Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The White Paper Lives!


Development of a white paper as a communications vehicle may sound like a primitive, archaic tool in today’s digital age, wistfully proposed only by older, veteran PR types such as yours truly.
However, white papers remain extremely effective tactics for organizations to creatively convey a position or philosophy, or provide depth to a business problem or solution.
This is particularly true in B2B communications. For example, in a recent survey of business marketers, 84 percent said white papers were moderately to extremely influential in making final purchasing decisions.
Another indication of the interest in white papers: I was one of more than 200 executives attending a webinar last month on white paper lead generation conducted by The White Paper Company. One obvious takeaway – we now have even more distribution outlets for such think pieces, thanks to websites and other social media outlets.
What are some keys to ensure your white paper resonates with audience targets?
  • Educate. Be informative, enlighten, address issues that are new, surprising and/or intrigue the reader. Remain objective and cite credible, outside sources to prove message points
  • Provide specifics and depth. This is particularly critical when covering technical details or new technologies. The white paper offers the rare opportunity to deliver such vital information in a comprehensive manner.
  • Capture attention with clever title. Don’t underestimate the value of a catchy headline, one that lures the reader and highlights the issue. Also, consider adding an executive summary before copy begins to further pique interest…and to make it easier for executives to decide if they should forward the paper to others.
  • Enlist skilled writers. The white paper requires prose significantly different and more sophisticated than copy written for news releases, brochures and ads. Be sure the writer is top-notch.
LCWA client Fabricators & Manufacturers Association (FMA) is a huge white paper advocate. Two recent white papers we’ve written for FMA include “America’s Most Wanted: Skilled Workers," and “The Manufacturing Predicament: Sector Primed to Surge, Yet Skilled Labor Shortage an Obstacle.” Hopefully, those titles will spark enough attention for some of you to request copies here!

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