I recently worked on two very different white papers for two very different clients.
What's a white paper? According to Michael Stelzner, White Paper Expert, "A white paper is a persuasive document that usually describes problems and how to solve them. The white paper is a crossbreed of a magazine article and a brochure. It takes the objective and educational approach of an article and weaves in persuasive corporate messages typically found in brochures." (source: http://www.writingwhitepapers.com/resources.html, retrieved February 15, 2008)
White Paper #1 – What's a Wiki?
Client #1 is a technology, social media and e-business specialist and coach who works with business-to-business companies. In this case, her client was a company that specializes in helping corporations with their internal, corporate communications.
My client asked me to edit her white paper about social media for corporate communications. She'd already done an excellent job of pulling together a lot of complex, technological information. Her client had already given her some feedback about the tone of the piece, and I helped her make these revisions. As well, I read the paper as a "newbie" (which I AM, to several of these social media applications) and made sure the language was clear and free of jargon.
At the end of the paper, she illustrated 5 different social media applications by telling the stories (and you know I love stories!) of companies who use them. I helped her maintain consistency in the format of these stories by using the same headings and level of detail in each.
Working on this project, I got a glimpse into a brilliant mind, I learned a TON about a hot topic, and I provided my client with a valuable service so that she could put her attention on other things. I love what I do!
When I asked her about working with me on her white paper, my client said: "It was a relief to be able to turn this piece over to someone who I knew would do a good job. Many editors only know how to edit for clarity or grammar…but you know those things and you know how to edit for tone. I appreciated your capability and skill set on that project."
White Paper #2 – Fire Up Your Life!
Client #2 is actually a pair of clients, Lissa Bergin-Boles and Randy Boles, of True Callings. [Update December 9, 2012 – Lissa's new business is The Soul Map.]
Lissa and Randy asked me to edit and reshape their white paper, Fire Up Your Life. We talked through their ideas of what they wanted to include, they gave me a sample of a white paper they really like, and they sent along some writing they'd already put together.
Ok, to be honest, there was a LOT of writing to go through. The total number of words in the documents and our call notes? 4,846. The number of words in the white paper I turned back? 1,578. Phew!
Lissa and Randy are two very creative, very prolific, forward-thinkers. So whenever it's time to put an END to a piece of writing, they call on me. Because, left to their own devices, these two would never run out of ideas, words or steam (though they might run out of paper 😉
When I asked Lissa and Randy about working with me on Fire Up Your Life they had this to say: "Taking the best of our (many) thoughts and (many) ideas, and staying true to our voice, Linda knew what to keep and what to put aside, weaving everything together beautifully. She even welcomed – and made great use of – ‘sneak peek’ reader feedback. To put it simply, Linda has a gift for making the complex clear and the whole process enormously easier. We can’t sing her praises loudly enough."