The guidance covers our UK market for Visit Wales and our international market for Wales.com. It includes a summary of our brand values and outlines the purpose of the websites, to help you understand who we are and what we do.
When creating content in Welsh for Croeso.Cymru, please refer to the separate Cymru editorial style guide.
The Wales Gateway
The Wales Gateway is a portfolio of digital content produced by the marketing sector of the Welsh Government. Initially this is the Wales.com and VisitWales.com websites, in multiple language variants and their associated social media channels.
It is expected that the portfolio will be added to over the next few years, to incorporate the Study In Wales and TradeandInvest.Wales sites along with their associated social media channels. There is also potential to add further sites from other sectors in the future.
Content on these sites should support the broader objectives of the Welsh Government?but are not focused on ministerial messaging.
Content Strategy - Telling stories
Our aim is to create engaging content that inspires and informs audiences, encouraging them to consider Wales and choose it as an attractive, viable destination for visits, investment, study or life.
We want our websites to use powerful storytelling that reflects a modern nation, told in voices that are unmistakably Wales; or by those who have experienced a particular aspect of Welsh life. They should be a source of stories that can be used across multiple activities including social and third-party platforms.
The main bulk of the website content should be evergreen (either never need updating, or need updating very rarely).?Each article commissioned for/published on Wales.com or VisitWales.com will be identified as belonging to one of our editorial strands.
Working with strands allows us to:
- add pace, variety and interest to our sites;
- provide a wider range of options at the commissioning stage;
- create new links between different subject areas: as well as “vertical” relationships between articles of similar topic, we also have “horizontal” relationships between articles of the same strand;
- provide new ways for audiences to discover and explore stories about Wales;
- bring greater consistency and efficiency to the commissioning process, avoiding “stand-alone” or one-off stories.
The Wales.com strands?are MEET, IDEAS, MADE, OUT OF OFFICE, THE BIG STORY and WELCOME.?There is also an OVERVIEW strand, used for a small number of introductory articles.
The VisitWales.com strands?are TRIPS, LISTS, TRAVELOGUE, THROUGH MY EYES, MY PLACE, VIRTUAL VISIT, AMAZING PLACES, and BACKSTAGE.
Each set of strands has been identified to align with the kind of content most suited to each site.?There is also an additional Information page strand, used on both sites for a variety of informational articles.?The strands are intended as a framework rather than a strait-jacket. Content producers should try to keep to the format specified for each one, as they offer valuable signposts to the reader and tie the site together. However, if there are compelling reasons to make slight variations in the format, we can allow this sparingly.
Guidance notes on each strand including formats and word count can be found in our guide to?Working with strands?(pdf).
Words and pictures
Images are extremely important to our content. We aim to 'show' rather than tell with both words and images and video.
Use a strong lead banner image (hero image) at the top of the article, along with supporting imagery for the body copy. The hero image will be the default image that will showcase the article on section pages and in search results, so should demonstrate the essence of what the article is about.
For further guidance on the style and specification requirements of our images please refer to the?Wales Brand Photography Guidelines?(pdf).
Please view our?article page visual style guide?to?see how all the text and media components work together and some best practice guidance.
Cymru Wales brand guidelines
When creating content for any of our channels, writers/producers should observe the following core values from the Wales brand guidelines to provide a real sense of place.
Wales is the real deal. Open, honest – our country is built on the foundations of a proud history and heritage, and shaped by a bold and beautiful landscape. We care deeply for community, culture and cynefin (one’s square mile) and want to lead the world in protecting them. Because these resources power us: green growth, global creative exports, adventure attractions, quality local produce. Our authenticity is the key to our future.
Creativity is at the heart of our nation. Our rich and enduring culture is thriving: in music, literature, art, film, television and theatre. But it’s much more than that. Everywhere you look in Wales, there are bright new ideas being put into action. It’s happening in design studios and quarry mines, factories and laboratories across the country. There’s an entrepreneurial spirit in the air. We’re not just dreaming big, we’re making it happen.
A new Wales is emerging. Inspired by our past but looking towards the future with responsibility and creativity. Our landscapes are alive with nature and adventure. Our culture is alive with imagination. Our communities are alive with opportunity and real innovation. A new generation is investing in a bright and sustainable future, driven by talent and skill. Full of life.
Remember the brand values when writing your web copy. Every piece of copy should fulfil most or all of these five objectives:
- Does it elevate Wales’ status?
- Does it surprise and inspire?
- Does it change perceptions?
- Is it a “good thing”, contributing to a greater good for Wales?
- Is it unmistakably Wales?
