White paper drafts should always be reviewed carefully before the finished white paper is produced and distributed. It’s normal for the writer of the white paper draft to review it to make sure it says what they want it to convey, but it’s a good idea to have several other sets of eyes review white paper drafts for reasons you may not have considered.
White paper drafts should be checked for typos
Few things can impair the effectiveness of white papers like typos. You might not think spelling errors and similar typos are a big deal, but they can have a significant effect on what the reader will think of your organization and what you’re offering. Typos and misspellings suggest your company is careless and imprecise, and most people shy away from companies that appear that way.
If your white paper drafts describe your “quality conrol program,” I’m going to assume it’s not a very good one. What some see as “unimportant” mistakes are the written equivalent of showing up to a meeting with a big glob of mustard on your shirt or food residue around your mouth. No matter how kind or talented you may be, humans react to visual impressions, and the impression such errors present is that you’re a slob.
White paper drafts may need an editor’s eyes
Why might it make sense to run your white paper draft past a professional editor? Many people think of editors as a group of grammar nazis, but a professional editor is really focused on making sure your words convey what you want to say as understandably as possible. They’re also great at spotting words choices or minor mistakes that create subtle changes in the meaning of your messages.
You may have seen the classic meme calling attention to the distinction between “Let’s eat, Grandma!” and “Let’s eat Grandma!” If that distinction isn’t clear to you, know that one suggests that Grandma is your dinner companion, while the other suggests she’s really the main course.
White paper drafts might need legal review
If your white paper drafts explore potentially sensitive subject matter, make implied promises about what your organization will do for the reader, or discuss your competitors’ products or services by name, it’s probably a good idea to run it by your legal department or outside attorney. Yes, a legal review will add time and possibly some cost to the development of your white paper, but it’s a much smaller price to pay than finding yourself at the center of an expensive lawsuit.
White paper drafts should be checked for branding consistency
It also pays to run your white paper drafts past your company’s marketing leadership, even if your drafts are highly technical and not intended for promotional uses. Why? First, everything an organization prepares for the outside world is effectively a marketing piece, because it will affect the reader’s perception of your organization and its value. Second, your white paper drafts should use language that’s consistent with how your organization prefers to present itself to the outside world. In addition to specific wording, that may include proper nomenclature for products and services.
Your company’s marketing team may not understand how the use of a flanged whizbit with a polished sleeve affects the reliability of your product in precision operations, but their review of your white paper drafts can identify language that’s inconsistent with your organization’s public image and voice. (Also, if the marketing team comes away from your draft with a good understanding of what you’re trying to say, it’s a sign your audience will do so.)
In simple terms, the more sets of eyes reviewing your white paper drafts, the less likely your white paper will fall short of your objectives. That improves your chances of success and makes you look smarter!