Something old, something new

How to make your white paper interestingAbout seven years ago, I introduced the notion of ‘writing white papers’ into the portfolio of a technical PR agency I was working for at the time. Up until then the agency in question had produced plenty of marketing collateral such as guides, brochures, newsletters and handbooks and even fully fledged academic reference works on behalf of its clients.

But the industry now wanted to call most of these things white papers for some reason. Once we started branding our guides as white papers, far more clients started buying them. It’s strange what borrowing a little political parlance can do for your sales figures!

However, cynical as I may be about the marketing industry’s constant need to call something old something new, I do recognise that it’s a good way to spread ideas.

Now that industry has come full circle, the term ‘white paper’ has become something of a cliché. It means ‘free .PDF that one downloads and doesn’t read’. So the task is to re-brand the white paper.

How about calling it an application guide, advisory notes, a buzzword guide, a comparison chart, a cost calculator, a pocket guide, an ROI calculator, a slide chart or standards and regulatory guidance? Even better, rather than just producing a plan old white paper, why not actually think about the best format for your information and prepare content in that format? You would be amazed at the power of giving people useful things that they actually need.

Helping people solve their problems is the currency of marketing and always has been. If you can do this without just calling ‘something old’ ‘something new’, then all the better.


Richard Stone

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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