Wales.com is a website that aims to promote Wales to the world. We think Wales is a great place to live, study, work and do business and the Wales.com website and associated social media is used to show the world what we can offer.
All features need to work as editorial articles, not sterile brochure copy. Although we want to get quite a lot of information in each one, it’s not a tick-box exercise – it has to stand up on its own merits as a compelling and readable story.
Wales.com Tone of Voice
Wales.com is the ‘parent' of the Gateway websites, with a remit to reach a broader audience of users with little knowledge of Wales and for whom English may not be their first language.?
Wales.com provides a high-level overview and directs users to other Welsh Government and relevant websites such as Visit Wales, Trade and Invest Wales and Study in Wales.
As the content is more informative and consists primarily of articles and facts, it requires a more formal tone than VisitWales.com. It should still be informal and authentically personal but also authoritative: this is material that carries Wales’ branding. We’re looking for something like the tone and register of a good feature in a broadsheet colour supplement such as G2.
We should generally use one of three voices in Wales.com features:
- Wales.?These are the features written in our own editorial voice. The tone of voice should be warm, informal and conversational as well as authoritative. These pieces are the clearest projection of the Wales brand, and writers should be careful to observe the agreed brand guidelines and values. The actual writer will not normally be identified or bylined, and there should be no personal intrusions into the copy. For example
- anecdotes or recollections – “it reminded me of a visit to Portmeirion...”;
- subjective judgments that are clearly the writer’s own – “it’s the best album by a Welsh artist in 20 years...”;
- first-person pronouns except for “we” in the sense of “people in Wales”).
- Interviewee.?In these features, the person featured will be left to tell the story. Depending on strand and format, the voice of the interviewer will be inobtrusive or wholly absent.
- Guest writer/contributor.?These are features credited to someone we have chosen for their knowledge, first-hand expertise or life experience. They may be written by the guest contributor, or ghost-written on their behalf by a journalist. In all cases, the authorial voice will be identified at the start of the article with a short description of who they are and what they’ve done in or for Wales.?
There should be a balance of features in the Wales and third party voice. The Wales voice allows us to provide a neutral view from Wales. Bringing in other voices?enables us to deploy specialist knowledge as required, or provide more subjective personal thinking and different perspectives of Wales, allowing us to “show, not tell”.
Here are some points of guidance on the appropriate use of the three voices:
- When using the Wales voice, don’t be afraid to “own” our statements. Even though we are writing impersonally, we can sometimes use “our” and “we” as well as the third person when speaking of Wales. So in place of “Wales has many castles...”, we can say “In Wales, we have many castles...” if it's more appropriate to the context.
- Let guest writers’ and interviewees’ personality shine through. Personal anecdotes,?localisations and Welsh language regional differences are to be welcomed. We shouldn’t seek to bleach their tone of voice in the edit so that it becomes too corporate-sounding but if required items should be clarified.
- However, guest contributions must be accurate.?Although we can allow other contributors a large degree of latitude when it comes to tone, we should still ensure that they are factually sound. We should also ensure that we don’t let through material that pulls against our core objectives, or reflects poorly on Wales.
Wales.com Target Audience
Wales.com is primarily for an audience that isn’t familiar with Wales, or may never even have heard of it. It’s someone from France watching Gareth Bale score a goal who Googles where he’s from; it’s someone in Spain whose teenager is expressing an interest in university overseas: it’s someone looking to expand their business overseas;?it’s someone from the US who has Welsh ancestry and is interested; it’s a child doing a school project.
Language variant sites of Wales.com
For the international audience of Wales.com English may not be their first language. Use of?unnecessary abbreviations, colloquialisms, irony, alliteration, alliteration and plays on words in titles, description and body copy can be completely missed, or misinterpreted, so should be avoided or kept to a minimum in content written in English for Wales.com.
There are six?language versions of the UK English Wales.com site - US English, Welsh, French, German, Spanish and a limited amount of content on the Japanese version of the site.
Articles can be localised in the translation process to better suit the in-market audience but it's worth considering if this risks losing the meaning/emphasis you are trying to convey. Could the original just be clearer?
Some articles may need to be written?differently for the Welsh language version of the site - it wouldn't be appropriate to translate the English article about the Welsh language, or the meanings of Welsh place names into Welsh for a Welsh user. Content may need to be modified for the American market - for example, use of words such as fall instead of autumn.
Visit Wales is the national tourism marketing team for Wales. Our main aim is to encourage people to come on holiday here, because Wales is amazing! We also want to promote the country on the national and international stage.
