How to Use Social and Traditional Media to Promote Your White Paper

[ Editor’s Note: The first article in this two-part series appeared in our January 18 edition.]

Ned Barnett, Marketing & PR Fellow, American Hospital Association

Using white papers as promotion tools is all about using someone else’s rigorous academic, medical or scientific research to help make a case for your client’s technology-based products or services.

Creating a white paper is the first essential step. On its own, though, a white paper will do little to help promote a brand, its product or service. The white paper must exist where people will find it; its existence has to be made public before media or other potential targets will uncover it.

There are several steps involved: Publish the white paper; promote it on social media; promote it with the news media; and directly promote it.

Publishing: While the white papers referenced in Part One lived on the client’s website, they were able to do that because the named author—an adjunct professor and published author—added credibility and gave the appearance of a third-party source. In other cases, it may make more sense to publish the white paper on a stand-alone website or blog-site, with links back to the brand’s website.

I’ve seen both used with significant success. Generally, the choice of publishing format was based on the brand’s needs and status in the marketplace. Some prefer a white paper that appears totally divorced from the brand; others prefer credit for white papers.

Promoting the White Paper

Initial Promotion: Two approaches work. It’s best when both are used, complementing one another. These involve promotion on social media, and via the news media.

Social Media Promotion: There are several approaches to promoting a white paper on social media.

  • Optimize the white paper’s SEO value, especially if it’s posted to a WordPress -driven website or a free-standing blog site such as Blogger.
  • Directly promote the link to the white paper on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks as well as on the brand’s social pages. This involves a sizzle pitch and a link.
  • Indirectly promote it by writing and publishing blogs based on (and linked back to) the white paper. This has the benefit of explaining the conclusions in a more conversational fashion and at shorter length. A good white paper can provide information that can be transformed into three to ten blogs, each with a different focus but all related.
  • Indirectly promote the white paper by recording and posting vlogs based on (and linked back to) the white paper. This enhances access among those who prefer to watch and listen, rather than read. Again, three to ten vlogs can result.

News Media Promotion: When reaching out to the news media, once again, there are two approaches that work, and again, these work best when both are used, complementing one another. First, send out a press advisory with an attached press release to your targeted media list. I find two paragraphs of sizzle above the sig-file, with the full press release included below the sig-file, generates the best results.

Then, publish that press release via one of the news media distribution services. There are dozens of such services. In each case, you’re balancing cost vs. reach and impact; all of the strong ones have networks of dozens to hundreds of news aggregator websites that contractually publish all the press releases they’re provided by the distribution service. In addition, some focus on publicly-traded companies—ideal for white papers that are targeting potential investors. Other distribution services focus on topically or geographically related distributions. Choose the distribution service that best works with your brand’s market space and message.

Direct Promotion: This is for brands with strong email contact lists, targeting their own clients and prospects, as well as decision makers and decision influencers. Such direct promotion can be used to push the white paper link, as well as to push links to each of the blogs and video blogs. This kind of outreach also can distribute links to favorable press coverage about, or based on, the white paper.

Follow-On Promotion: All of the social media and direct-promotion approaches noted above should be used to promote media and social-media coverage that leads back to the white paper. If, for instance, the white paper is covered in a trade publication, or cited in a well-read blog, this fact should be aggressively promoted on social media.

Going a step further, if the white paper is picked up by a major mainstream media outlet, this often is worth additional press outreach. For example, when a start-up website landed favorable coverage in Newsweek —being named as one of the top five healthcare sites on the Internet (and the only one of the five focusing on natural and alternative healthcare)—a press release announcing this led to dozens of favorable articles published, each citing the Newsweek recognition.

Conclusion: To take your white paper to the next level, or the next several levels, maximize social media promotion, direct promotion and news media promotion efforts. The goal is to maximize the opportunity for prospects, or others for whom this information is going to be positively influential, to find the white paper, and to do so in a favorable context.


 This article originally appeared in the February 8, 2016 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.