With the rise of content marketing and the evolution of the online experience, many companies have started to wonder if white papers remain a strategic form of content. It’s a topic that’s hotly debated in the public relations industry today.
Some have declared the white paper dead, saying that more versatile mediums such as slide decks and infographics can convey the same messages in a more approachable, visual format. Others assert the white paper remains relevant and won’t be disappearing any time soon.
The great news is there’s actually a middle ground where we can all get along.
First and foremost, the white paper remains a helpful, strategic tool for most organizations. A well-written white paper allows executive leadership the opportunity to generate leads by tackling important topics in the context of emerging research, traditional mindsets and changing trends. In fact, white papers are extremely valuable to companies trying to raise their profiles in a target vertical or key market.
However, it’s important to realize that white papers are evolving outside the traditional format. This is simply because the online reading experience has radically evolved.
Today, more than 2/3 of the global online population visit and participate in social networks or blogs. This means a majority of online users are comfortable with, and even expect, information relayed in a concise, visual and personalized manner. So, the standard 20-page white paper with stilted graphs and unapproachable industry jargon is likely to miss its mark amongst this new online audience.
Incorporating visual elements while keeping copy to the point can transform an antiquated white paper into a dynamic piece of content for your online library. Many companies have taken this a step further by offering bundled content to accompany white paper downloads, such as related infographics and quick, “Tweetable” takeaways.
No matter what side of the debate you land on, it’s important to keep an open mind when evaluating what form of content will work best for your organization. Careful industry research can help determine what kind of content, such as e-books, webinars, slide decks or white papers, will resonate the most with your target audiences.
Where does your company land on the white paper debate?