Visitors spend around ￡14 million a day while in Wales, amounting to around ￡5.1 billion a year. Visit Wales is responsible for formulating tourism policy, improving the quality of the visitor experience in Wales and marketing Wales within the UK and internationally. The ambition of the Welsh Government’s tourism strategy for Wales is to grow tourism earnings in Wales by 10 per cent by 2020.
To help achieve that goal, Visit Wales has a number of different channels and communities, which we use to share content and engage our followers in conversation.
It is important that our content celebrates the best of today’s Wales, complements our country’s rich history, beauty and cultural distinctiveness and creatively tells the story of the varied cast of characters that live here.
Visit Wales Tone of voice
Visit Wales is the ‘younger site’ – the sibling, or friend connecting with the user to recommend Wales on a personal level. The tone of voice is therefore more informal than Wales.com. We’re human, talking to other humans and giving friendly advice, not a corporation shouting into the void.
Visit Wales is:
Our voice is made up of many voices and we are proud of our illustrious history. We’re not living in the past, but we are proud of it. We’re always optimistic and looking forward – in Wales, people from all different walks of life make interesting things happen. We’ve got a lot to be proud of – beautiful countryside, coastline, friendly cities that people fall in love with – but we’re not boastful. We’re confident, not shouty. It’s not in our nature.
This mix of entrepreneurial, can-do spirit and quiet confidence defines our writing. It’s positive and welcoming, just like Wales.?
We let our history, landscape and culture shine through in our writing. They speak for themselves. To write for Wales, think about the things that makes our country great.
Language is a powerful tool. And we have two.?Our language is part of our history and future. It’s a deeply rooted part of our story and culture that makes us stand out – so be proud of it, and don’t be afraid to use it.?It’s a great way of sparking curiosity, so weave in the odd word of Cymraeg into your prose, if it feels natural.
Defining Warm, Engaging, Inspiring
Warm:?Everyone is welcome here. No matter who you are or where you’re from, you’re invited to enjoy Wales with us. So when we write for Wales, it’s like we’re writing to a friend. Write simply and edit ruthlessly (more on editing later). We are honest and unpretentious in our approach; unmistakably Welsh, but out to inspire, delight and ultimately convert people into visiting tourists.
Engaging:?We’re excited about Wales, and we’re not afraid to show it. We’re overflowing with opportunity, and love getting people excited about everything we have to offer.
Use we, you and us, natural contractions (it’s and we’re) and the active voice (we’re building castles), not the passive (the castles are being built).
Mix up sentence length. Having longer, more contemplative sentences that build up tension and draw the reader in, alongside shorter ones makes the pace more varied. Less repetitive. More exciting.
Stand out to the online scanners. Break up text with eye-catching quotes and extracts, feature the essence of the article in these (with SEO value in mind, too). Your headlines and quotes can also boost searchability. Help us help Google by using the names of products and places in your titles and descriptions.
Enjoy telling stories – we have so many of them – our myths, our legends, our prospects.
Read your writing out loud. Do you want to keep listening? Keep it scannable for the mobile browsers (around 70 per cent of our monthly sessions) by offering pithy, short sentences with high-quality visuals.
Ask questions (Where do you want to go? What should we do next?) – start conversations with your content and create compelling and emotional connections.
Inspiring:?We’re smart, but not boastful. Confident, not arrogant. Our confidence inspires others. It’s understated, elegant, trusted.
Show what you know. Draw on your knowledge and experience as you write. When’s the best time to visit Snowdonia? What can you do there? What’s unique about Snowdonia – things that you can’t do in Cornwall or the Peak District?
Facts over fiction. If you make any claim, back it up. If we say we have the world’s oldest castles – make sure we do.
Keep your writing precise, specific and evocative.
Use adjectives like alive, distinctive, adventurous, pioneering, more than nice or good. But don’t over promise or be hyperbolic – people stop believing you.?We want your writing to feel authentic and original. Sometimes they creep in but please try to?avoid using any of the following tourism clichés!
- Picturesque / charming / quaint
- Friendly locals
- Hidden gems
- Off the beaten track
- Stepping back in time
- Land of contrasts
- Whatever you’re looking for you will find it in …
- Something for everyone
- From the … to the …
- It’s the best-kept secret
- And it doesn’t end there
- It’s not called the land of … for nothing
- Coastal splendour
- It’s a mixture of old and new / traditional and modern
- An experience not to be missed
- And if that’s not enough …
- Inspirational scenery
- You will not be disappointed
- Fun for all the family
- You will never be bored
- A unique blend
- The great outdoors
- Got a zest for life? You will find XXX here
- Live life at a slower pace
- Transport yourself to another time
- Another world is waiting
- In the lap of luxury
- Looking for XXX? Why not try XXX?
