A reader asks: “Should white papers have a named author? Or can it simply state a company name or department as author?”
This seemingly small issue has big ramifications so I’m sharing here.
My strong preference is that white papers, ebooks, and other such content should have an author rather than be published without an author's name. It humanizes your company. It serves as a way for interested people to connect, and it facilitates extending the expertise to other venues like speaking gigs.
It may be obvious, but the author of the white paper should be, well, its author! I’d rather see a real author of the white paper listed than to randomly put a senior executive’s name on it which is what some organizations do.
But what if there are several people collaborating on the paper? Yes, it can have multiple authors.
Or, you might choose one lead author. This should be the person who will interact with those who are interested in the topic, who is good at doing media interviews, and who speaks at conferences and events on the topic. When these things align, the author’s personal brand and the company’s brand align and both benefit.
A person’s bio is a better way of showcasing expertise than a bland company or department description (no author) or some random big shot’s name and bio slapped on like the CEO (unless, of course, the CEO actually wrote it).
The author’s biography, typically at the end of the white paper or ebook, should have links to social like a Twitter and LinkedIn so people can follow and connect.
And, importantly, an email address for the author in the bio means interested people will contact her and that can turn into a discussion that can lead to a sale.