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2022 White Paper Spec Challenge Winner

I just taught another session of the AWAI White Paper Mastery and Certification Program.

And I’m delighted to announce the winner of the $5K White Paper Spec Challenge.

Out of 72 papers submitted, the very best was done by Jennifer Koppelman.

Meet Jennifer Koppelman

Jennifer Koppelman
Originally from Illinois, Jennifer’s family moved near Phoenix when she was 9.

She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State and went on to train as a lawyer. But she never practiced.

Instead, she signed up with the U.S. Army and spent 7 years as a signals intelligence analyst.

During that time, she was deployed overseas to Bosnia and Afghanistan.


Next she worked in a similar role as an intelligence analyst for consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

That’s where Jennifer produced her first-ever white paper. She wrote it for a government audience “in that very formal G2G style, quite different from B2B.”

Since 2014, she’s worked in a bookstore, an apt job for a writer that I did myself some years ago.

And lately Jennifer has been finding her way into the writer’s life.

We hope this award provides her with a big boost along that path.

The challenges in that white paper program

In this intense 6-week program, participants learn all about the white paper format and the steps to create one: planning, research, writing, polishing, and handling comments.

And to apply these skills, the participants fill in some missing pieces in an actual white paper.

They write a title, executive summary, conclusions, call-to-action, and then research and write one entire section from scratch.

As a further challenge, participants had to match the conversational voice and governing metaphor aimed at a marketing person in a small B2B firm.

Many people rose to the challenge.

In fact, we had 72 projects submitted. Narrowing all those down to a single champion was not easy.

Jennifer Koppelman learning that she won the 2022 White Paper Spec Challenge Winner

Click to hear Jennifer’s reaction to the news that she won
the 2022 White Paper Spec Challenge

What we liked about Jennifer’s paper

“Jennifer really did everything right with her paper,” I said during our Zoom on May 25 to tell her the good news.

“And her paper scored 98% on our marking rubric.”

“Her white paper has empathy, strong analysis, a clean and uncluttered table, and nice transitions between sections.

“Most of all, she completely matched the original voice and used the governing metaphor tastefully.”

Jennifer’s crowning achievement was matching the chatty, informal voice of the original white paper aimed at a Millennial marketing person, along with the Big Idea that compared doing a white paper to going on an arduous hike.

“I will confess, matching that voice was the hardest part for me,” said Jennifer.

“This was probably my third iteration of the project. The first one was way too formal. In the second one, I felt like I went overboard. I just threw in all sorts of hiking words.

“And finally, I had a lightbulb moment when I decided to put in a table. That took care of most of the issues I was worried about,” she said.

“So I’m really pleased that you liked my final version so much.”

Many thanks to everyone who helped

Previous White Paper Spec Challenge Winner Kristen Stelzer was the head teaching assistant for the program.

Other TAs were previous Spec Challenge Winner Beth Tiller, author and artist Elizabeth Creith, and copywriter Gary Mull. 

Many thanks to the TAs and the AWAI for all the work sponsoring the program.

I think everyone who submits a project in a program like this is a big winner. Completing a white paper is a weighty assignment.

So, to all the participants who took the program, you now know more about white papers than 98% of the writers out there!

When will this program be repeated?

I generally teach this program once a year; this was the spring 2022 session.

I’ll let all my subscribers know when it comes around again. If you aren’t yet a subscriber, here’s your chance. 

About Gordon Graham

Worked on 320+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 60+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. Named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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  1. Cynthia Saarie on June 24, 2022 at 1:31 pm

    This was an exciting experience and I learned so much valuable information. Thank you for sharing how to bring it all together. I’ll share my Neapolitan sundae with you anytime!

  2. Angie Gallop on June 24, 2022 at 2:39 pm

    Anytime, Cynthia! LOL!

  3. Lee Maddus on June 25, 2022 at 7:33 pm

    Congratulations again to Jennifer. I am glad for her. She deserved it for her excellent work.
    Of course, congratulations to the other 12 or so mentioned, whose jobs did stand out.
    And thanks so much to TWPG, Gordon Graham, whose skillful art of teaching shone so brilliantly.


  4. Angie Gallop on June 28, 2022 at 9:27 am

    We’re walking a little taller around here. Thanks for your praise, Lee!

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