Think Like a Journalist: What to Include in Your Proposals

Whether it’s a suggestion to change the hours your business is open, adopt a new policy regarding wearing perfume at work, or recommending a new product or service for your agency, a proposal is a recommendation to your organization to do something new or something differently than how it operates today.


Proposal Purposes: To Make a Recommendation

Simply put, proposals are recommendations or suggestions for a change.

Some changes are easy to handle. For example, if you need to leave work early for a dental appointment, you might send a simple email to your supervisor letting her know the situation (“I’m getting a root canal”), when it’s happening (“Thursday afternoon”). The proposal for the situation might be how work is handled in your absence (“If it’s alright with you, Tom has been sitting in on my meetings lately, and could easily manage my Thursday afternoon production meeting in my absence.”)

Other proposals might be more complex, reflecting the complicated nature of the situation, the risks involved, variety of options available or the magnitude of the impact to the organization.


Organizational Purposes for Proposals

Proposals can serve organizational purposes as well. They can:

  • Provide structure to a decision-making process
  • Slow process down to ensure good decisions are made
  • Instill formality to a process
  • Document the rationale and considerations behind a decision
  • Allow opportunity for input/feedback from interested stakeholders


What Information to Include?

Proposals can take many different forms, but at their core, they all have a few things in common. They all:

  • Identify the problem
  • Suggest a solution
  • Make recommendations/provide options for implementation


Answer the Reader’s Questions

When journalists write news stories, they use the 5 Ws and H to make sure they’ve included all the information the story needs. These are: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How.

You can use this same process to help ensure you have addressed all of the parts of the problem, solution and implementation.



  • Who will be affected by the proposal?
  • Who needs to be involved?


  • What is it you are suggesting?
  • What needs to be done?
  • What order do things need to be done?
  • What will the impacts/benefits be?


  • Where will this happen?


  • When will these changes happen


  • Why should we do this?


  • How will we implement this change?


Remember: When you write a proposal, make sure your content is clear and provides a persuasive reason that someone should agree with your idea. 


Want to learn more about writing better proposals? Check out our books (Amazon) and courses.


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