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>My firm does a lot of marketing-oriented technical writing, mostly in the
>form of white papers. A white paper is a fairly extended briefing on a
>technical subject, usually intended for management and decision makers.
>The idea is to show that the company that published the paper is doing
>some leading-edge thinking on how to solve a technical problem with
Ah, yes -- white papers. How I love them! In many ways, they
are my favorite medium.
>You need to wear your marketing hat when you're writing one of these. But
>it's also true that the marketing value only materializes if people
>really want to read the paper. So it has to contain good, accurate,
Good, accurate, and useful -- but not balanced. NEVER balanced. But
they must give the IMPRESSION of balance, without causing any alarm
bells to ring in a suspicious, critical, informed, hype-intolerant
audience. The proper result of a white paper is that the reader
goes away feeling that the solution being pursued by the company
that wrote it is not only the best solution, it's the INEVITABLE
The appearance of impartiality, calmness, possibly the impression
of enthusiasm being kept firmly in check by a steel-eyed rationality,
a total lack of the usual marketing hype, augmented by a
refusal to use slick paper and fancy graphics -- these are the tools
of the white paper.
And you can't lie, and you can stretch the truth only a little. You
can omit some, and you can minimize some, and you can use a certain
amount of misdirection, but you can't lie at all. Anyway, by the
time you're done writing one of these things, you believe your own
position so strongly that you'd pass any lie-detector test, and will
probably need to be forcibly restrained from going out and buying
your client's stock.
White papers. . . I need to find an excuse to write another one.
Robert Plamondon * High-Tech Technical Writing
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (503) 453-5841
"I regret that I have but one * for my country." -- Nathan Hale