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EPA Communications Stylebook: Basic Checklist for Product Development

Last revised 2009

1. Develop Your Concept

Develop your communications product concept. Consult with your office's communications staff, your Product Review Officer and OPA. Early consultation leads to a better product every time.

  • Questions to consider: What are you trying to communicate? What are you trying to get your audience to do? Identify your top messages. Through what means will you communicate your message and get people to take action? The Web? A podcast? A brochure? A promotional item?
  • Determine if similar EPA products already exist and can simply be improved upon. For example, if your product is intended for teachers or students, check the Environmental Education Resource Center on the EPA Intranet.

View suggestions and helpful hints to help you avoid mistakes frequently corrected during product review.

2. Identify Your Audience

Determine the audience you wish to reach.

  • Are you targeting scientists, businesses, mothers, gas station owners or the general public? Your product should suit your target audience.
  • How prepared is your audience to use your information? What do they need to learn in order to use the information effectively? What do they already understand?

Learn more about structuring your communications for your audiences.

3. Develop a Distribution Plan

Develop a distribution plan that will best get your product to your target audience.

Distribution can be more complex and expensive than expected depending on the type of product you selected. For example, a multi-page full color brochure mailed to multiple stakeholders will be more costly than a product intended for the Web.

Find out more about distributing different types of communication materials

4. Get a Cost Estimate

Get approval from your manager and obtain funding for the development of the product, printing or production, and for distribution. Consult with your manager and Contracting Officer/Contracting Officer's Representative if your product needs to be created by a contractor. Develop a cost estimate and get approval from your manager.

5. Concept Product Review

Continue working with your communications staff and Product Review Officer to enter your concept description into PROTRAC. You must have OPA approval before proceeding further and/or incurring product development costs.

View a full explanation of the Product Review system

6. Use the Stylebook

Design and develop your communications product using the EPA Communications Product Standards Stylebook and related guides.

View Appendix A: Bibliography and Sources for this Manual

7. Obtain a Publication Number

Contact the National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP) for a product number  to identify the originating office, the type of product, such as fact sheet or booklet, the date of publication and other factors.

Learn more about processes and forms for print publishing

8. Draft Product Review

Enter your final product into the PROTRAC for feedback. You must obtain OPA approval prior to moving forward on production or publication.

View a full explanation of the Product Review system

9. Publish

This step will vary depending on your communications medium. For a Web product, consult your Web team member and your Product Review Officer. For audiovisual products, you will likely shoot your video or record your audio file at this time.

For print products, complete a printing request on EPA Form 2200-9 (available electronically on WebForms) Work with the HQ or regional EPA printing offices where you will receive professional assistance to determine the best printing practices and options for your product.

  • Tip: If you are planning a direct distribution from the printer to regional offices or other addresses, include a listing of names and complete addresses and the number of copies going to each location.

More information on this topic is available in the Graphics Guide part of this Stylebook