Why Bother? White Papers and the Importance of a Good Follow Through.

As marketing and PR professionals in the human resource industry we all know (I hope) the important role that content (e.g., white papers) plays in terms of your web site SEO and generating sales leads. If you don't, download our new and updated eBook titled "A Three-Step Guide to Achieve Increased Publicity, Web Site Traffic, Improved SEO – and More HR Sales Leads" where we discuss the role of content in SEO and lead acquisition. Download it and share it - there is no registration required and no form to fill out. Just grab the PDF and enjoy.

But going to the trouble of writing a white paper and then casually announcing it with a single press release is like driving to the Grand Canyon and never getting out of your car to enjoy the surroundings.

Why bother?

This morning I was helping an HRmarketer customer create their Profile in our new HR Community. One of the cool features of our new HR Community is suppliers may create a company "Profile" with all sorts of information including links to their content that gets incorporated into our new HR White Papers database to be seen by thousands of HR decision makers - and syndicated to other online portals. When I went to the company's web site, I see a message on their home page announcing their new white paper (which was published in February 2008). So I click it and get to a page that has nothing to do with the white paper. In fact, after spending 5 minutes on their site I can't even find the white paper.

How long has this been broken? How many leads were lost because of this? Why didn't anyone at the company notice this?

So I go to Google and search for their white paper thinking I'll find a link to it.


I see this a lot. Companies have good intentions but they don't follow through and don't pay attention to the details. There are examples of this everywhere. The company that has a Press Release or Media page and the last press release was in 2007. The company that advertises a monthly eNewsletter and the last one was January of 2008. The company that attends a trade show with one booth rep and does no pre-show promotion.

If you don't have the discipline, resources or processes to execute your marketing and PR month-to-month then why bother? You are just throwing money away.

This is especially the case with white papers. It takes too much time and money to create the content to not fully leverage it. Here is a checklist that I would suggest using for your white papers or similar content (re-published and updated from a 2004 Blog posting on the subject):

  1. In the white paper (at the end) place information about your company and have your company name and URL as a footer on every page of the white paper. And do not make the white paper promotional.
  2. Place the white paper on your website for free download. Link to it from the welcome page and other highly visible places (like a sidebar throughout the site).
  3. On the Landing Page, place a summary of the white paper so search engine spiders/crawlers can find and index the page. Make sure the title and meta tags reflect your keywords.
  4. Require the bare minimum of contact information such as Name, Company and email on your registration form.
  5. Announce the white paper in at least two press releases. One press release (or pitch) - we call these "traditional" press releases - is sent to appropriate journalists and provides a summary of the white paper and wy it is newsworrthy. If you want to share the white paper with the media do not attach it to your email but link to it - and do not require them to fill out any forms to download it. You will then want to send at least one search-optimized press release directly to the Internet with links to your landing page for download. This release provides a sneak preview and compelling facts/trends/statistics to entice people to download the white paper.
  6. Place a copy of this press release on your own web site with links to your white paper landing page. If you have a newsletter, mention the white paper in the next issue. If you have a blog, blog about it.
  7. Send the white paper to a few key bloggers in your industry. You should personalize these emails and make sure to explain to the blogger why you are sending the white paper to them and how it may be of interest to his/her readers. Again, do not attach it to your email but link to it - and do not require them to fill out any forms to download it.
  8. Send a direct email to your house list announcing the availability of the white paper with a link to the landing page. I suggest you also rent a targeted opt-in list of HR decision makers (at least 5,000 - will cost you between $0.20 - $0.50 per email) and send the direct email to them as well. If you do not have a house list, rent a larger list of 10,000 or more.
  9. Recycle and revise the white paper into a 800 -1,000 word byline article and submit/publish in an industry trade magazine that accepts byline articles. HRmarketer members can find out which trades accept byline articles by searching their Media Outlets database.
  10. Reload and repeat the above steps each quarter.
Lastly, you may consider syndicating the white paper through services like Capterra or Knowledgestorm. If you are an HRmarketer you can upload it to your HR Community Profile and get it in front of thousand of HR buyers and collect lead - at no charge.

Good luck.

Posted by Mark Willaman

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