and measurable.

Feature Packages
    To make HR trends and tools for business results as useable as possible forour audience, writers and editors create feature packages containing severalelements, as opposed to the more traditional 2,000-word-long narratives.Examples of these feature packages can be seen in our most recent issues (Dec.2000 and later).

    When we assign freelance writers to create story packages for us, we pay themat rates commensurate with their background and experience, and the story'scomplexity and length. Contributors who are HR professionals and others in thefield are compensated by the exposure they receive on the Web site and in themagazine. We ask you to sign an agreement to that effect.

    The feature packages we publish identify trends, provide readers with toolsthey can use in the course of their work, and give readers examples of thebusiness results that come about through steps taken by the companies and peoplewe write about.

    Here are some ways to think about presenting your story:

  • Trends: What's happening in the world, socially, economically, andpolitically that affects HR and its work? How does the trend present itself? Arethere statistics, studies, company experiences, etc. that demonstrate that thisis an actual trend and not just an inconsequential blip on the business radar?

  • Tools: In a story about formalizing flextime (Feb. 2001 issue), the toolsincluded a sample flextime proposal from PricewaterhouseCoopers, seven tips fromexperts who have established workable flextime programs and a list of Webresources. These were all separate elements of the feature package.

  • Business results: These represent HR's impact in the organization. How did HRhelp a company save money, increase profitability, retain key employees, etc.,as a result of the initiative being described? Case studies are an excellent wayto present these results. "Formalized Flextime" presented three casestudies of how companies approached flextime scheduling.

What Kinds of Stories Do We Want?
    You are probably a regular reader, but if not, we suggest getting two orthree recent copies of the magazine and reading through them. The most recentissues -- December 2000 and thereafter -- are a reflection of the kinds of storieswe're looking for. You also can read recent stories on the Website. Although feature packages are presented a little differentlyon the Web, they still give you a good idea of how we're presenting our content.(The top story on the homepage is usually something that also is featured inthat month's magazine.)

    If you have a story idea, it's a good idea to first pitch it to the editorsvia e-mail. A pitch should be a succinct description of what the story would beabout, who you would talk to, what sidebars and "tool" material mightbe appropriate, etc. That way, we can see whether the idea interests us withoutyour going through the whole writing process only to discover it's something wedid last year or something that's not a good fit for our audience.

    For example, Workforce does not publish articles that just summarizepublished thought on a topic-say, a piece that deals in the abstract withstrikes or unions. Instead, in the November issue, we examined how a "neweconomy" strike at Verizon contained important lessons for all HRprofessionals. Once we had published a trend story on the graying workforce, wepresented a feature package of stories on how HR can go about hiring olderworkers, and making the most of their talents (Feb. 2001).

    Also, Workforce is not a research journal or an academic Web site. However,we are committed to keeping readers informed of new trends and developments, aswe did in a story about impairment testing as an alternative to drug testing.When writing about research, the focus must be on the implications of theresults, not on the methodology. These articles may summarize either currentpractice (e.g., how many employers use pre-employment testing and a discussionof whether the number is increasing or decreasing and why) or discuss a newtechnique or system. In the latter case, articles should include some evidencethat the idea has been tested in an actual organization.

General Advice

  • Be specific. Many stories are not of interest to us because they are toosuperficial. Remember that readers need details. For example, don't merelyadvise readers to plan for retention, but instead find an interesting aspect ofthe retention challenge (see Nov. 2000's story, "Retention on theBrink.")

  • Get to the point. Choose a single point to be made by the piece and statethat point in the first two paragraphs. Although background informationoccasionally is helpful, several pages of introductory material should notprecede the discussion at hand.

  • Be original. If you already have a manuscript that you want us to consider,it must be original and previously unpublished.

  • Attribute information. Identify the sources of information cited. Forexample, rather than merely noting that "30 percent of American employersoffer child care benefits," say, "Thirty percent of American employersoffer child care benefits, according to the US Department of Labor."

Lead Time and Acknowledgments
    Workforce magazine is published monthly, and we assign stories approximatelythree months in advance (In early March, for example, we are assigning storiesfor the June issue). The lead time for the Web site is a little more flexible.

