White Paper Writing
Why I Really Like Writing Them
For my first blog post on this new website, I’m going to discuss a big project I completed earlier this year – a white paper for Influence Group’s Senior Living Innovation Forum (SLIF). Click here to download the free report.
The report, which offered a snapshot of the status quo, focused largely on the upcoming challenges and future trends in senior housing. Areas explored included healthcare and staffing needs, geographical trends, technology, high-end and middle markets, financing, dynamic new projects, and disruption from within and outside the industry.
The most compelling part of the report is its through line – the aging of the Baby Boom generation and how it positions this industry to (like its namesake), boom.
Summing up what we can expect to see in this industry in the coming decade, Robert Kramer, founder and strategic advisor at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care (NIC), painted an arduous but optimistic picture of the coming decade.
“[R]einventing the stagnant and dysfunctional aspects of senior living won’t happen overnight,” he emphasized. “However, thoughtful, creative risk-taking will gradually make senior housing communities more desirable places to live and work, appealing to a wider demographic of prospective residents and employees.”
Like most white papers, this project was a big undertaking that involved a fair amount of planning and research.
Interviewing Skills Come Into Play
Research aside, the lion’s share of effort put into this report went into interviewing the ten industry thought-leaders whose input provides the most useful and pertinent information presented.
Sourcing quotes isn’t easy work. It requires careful non-aggressive persistence, homework on your interviewee and their industry, timing, and a nose for where your questions may lead. In cases like this report where the subjects being interviewed are C-level executives with busy schedules, the task becomes the writing equivalent of a short order cook on a high wire. It’s here that my background in journalism and both the profit and non-profit business sectors pays off.
Balancing Research and Readability
As a medium, I really enjoy white papers. They’re a unique combination of persuasive sales copy and feature writing that mixes storytelling with nuanced analysis. And, unlike a lot of my colleagues who find writing them burdensome, I really enjoy the challenge of adding just the right amount of spice to projects that, when not handled properly, can favor facts and stats over readability.
Not only do white papers bring out my inner research nerd, but all the moving parts involved satisfy that part of me that loves putting puzzles together.
This particular white paper resonated with me on a personal level. As a tail-end Baby Boomer, learning about what is happening in senior living offered a rosier glimpse into a part of life that most people partially dread. The future will be here sooner than we all know it and, personally, it’s good to know what to expect.
Interested in learning more about senior living? Check out this piece on the wildly popular Latitude Margaritaville or this one on how modular homes are changing the face of retirement living.