What's your story?
Length: 600-1,000 words is our standard length, though exceptions can be made.
Tone: Make it personal and conversational — speak in your own voice. Make it positive. The more people can see hope for a resolution of the problem, the more they will engage with your topic and ideas.
Theme: Your topic is your own, but consider and explore its relationships with the social determinants of health. Draw the connections between the social and economic challenges you’re discussing, and what it means for the health outcomes of Canadians —of your reader. Then present the upstream solutions to address those source challenges.
Content: Make it clear why the reader should care, and include a call to action, even if it’s just to engage others to spread awareness. Try to focus on one or a few major points or arguments.
Draw on your own personal experience. It can be a story about you, someone you know or even fictional, but it’s vital to put a human face on your evidence in order to engage and change minds. Guide the reader in developing a mental image of the situation, the struggle, the challenge.
Include one or more eye catching image, it can make an astonishing difference for online engagement. The higher the resolution, the better.
Try to keep the grade level low — simpler language and short paragraphs make your work and your story more accessible to the public. Avoid academic and technical language.
Source, source, source. A foundation of evidence is key. Try to find linkable online sources available to the general public, and avoid citations from books and journal articles whenever possible.
Data is great, but the public finds it much more appetizing if you can represent data graphically. Using infographics can help us to reach a much larger audience with a data-driven piece. If you have a piece of data you think would be great to represent visually, let us know, we may be able to help.
Upstream uses a precise and deliberate voice. We’re careful to ensure that our messages are positive, non-partisan, and always communicate the need for thoughtful action on the social determinants of health. Please allow time for Upstream staff to review your submission prior to publishing so that feedback can be provided. Feel free to provide us an early draft to be sure you are on the right track.
We recommend adhering to these time-tested rules if you can, though we always provide editing support to make your piece as readable, shareable and spreadable as possible.