- X has got it all…
- The (San Tropez/Little Italy/Hollywood) of (Wales/North Wales/Aberystwyth)
Visit Wales Target Audience
Think about the person you’re writing for. What do they need to know? What do you want them to think, feel, and do?
Sometimes, it’s easy to think about who you’re writing for (A foreign student’s guide to living in Swansea/A twitcher’s guide to Mid Wales, etc). But with the more generic, resource-type articles, it’s worth having an idea of who you’re writing for.
To make this easier, Visit Wales has narrowed our campaign marketing down to the following personas. Don’t feel restricted to these, but bear in mind when coming up with ideas or writing copy.
Our target demographic segments for core UK/Ireland markets share a common attitude towards holiday-taking. We describe them in broad terms as Independent Explorers who:
- appreciate honesty and value authentic experiences and places
- shun the over-commercialised tourist honey pots
- are free minded, they do not follow the herd
- look for places that allow them to be themselves, that enrich them, that challenge them
- like to interact with a place, to meet its people and understand the local culture, to return refreshed and enriched
- get a real sense of achievement and satisfaction from planning and organising
- like to visit places that are comparatively undiscovered by tourists
The following Independent Explorer segments were identified for our 2019 marketing activity:
Scenic?Explorers (+45 years) – enjoy exploring a destination’s beautiful scenery in the mountains, along the coast or countryside – taking in nature, walking, incorporating heritage attractions and activities. They want to experience the outdoors ‘off the beaten track’, but also take in a bit of the country’s culture with a visit to a castle and a lunch in a local pub along the way.
Cultural Explorers (+45 years) – enjoy the scenic aspect of a destination, but want to combine this with a deeper experience of the destination’s cultural heritage, visiting castles, historic houses, gardens, museums, spas and interesting towns and cities. Main holidays are sightseeing and city breaks.
Pre-Family Explorers (18-35 years) – Active explorers / ’soft’ adventure enthusiasts. Couples or groups who enjoy the outdoors and physical activity (hiking, mountain biking, kayaking) and sightseeing on their holidays. They enjoy discovering new experiences and places to visit in the UK and try to go somewhere different on holiday every time. They are more likely to have taken a sightseeing, romantic break, spa, or festival holiday in the past compared to most of the segments, possibly because of a higher disposable income.
Active Family Explorers (33-55 years) – Visitors with children aged between 7-15 years who like beach and active holidays with sightseeing. They like to go somewhere different every holiday. They like to learn about the local way of life and about the culture and heritage of the places they visit. They are very active and like to do lots of things on holiday (in all weathers).
Appealing to emotional triggers
We try as much as possible to get our headlines and body copy to appeal to our market segment’s emotional triggers. Each piece of content can’t possibly (or shouldn’t try to) appeal to every segment: ‘Appeal to everyone and you’ll appeal to no-one.’ The following AIDA acronym can be useful for reference.
Interest?(Capture their attention by appealing to their market segment: ‘Unmissable photo opportunities for explorers along the Welsh coast’)
Desire?(Speak to their desires and triggers and highlight what’s on offer)
Action?(Whenever possible, get them to commit to the next step: ordering a brochure, sharing the article, looking for accommodation by listing our accommodation or attractions databases) – all without being overtly ‘salesy’.
Tone and style checklist
If you have to remember just five things about how to write for Wales, make it these:
- Show what you know about Wales. Our history, our industry, our opportunity.
- Write simply and warmly. We’re confident enough to cut the hyperbole and fluff and let our personality shine through.
- Read your writing out loud. If it doesn’t sound right, get that red pen out and try again.
- Show what you love about Wales. What makes it great? Then back it up.
- When writing in English, don’t be shy of weaving in a little Cymraeg, if it’s appropriate. It’s a great way of standing out in a busy world, and can really add to a story.
And finally ... KISS?(keep it short and simple)
One thing we really want to hit home is that we’re aiming for clear, concise, friendly prose. Make sure you edit – cut words you don’t need. We’re aiming for simplicity.
Keep it short. With an increasing number of users primarily accessing our content on mobile devices, it's important to consider scroll depth. Content longer than 600-800 plus images, creates a long page and?demands?a?longer attention span than users have, or are prepared to give while browsing on mobile devices.
Keep it simple. Half the UK has a reading age of 11-years-old or younger – and don’t forget, a lot of our English language content will be read by people internationally, and their first language might not be English. The simpler your text, the better (this means an average sentence length of around 12 words, but of course, you should mix this up a bit). Please try not to include too many complex clauses or super-long words.