A lot of corporate communicators have to write case studies, white papers or digest highly-technical research for lay consumption. It's just about the only way to make the case for some products. It can be a challenge to take complicated information written mostly for other academics and researchers and make it valuable to practitioners. But it can be done!
Creating relevant content
We rely heavily on the Content-Purpose-Audience strategy© to frame the writing. First, I look over the original research and develop questions (which I list on the strategy sheet). Then I walk through the strategy with the author to outline the key elements of the piece (main idea, key details -- examples, evidence, explanations -- think, do). Finally, the author answers the questions -- in layman's terms. The resulting "outline" gives me a clear path to follow and solid content to work with.
Writing a better white paper
For example, we developed a white paper for UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School that digested three research papers on the aerotropolis into one easy-to-read document. Here's the C-P-A we started with, and here's the final piece.
What I like about this approach is that it enables the writer and the researcher to truly collaborate on the piece, reducing the need for time-consuming revisions and rewrites later. It also ensures that the final document addresses the needs of the audience -- which is the whole reason we do these things in the first place.
Next time you're tasked with creating this kind of research-based document, try the C-P-A. Not in a DYI frame of mind? Email me and we'll create a proposal for you.