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

When a white paper project goes badly

Some white paper projects go well.

Others don’t go well, but you manage to get a good white paper out of them anyway.

And still others . . . well, the less said, the better.

White paper projects that don’t go well — and result in a bad white paper (or none at all)

These situations are frustrating for everybody, and it’s hard to control the resulting damage. Here are a few warning signs:

  • Wrong writer – Sometimes it’s a bad fit between your company and the writer you’ve hired. Naturally, you want a good writer who can write about a lot of different things. But you also want a good businessperson who can say, “I’m not the right person for this project. You’d better find somebody else.” Unfortunately, not all writers are good businesspeople. Maybe you made a bad pick, or maybe the writer was foisted on you by somebody higher up the chain of command. Cut your losses by either starting over with a new writer or limiting the scope of your white paper projects to the writer’s comfort zone. At least you’ll get usable content out of them. Otherwise, you end up with nothing salvageable.
  • Review loop gone astray – Ever have a draft go into a reviewer’s inbox and never come out? Say a few execs want to see the draft, so you send it to them but don’t get an answer. How many times do you want to pester them before giving up? Still, you don’t want to be responsible for publishing it without sign-off, so after a while you interpret the lack of response as tacit disapproval of the draft. If you can’t get a straight, timely answer from your reviewers, take your licks, pay the writer for work done to date, and move on. Maybe you can use some of the content in a different format.
  • The writer is driving – It’s not a good sign when the writer becomes the only force moving your white paper projects forward. You can pay writers to do that, but prepare yourself for disappointment. Few writers want to also be project managers, and even fewer of them can reach into your company and pester people for interviews, meetings or review comments. Very small companies may need to go this route, but larger ones rightfully pay marketing managers to run these projects.

Broken process

White paper projects like those founder because the process is not working well. Beyond the process of writing the paper comes publishing the paper, which can be a whole, other source of don’t-go-well results. Stay tuned for more about that and the reasons for it.

photo credit: U.S. Library of Congress


Author: John White

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a content marketing writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Content Marketing Writer.”