Is Your Writer an Asset, or a Pain in the…

What are the five most annoying things your writer can do to you? Here’s a shortlist, happily unencumbered by research but underpinned by years of dealing with writers. Go dark. How about those writers who “run silent, run deep,” don’t return your calls or e-mail, and pop back onto radar when you least expect it? […]

A White (Paper) Elephant

One reader writes that a CPA hired him to write a white paper. Why would a CPA need a white paper? Isn’t that like writing an annual report for a hot dog vendor? Here’s the story: I did a feature story on my CPA for a neighborhood paper a couple of years ago and he […]

“You Want Research with that Paper?”

The last time you hired a writer for a white paper, did you have all of the information ready for her or not? Think about three scenarios before you contact – let alone hire – the writer: Ducks in a row You already have available all of the relevant material the writer will need. It […]

We Have the Writer. Now What?

“We want some marketing materials. How do we do this?” Let’s assume that you’ve hired the writer, or that he has hired you. What next? Target Reader The first thing we need to discuss with the writer is your target reader: Whose attention do you want to get, and what floats that person’s boat? Some […]

White Paper Projects That Don’t Go Well – Part I

Do you have any white paper projects in your files that didn’t go well? Mine fall into two categories, and I’ll post on the first one now. Don’t Go Well but Result in a Good White Paper These are like the basketball games in which you make mistakes, bad passes and poor shots, but you […]


Do you ever turn around and realize somebody has done an end-run on you? It’s not easy to make everybody happy when you’re in Marketing and public relations. Engineers, VPs, execs, and firebrands in Technical Support all want to publish content to make their lives easier. Some of them don’t really know what people in […]

Learn Not to Say “No”

Are you old enough to remember how Crosby, Stills and Nash made such a splash? Critics and other musicians of the time had trouble comparing them to anybody else on the music scene in 1968, and could only refer to them as products of the groups from which they’d come (The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and […]

Are You Making This a Complex Sale?

When you hire a writer, do you make it a “complex sale”? An example of a complex sale is the purchase of equipment for building a space shuttle. Candidates for your business need to be ready for a long sales cycle, multiple decision-makers, plenty of competition and lots of review cycles. You can drag out […]

“Let’s Have the Tech Writers Do It”

A chief technology officer and a VP of Engineering were talking about an upcoming product launch. Both agreed that the new features were a big leap forward, worthy of a white paper. “We’ll need a white paper to explain the advantages,” said one. “We need to get existing customers to upgrade, but they won’t do […]

Type or Dial? The Jobs Are in the Phone

“People like to buy, but they don’t like to be sold to.” I’ve come across this several times since hearing Renato Beninatto of Common Sense Advisory pronounce it at a localization conference several years ago. It’s an important piece of information for writers who approach me peddling their services. Web 2.0 pundits drone on about […]