Greenversations Blog Guidance
Disclaimer: This is EPA Guidance for how EPA uses the Greenversations blog. We have posted our guidance publicly in the spirit of collaboration. Other agencies and organizations may use social media differently.
Note: Remember that your official activities on-line are subject to the ethics regulations Intranet as well as other federal and agency laws, policies and regulations. In addition, existing policies and guidance for accessibility Intranet, privacy, external site links, cookies, and writing style apply to social media tools as well. References to these are included at the end of this document.
On this page:
These are the guidelines that the Office of External Affairs uses for the posts on the Greenversation blog. When writing a post for Greenversations, you should:
- Write 200-400 words for each entry (about 3/4 page of printed 12-point text).
- No ghostwriting. Write your own posts.
- Provide a very brief (1-2 sentences) biography of yourself, including name, relationship to EPA, and pertinent facts that will illuminate your blog entries. For example: Jack Sprat joined EPA's Denver office in 2006 and oversees underground injection wells in Great Plains states. His family's recent purchase of a hybrid car was inspired by their desire to improve air quality in the Rocky Mountains.
- Submit or suggest at least one image, graphic, video, or other non-text item to include in your post. HQ Public Affairs can help you find appropriate materials if necessary, and will ensure that posts are accessible to people with disabilities.
- Use personal experiences and perspective to engage the reader. Sharing your own interests and background lets readers see you as someone with issues and concerns similar to theirs, connecting them to EPA's mission. Similarly, you can connect issues at the personal level to how their businesses can help protect the environment. Examples: buying a new car, hiking and appreciating clean air, learning about your home's drinking water quality, and learning about compact fluorescent light bulbs.
- Write expressively about how you personally are involved with EPA's efforts. Don't focus on your job title or position, but rather share stories of your work. Help people understand why EPA's efforts matter. Examples: taking air samples, responding to emergencies, serving on research vessels like the Bold, inspecting facilities, and talking to kids about protecting the environment.
- Write in an informal, personal tone. Think party conversation, not news release or fact sheet. Write as if you are writing to friend with the expectation of getting something back. If you want, HQ Public Affairs can help you work on this.
- Ask questions of your readers. This helps to foster a more open exchange of information and dialogue. Some examples you might use are "What do you think?" or "Tell me your thoughts."
- Create a title for each post.
- Include at least one Web address on EPA's site (beginning with http:// ) where the reader can go for more information about your topic. More links are better. You may also link outside EPA's site if appropriate, but be sure to avoid any implied endorsement.
- Suggest keywords/tags for each post. Again, HQ Public Affairs can help. Keywords help readers find your post.
- Read comments made on your posts and respond as you see fit in the form of replying to a comment, or just adding a comment to the conversation. HQ Public Affairs will moderate comments. Note that comments may be critical, or even harsh. However, they will be approved unless they use vulgar language, are threatening, or violate other narrow restrictions.
Review comments against the comment policy. See Using the EPA Comment Policy for more details.
Never simply delete comments
If content does not meet the comment policy, retain the entire item and as much detail as possible (fan name, the date and time of posting, etc.) in an offline format. For example, comments can be stored in a simple Word document. Store multimedia content in its native format and note the details in the same Word document. Capture enough about the post and the response so that someone reading about it later gets the context. Note the reason that the content did not meet the comment policy. Then delete it from your page.
See Documenting Unapproved Comments Other than Spam for more details.
If you have questions about the Greenversations blog, contact Denise Owens (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Ethics (Office of General Counsel Web site) Intranet
- Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, 5 C.F.R. Part 2635
- Federal conflict of interest statutes at Title 18 of the United States Code
- Hatch Act as implemented by 5 C.F.R. Part 734
- External site links Web Standard
- Writing style Web Standard
- Representing EPA Online Using Social Media
- Social Media, Web-Based Interactive Technologies, and the Paperwork Reduction Act (PDF) (7 pp, 83K): OMB's memorandum on how and when to apply PRA to social media
- The Web Guide is the authoritative source for Web sites and applications at EPA.
- The Social Media @ EPA blog provides answers to questions about social media at EPA.
- The Information Collection Request Center Intranet describes information collection requirements imposed on the public by the EPA.
- Special Terms of Service Agreements have been negotiated with various social media sites that resolve the legal issues with the standard Terms of Service (TOS) users have to agree to when setting up an account.