Topic: Copywriting

What Is The Best Practice For Reviewing Whitepapers?

Posted by mcapponi on 250 Points
We write several white papers a year that contain data points to support our story. The product manager who is responsible for the area would like to update that data when the latest greatest information comes out (regardless of how it impacts the argument).

I'm looking for resources for a process/best-practice on updating/reviewing whitepapers. My team believes we should conduct a thoughtful review once a year and look at all of the data points vs. random updates.

Any advice/sample processes would be helpful.
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  • Posted by mgoodman on Accepted
    To some extent this will depend on your target audience, industry/segment and objectives for the whitepapers. On the surface it would seem that having more frequent updates would convey the idea that you are on top of all the latest news that impacts your business. An annual update seems more old-fashioned and looks like you are not fully aware of timely news that can impact the business.

    Without more information from you it's difficult to comment. There probably is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question.
  • Posted by mcapponi on Author
    Thanks for the quick response. We work in the financial services/retirement industry. The issue we are facing is that our whitepapers include data from several different source and all of those sources are not updated at the same time. So hypothetically, we could be updating the papers every month if the information changed.
  • Posted by mgoodman on Accepted
    Monthly updates would seem to be about right. It would show that you are on top of things and give you "news" to promote almost all the time.

    Is there some reason you would prefer to NOT keep all the whitepapers current?
  • Posted by Jay Hamilton-Roth on Accepted
    I'd suggest that if the new information isn't materially different (would not cause the story to change), then it's likely not worth making a big deal about it (more of a footnote).
  • Posted on Accepted
    Here are a few thoughts to share with your colleague, given my limited purview.

    1. If the data changes that quickly, the data point may not be strong enough to use in a WP. I'd look to longer-standing industry and external trends to support your story and make the asset more evergreen; if the validity of the white paper expires after a month (huge industry disruption notwithstanding), how good was it to begin with?

    2. Consider the medium. Blogs etc. to cite/analyze rapidly changing data points and annual trend/industry reports to tell a larger story (and set an expectation with readers re: the shelf life of the content). This can also help set internal expectations.

    3. Delivering on this PM's request is going to cause huge process inefficiencies and introduce human error, not to mention ruffle the collective feathers of the editorial/web/creative teams who have to deal with versioning nightmares.

    I suspect most sophisticated companies of your size edit WPs on a semi-annual or even annual cadence, but it's worth a quick audit of what they (and larger competitors) are doing to make your case. Even juggernauts don't update their stuff monthly, and they have huge teams. Most of all, write it down and get buy-in on the editorial calendar so you don't have to keep fighting this fight. Good luck!

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