Guide for ‘contributors’ and ‘editors’ of this blog

We have created this user’s guide for people who add content to this regional blog in their roles as either contributors or editors. If we have forgotten to include something useful, please use the Contact Us page to let us know what you think that is.


As we described on our About this site page, this Red Cross Update blog is a gateway to the stories, information, and other information related to the impactful work done by the people of the Red Cross’s Northern California Coastal Region (NCCR). Please remember that this is an official American Red Cross communication (as such, please read the Terms of Use statement that applies to this blog).


WordPress is currently the host of our NCCR blog. It was built by Jim Burns of NCCR’s Marketing & Communications team in the fall of 2017 in order to create an online home for stories the department and volunteers produced about the people and activities that take place in our amazing Red Cross region. The first collection of stories we added, in part to test the blog, were a number written about the Red Cross response to that fall’s fires in Santa Rosa and other areas of our region.

The site’s domain name was secured by Jim, working with National and the vendor they use for official Red Cross domain names, MarkMonitor.

The site was built using the framework of WordPress’ Dynamic News theme. Jim customized the look and functionality of the site with additional CSS code.


Getting a username, assignment to a ‘contributor’ role

If you’ve been asked to be a contributor to this site by a member of NCCR’s Marketing & Communications team, please go to this WordPress web page to acquire a WP username (if you don’t already have one for this or some other purpose):

After you have acquired a WP username, please ask your MarCom sponsor to add you (using your WP username) to this NCCR site as a contributor. (This will also enable your posts to be identified as coming from you rather than the blog administrator or your other MarCom sponsor.)

Uploading content

  • Before uploading content to this blog site, please review this entire section first, including the “Editorial Guidelines” and “Image Guidelines” sections, below.
  • Designated contributors to our blog site generally supply content in one of two ways: They agree to provide content if asked about the possibility of doing so by a member of the MarCom team; or they pitch a story idea to their MarCom sponsor. If the content idea is assigned or approved, please submit the content by following these steps:
  • Log into your WordPress account and select the “Write” box. After completing the title and body text of your proposed blog post, please hit the “Submit for Review” button. If asked, please remember that this site’s URL is
  • Submitting your content for review will send your draft to the MarCom team for review. (It is advisable that you contact that person to make them aware that there is a draft awaiting their review in the admin section of this site.)
  • Please note that — for reasons that are not entirely clear to us — contributors are unable to include images in their draft post using this otherwise easy WP method. Because of that, images, captions, and any required Information Release forms (see Image Guidelines, below) must be emailed to your MarCom sponsor separately.
  • If you are submitting content through your WordPress account, please try to use the Classic Editor in WordPress rather than the system’s newer Block Editor, as — at least at this time — it’s easier for your Editor to access draft content that’s been uploaded using the Classic Editor.
  • If it is easier or more comfortable for you to do so, you may also just email your content (draft text, images, Info Release forms) directly to your MarCom sponsor for review and publication.

Editorial guidelines

  • When writing blog posts, remember “less is often more” as your post’s readers may want to access less detail than you want to provide. Many blog experts suggest that posts be 300 to 600 words in length.
  • If you can, please also review Red Cross style guide and the Disaster Public Affairs Messaging Book in the Exchange.

Image guidelines

  • For a variety of reasons, we have been able to better utilize horizontal images on this particular site. You may submit vertical images, but please place an emphasis on getting horizontal photos to accompany your post.
  • Your Editor will crop your photo to fit our specifications, below. So, when taking photos, please give that person some flexibility by having some dead space around the main subject area.
  • Remember to submit a completed Information Release form to your Editor for each individual who is in a photo you submit for possible usage.


Editing content:

  • Edit for clarity, impact, and style.
  • Try to preserve the contributor’s voice.

Publishing steps:

  • Select a Category for your post. This is most often either “Featured Posts” (top half of the page) or Other Recent Posts. (We have also used the Category designation recently to group posts about large-scale disasters.)
  • Select Tags (please don’t add to the list that’s already there; just select as many Tags as appropriate from that list. Always check the “Regional” tag.)
  • Select Featured Image if it is your intent to have this be in the Featured Posts section.
  • Fill out Excerpt field, as that populates the teaser if your post will be the lead item (most recent that is published) under Featured Posts. Filling out this field also dynamically populates content on our regional web pages (under “Read our blog”).
  • Before publishing a new Featured Post, please remember to first remove one of the 4 that is already there. (The best way to do that is to edit that post and change its category from Featured Posts to Other Recent Posts; that way it won’t get lost, but will make room for the new post.)
  • Then publish your new post (and remember to go back to the blog’s home page to check that everything worked the way you expected it to.)

Image sizes:

  • Here are the sizes that we currently use for our posts:
    • Featured image for lead featured post — 420 x 140 px
    • Featured image for other three featured posts — 90 x 90 px (sometimes when a featured post moves from the lead space to the other 3 column, the original 420 x 140 px size still works; sometimes it doesn’t.
    • Lead image to be added to the beginning of the first paragraph of your story — 420 x 279 px. This image should then be moved into an align=right position. (Jim worked with National to ensure that the image size also works well on our regional web pages, which draw content dynamically from our blog.)
    • You don’t have to add more than one image (and if your post is starting off as an Other Featured Posts item, then you don’t even have to have one photo). But if you choose to add more than one image, please note that the last image you add to your post seems to be the one that is pulled for our regional web pages.