Story Templates for certs Blog



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The MN Energy Stories blog from the Clean Energy Resource Teams brings you news about clean energy projects and opportunities happening across the state.


The blog highlights local innovation, economic development, cost savings, job growth, and sustainability. These are inspiring stories of local communities like yours that are taking the lead to build Minnesota’s clean energy future.
We want to tell your stories! Use the templates below for ideas about formats for your stories. Please include a one-sentence bio telling us who you are and what you do related to energy. Remember that CERTs is a non-partisan, non-policy partnership, so please avoid talking about policy, and keep it positive! Please be sure to attach photos to your email if you have them—they help tell the stories.
Submitting your story: When you’re done, you can send them to our Story Editor, Dan Thiede, at thie0235@umn.edu and we’ll work with you to get them online!

Story templates: [1] Classic blog post [2] Interview [3] The brief [4] In-depth case study

Classic Blog Post


About: This is a traditional post format. It’s all original content that you write. It can be a short story about a project that you helped with or learned about, a recap of a regional event, thoughts about things that inspire you, a review of a great book you read, or actions that people can take. Keep it concise, interesting, and funny if possible! And be real—don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through in your writing.

Word count: 300-1,000
Structure:


  • Start with a brief, catchy opener that piques the readers interest and gives them a sense for what’s to come.

  • Follow with more details about your topic, in paragraph form.

  • When it makes sense, don’t be afraid to use bullets to summarize key points.

  • Quotations from people you’re talking to, short excerpts from books or reports (and the like) are nice.

  • Include links to organizations, more info, and related content whenever you can.

  • Close by giving a sense for where something is going, or how they can learn more.


Examples:

  • Solar project a 'dream fulfilled' for Woodbury homeowner Kerry Smith

  • Latino-owned restaurants in Minneapolis save energy and money with efficiency measures

  • Community-Based Social Marketing: What it is and what it means to me and you

Interview
About: Interviews are a great way to let someone tell their own story, and they’re pretty dang easy to put together. You can interview someone generally about the work they do, or more specifically about a project that they’ve done. A combination of the two is most common. It’s all original content that you (and your interviewee) write.
Word count: 500-800
Structure:

  • Start with a general intro talking about what the person is doing and who they are.

  • Then simply write the question that you asked followed by their responses.

  • End with their contact details if they are okay with that and link(s) to more info about them and their work.

Sample questions:


  • Tell me a little about yourself and your work.

  • What got you interested in this project?

  • Can you tell me more about the project—the technology, planning process, etc.?

  • Who installed the project?

  • What have been the results? Is the system performing well?

  • Do you have any suggestions for others thinking about projects like this?


Examples:

  • Solar-Powered Off-the-Grid Greenhouse at Badgersett Farm: Interview with Owner Phil Rutter

  • Dairy farmer installs solar in Goodhue County: An interview with Peter Reese

  • Interview with First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, winner of EPA Battle of the Buildings

The Brief


About: This one’s pretty common, and very easy. You read a story in the local paper or know of an opportunity and it’s worth highlighting. For these we add enough information so people get the gist (and try to make it fun if we can). And then we add a link to more information for opportunities and a link to the original content for news stories. If the original content is copyrighted, rewrite it or paraphrase. If it’s not, then you can reuse it, but always give credit where credit is due.
Word count: 100-400
Structure:

  • A couple opening sentences.

  • A couple sentences that go into more detail.

  • A link to the original content or opportunity.


Examples:

  • Wow, Minnesota has some darn energy-efficient schools!

  • Skating to Major Energy Savings with Efficiency Upgrades at Elk River Ice Rink

  • Get a talented student to help you with your energy projects this summer!

In-Depth Case Study
About: CERTs writes lots of case studies, and once in a while we post them in full on the blog. Many times we also publish these as case studies in our more formal PDF template. This is a longer format—for when you really have a complete story to tell and there are lots of nice details. We typically interview one or two people about a project or projects that they have completed and then turn these interviews into a compelling narrative. It’s all original content that you write.
Word count: 800-2,000
Structure:


  • See tips for structure and more in the CERTs Case Study Research Guide



Sample interview questions for info gathering:



  • Basics:

    • How, when and why did this project begin?

    • Who spearheaded it, and what is your involvement?

    • Are there any other groups involved? What are their roles?

    • What has been the reaction of other individuals and groups in the community?

  • Process:

    • Bringing a partnership together

    • Building community support/awareness

    • Planning the project: step-by-step highlights

  • Technical info:

    • Equipment used, contractors

    • Why were these selected?

    • Amount of energy saved/produced

    • Are you connected to the grid?

  • Financing:

    • What are the project costs?

    • What is the expected payback?

    • Other funding sources: rebates, credits, grants, donations, etc.
  • Reflection:


    • What are the benefits for the project partners and the greater community?

    • What are the biggest successes associated with this project?

    • What obstacles have you encountered and how did you overcome them?

    • What do you wish you had known before you started, which would be helpful to others?

    • How did CERTs help your efforts?

  • Wrapping up:

    • Have any other projects been developed as a result of this effort?

    • Is there anyone else that you recommend talking to?

    • Can we provide your contact information to the public so that they can follow up with you?


Examples:

  • Paying attention vs. Paying bills: Getting to 100% renewable energy at Prairie Woods ELC

  • Providing Neighborhood Energy Services to Residents through Workshops & Home Visits

  • Teaming Up to Combat Fuel Poverty in Central Minnesota






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