Photo by M.C. Lester

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 "research profile" 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!

More examples of successful content

We used the C-P-A to guide us through these projects:

  • White-Paper: Pelivc Imaging
    Here, we created a whitepaper making the case for pelvic imaging and new tools for making it easier.
  • Case Study: Lessons from Foreign Financial Markets
    We started with a 49-page research paper and digested it into a 1,000-word profile.
  • Article: Epigenetics: Unlocking Clues to Cancer
    To create this cover story for a supporter/patient newsletter, we interviewed several researchers to highlight their work and establish the value of epigenetics research.

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.

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Credit for the Content-Purpose-Audience strategy goes to my talented husband, Steve Peha. © 1995-2016 Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. Used by permission.