I recently read an interesting blog post by Eric Lundbohm who asked that in the age of content marketing whether the white paper has outlived it’s usefulness.
Just so we’re clear, I refer to a white paper as a long form (typically 3-4,000 words) research-based text that examines a specific trend or industry issue. The white paper’s aim is to highlight a company’s expertise in a particular area, but without focusing on its products or services. It’s not overtly ‘salesy’, so has always been great PR content for the media.
Eric refers to short form communications, such as Twitter, Facebook, as providing marketers with a quick way of reaching target markets. So where does the 3,000 word white paper fit in? Does this mean that the white paper is dead? Absolutely not, but as with all content it does need to be used in context of a wider content strategy.
The white paper is still a great positioning and branding tool. We still regularly write them for clients but rather than using them once in the media or maybe even on the website we use them to generate a whole content package – one white paper can ‘feed’ numerous press articles, a series of blog posts, dozens of tweets and LinkedIn discussions – as well as being incorporated into SEO via landing pages or PPC advertising and driving eShot campaigns.
We also take them off the page – supporting them with video content to give a brief overview of the paper’s content to drive downloads and/or website visitors. And we still recommend that clients use them as sales tools at meetings and events.
With such a versatile piece of content available to B2B PR and marketers, we say long live the white paper!