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Story & Audience

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What’s a Stanford Engineering story?

Our stories should showcase the breadth of the research enterprise at Stanford School of Engineering.

We write about research papers, as well as interesting courses, ongoing research, student leadership, and programs and initiatives that address one of our key themes. We also share stories about faculty, students, staff and alumni that showcase their backgrounds and stories, and in particular the scientific endeavor and the value of engineering research and education.

A story needs to:

  • Be compelling: Research stories should be compelling to a reader who is generally interested in science or technology but doesn’t follow a field closely. The research should touch the lives of people either in a tangible way — through advances that improve lives — or by expanding our knowledge of the world we live in.
  • Tell a story: The goal of a story isn’t simply to explain the science. Stories should bring the reader into the scientific process. That could mean explaining how the research came about or how researchers feel about the results or by exploring new ideas and collaborations.
  • Be visual: All stories need at least one compelling image. The image should evoke what the story is about rather than show data or other information that needs explanation. Where possible, we prefer multiple images or video to help illustrate the story.

Who is our audience?

Stanford Engineering stories reach a wide audience through news releases, social media, web search, pick up within Stanford units and reposting on external sites.

Writing for our audience means producing stories that are engaging, interesting, relevant, and provide enough background for someone who is not immersed in the field.

Our hypothetical reader:

  • BS in economics, MS in international policy, both from top tier schools
  • Senior program manager at an international organization
  • Has teenage kids
  • Reads the New York Times, a local paper, New Yorker and the Economist
  • Active on social media and posts links to stories of interest
  • Talks about news of interest at work and socially

With this background, our reader:

  • Is smart
  • Is busy
  • Can learn and synthesize complex information
  • Is focused on real-world problems
  • Is paying attention to schools doing world-changing work
  • Will stop reading our stories in favor of other reading material if a story isn’t interesting or relevant
  • Expects quality writing and can distinguish propaganda from storytelling
  • Should be able to easily summarize what they learned from the story and say why it is interesting.

This reader is likely to turn away from stories that are too technical or too promotional in tone, or that aren’t relevant or relatable.