By Tedd Campbell
Debating whether or not to tag your white paper with a byline? Here are some points to consider before making the call.
A white paper typically represents an organization and not an individual, so inclusion of a byline must be justified from a marketing point of view. In other words, a byline should either help to achieve a marketing objective or be an integral part of the marketing message itself.
When you include “By John Smith” on the title page, you’re telling readers that it’s important for them to know that this white paper is the brainchild of the mighty JS. But is that the message you want to send? Assuming that your organization owns all rights to its white papers (the norm), you have no obligation, legal or otherwise, to identify the creators.
However, you can use bylines—coupled with short, punchy bios—to promote the rock stars in your organization. If you want to increase demand for one of your experts as a consultant, speaker, or media resource, you can include a byline to bolster her credibility and get her name out there.
Be selective, though, because creating a star can backfire if your expert jumps ship and joins your top competitor. Of course, if your expert already has a very good reputation, then adding a byline can instantly make your white paper more credible to prospective customers.
But—and this is a big but—keep in mind that subject matter experts are rarely expert writers, so don’t expect them to write high-quality white papers themselves. Does this complicate your byline decision? No, actually it simplifies everything.
Subject matter experts—regardless of their writing skills—can author a paper just by sitting for interviews, providing notes, recommending relevant documents, and giving feedback on each draft to the professional writer who’s leading the project. In this scenario, everyone wins: you keep your high-priced experts doing what they do best, they get credit for their ideas in the byline, and your organization benefits from topnotch marketing collateral.
So, by all means, add a byline if you think it will give you more bang for your marketing buck. But when in doubt, leave it out, and release the white paper under your brand alone.
Tedd is the founder and principal writer at C Worthy White Papers Inc. C Worthy develops world-class white papers for B2B technology companies and service firms that want to enhance their credibility, generate more sales leads, and serve their customers better.
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