When you’re writing a case study for a client or you’re commissioned to write a white paper — there are best practices — then, there are only attempts at shameless promotion of a biased idea. You’ll want readers to perceive the former.
To write with authority and credibility in the 21st century, it’s important to present conclusions after a structured and well-researched thesis sans the appearance of bias and using aggressive emotional verbiage. That means not pushing emotional buttons with inflammatory rhetoric.
Do your best to come across like a book written by Peter Drucker.
In this era of economic growth and political chaos, it seems like an opportune time to write a topical paper using acceptable standards and irrefutable logic.
To avoid the run of-the-mill syndrome in a white paper, here are the minimums in best practices:
1. Research by asking lots of open-ended questions. In this way, you’ll learn the whole story about which to write – such as options, challenges, results, benefits and negatives.
2. Capitalize on time. First, compose your headline – catchier, the better to pique reader interest. This will also help you to stay focused and relevant. Start writing as soon as possible while details are fresh. You’ll also want to be the first to chronicle the subject.
3. Include full documentation. Add enough details so the reader isn’t left with salient, unanswered questions.That, of course, means hard financial data that lead to efficiency and other results.
4. Use direct quotes. Your paper will be more persuasive with quotes and testimonials of experts and participants.
5. Illustrate with pictures and/or graphs. To maximize visual interest, pictures and graphs are helpful to paint vivid pictures in the minds of the reader.
6. Take the long view. Present a snapshot of the big picture – the question in its entirety. Avoid looking like a writer who can only see what’s at the end of your nose. Your paper should contain interesting, relevant examples – but broad enough with value to satisfy even the most-sophisticated reader.
7. Logically structure your case. Include three sections:
- The beginning to state the problem
- The middle with a discussion of the pros and cons leading to reasonable solutions
- The end summarizing in a conclusion
8. Length. White papers generally consist of 2500 words or more.
9. Proofread your paper. Check for logical arguments and conclusions. Review for errors in grammar and facts. Share with a trusted confidante for a devil’s advocate to challenge your advocacy.
10. Publish in a PDF format. PDFs are easily emailed, if you wish, and they result in less work for the reader so the person can fully appreciate and understand your thesis.
11. Capitalize on your work. Your instincts are important. Assuming the client agrees, target the right readers for your paper and highlight the key elements and values. Use key bullet points or the entire paper as part of sales pitches.
Publish it on your Web site, and be sure to use the right keywords to draw attention. Consider presenting your paper at conferences, or offer to make it available if attendees e-mail a request to you.
And, oh, yes, consider using a sophisticated approach in social media, writing a press release and blogging about it.
From the Coach’s Corner, here are related resources:
25 Best Practices for Better Business Writing — If you want to accelerate your career or turbo-charge your business, one of your priorities should be good communication. Good writing is necessary in a myriad of ways, including letters, advertising copy and presentations.
For a Bounce in Revenue, Try Strategic Press Releases — Ever wonder why some companies are always in the news or how they succeed on the Internet? It’s a good bet they have a good PR consultant or have mastered the art of writing press releases.
SEO and Other Strategic Tips for a No.1 Rated Blog — To own your blogging niche, you must understand the evolving process — important basics in search engine optimization (SEO) and other strategies. ips for a No.1 Rated Blog
“Most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do.”