    Given the volume of material we receive, we do not acknowledge allsubmissions. However, if we decide to use your story, we'll e-mail you to letyou know, and send you an agreement for your signature. If you send a manuscriptand want it returned, include a self-addressed stamped envelope. Publishingdecisions usually are made within six weeks of receipt. Once a manuscript hasbeen accepted, writers should allow as long as six months for publication.

Manuscript Specifications
    When preparing manuscripts, please observe the following:

  1. Let us know if you are simultaneously submitting your piece to more thanone publication .

  2. Submit manuscripts as attached files in Microsoft Word or as a plain text(ASCII) file. Use the subject line of your e-mail to indicate that you aresubmitting a manuscript for review. Within the e-mail, please include your fullname, e-mail address, street address, and telephone number. Direct yoursubmissions to Carroll Lachnit.

  3. Although electronic submissions are much preferred, we will considersometimes hard-copy manuscripts. Please do not submit manuscripts by fax. Ifsubmitting by mail, please send to: Ronda Lathion, content developmentadministrator, Workforce, PO Box 2440, Costa Mesa, CA 92628. If you aresubmitting hard-copy manuscripts, please send two copies. Please double-spacethe hard-copy manuscript and use standard margins. Include a stamped,self-addressed envelope if you want the material to be returned to you.

  4. The author's name, title, organization, address, telephone and faxnumbers, and e-mail address should appear on the first page. Similar informationfor co-author(s) should be included as appropriate. Please indicate which authorshould receive correspondence.

  5. Please include a brief (two sentence) biography of the author(s).

  6. All illustrative material (charts, graphs, tables) should be referred toas figures and numbered consecutively as they appear in the text.

  7. Generally, Workforce retains all rights for re-use of the manuscript.Occasional exceptions are made.

  8. Please do not send anything that you need returned (such as your only copyof a graphics file).

Specialized Content
    We use more than just feature stories in the magazine and on our Web site.There are several ways in which users, readers and others may contributematerial.

  • Mini case studies: Sum up in 300 or so words how your organization solved aproblem, found a new twist on an old strategy, or using an HR strength toimprove the organization. For example: UPS found a way to bring inner-cityworkers to its suburban facility, solving two serious workforce problems withone great idea-subsidized public transportation.

  • "Raw Data": Do you have a company document that encapsulates agreat idea, presents an insightful mission statement or demonstrates how HR isdoing its job creatively? We'd like to see it. Some examples: Hewlett-Packard'soriginal mission statement; Ben & Jerry's job description for a"guerilla marketing" ice-cream sampler; Time-Warner/AOL's memo on howits benefits would be realigned in the wake of the merger.

  • Assessments: Do you have any self-assessments, quizzes, or other interactivetools that HR professionals can uses to make decisions on hiring, promotion,teams, organizational direction, or other areas? We would love to take a look atyour assessment tools, and possibly use them a sidebar or back-up material tosupport a feature article on the Web site or in the magazine. In all cases, thesource is credited.

  • Opinion: Editorials of 600-850 words about topics in news, sports,entertainment, culture, society, and business affecting workplaces appear in the"Work Views" section of the Web site. Keep your editorial to onetopic, and feel free to write about the stuff you talk about at the kitchentable -- your passions.

  • Survey results: We welcome the results of surveys about the HR profession orabout issues of interest to HR professionals. This material may be used as asidebar to other material, as a graph to accompany other material, as back-upmaterial to support a feature article, or within an article. In all cases, thesource is credited.

  • Samples and resources: Because Workforce gives its users the tools they needto take action, we welcome samples of policies (such as a sexual harassmentpolicy, employee travel policy, and so on), employee communication material(material encouraging enrollment in a 401(k) plan, for example), forms (such asan application form) and other material that users can learn from.

  • Humor: Some of the strangest things happen at work. Even HR professionalscan't be serious all the time, so we encourage submissions of anecdotes (storiesabout things that happened at work), examples (memorable gaffes on resumes, forexample), and other work-related humor. Please, keep it clean.

    If you have further questions about a manuscript or an idea for a featurepackage for Workforce magazine or Workforce online, please send e-mail toCarroll Lachnit, content managing editor, 714/751-1883ext. 224, or to Todd Raphael, online editor,714/751-1883, ext. 223.

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