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White Paper World 25, July 12, 2023

  • AI survey book giveaway: We have another winner!
  • Quick tip: Just flip it!
  • This just in: Best practices for prompting AI
  • More from me: New interview, new podcast

AI survey book giveaway: We have another winner, this time an AI Enthusiast!

Colm O’Regan is a former scientist who’s worked in labs in four countries, now a B2B SEO expert and white paper writer based in Sheffield, UK.

Colm started writing marketing content for scientific companies in 2015.

Colm O'Regan

Colm O’Regan, B2B SEO expert and white paper writer

White papers were always his favorite projects.

“The reason I liked white papers so much was because they resembled the reports I used to write as a scientist, but with more of a persuasive marketing tone,” he says.

These days, he mainly does SEO content like articles and blog posts for general B2B tech firms.

“But every now and then a white paper project comes my way, and it’s usually too good to pass up.”


On the survey, Colm scored 65% AI Enthusiast and 35% AI Pragmatist.

“I think AI writes better than most scientists and technical people. I look back at the writing I did as a scientist and cringe at what I see,” he says.

“But ChatGPT can’t write something in a single click, whether it’s for science or marketing. I find that multiple detailed prompts are needed, and I still go through the draft and do a lot of editing.”

“In fact, the more technical and specific a niche, the more you need a human writer to create the content.

“ChatGPT often can’t write material on very technical topics, since it doesn’t have the information at hand. This is especially true when you write about a new technology a company has just released.”

For his prize, Colm picked the hardcover Words Like Loaded Pistols: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama… the book that first got me interested in rhetoric.

You can find out more about Colm on LinkedIn, where he consistently posts great tips and articles. Continued success, Colm!


Take survey button

You can still take the AI survey, get career advice, and win a book!

More than 200 writers have taken my AI survey so far.

Can you help me double that?

Ultimately, I’d like to get to 500, then do some analysis and report on the findings.

So if you haven’t already taken that 2-minute survey, please do it right now.

Find out whether you’re an AI Enthusiast, AI Resister, or AI Pragmatist. Plus, you’ll get a tailored career assessment offering suggestions on what types of writing you should do, advice for different career phases, writing tips, and resources chosen for your type.

Here’s that link again… and please pass that on to your writing buddies:

For every issue of this newsletter, I draw another winner who filled out the survey. There are still lots of books to win, including:

  • signed copy of Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes, 2nd edition
  • hardcover copy of Mike Stelzner’s classic Writing White Papers
  • signed copies of my book White Papers For Dummies

Take the survey, get career advice, and win a book! That’s a win-win-win!


photo of server interior with three callouts

Quick tip: Just flip it!

So you’re interviewing a salesperson and all they can talk about is their great new “solution.”

But you want to talk about the problems their customers have.

You need to understand why anyone needs the new product.

Here’s a simple way to reframe that conversation: Flip it!

  • Flip each positive into a negative
  • Flip every benefit into a cost
  • Flip each feature into the problem it solves

Let’s say the product is a new line of servers for big data centers.

And the salesperson is on about liquid cooling, embedded security, and modular components.

You can take each new feature and flip it from a positive to a negative.

Feature #1: Liquid cooling

liquid-cooled serverWhat’s the opposite of cool? Hot!

Everyone knows data center servers generate a ton of heat. And that means huge AC bills and pressure from managers to cut costs.

Grumpy employees. Premature stress on components. Servers that fail before they should. More cost and effort to replace hardware.

Now you can ask the salesperson to tell you about those things. They may have some great customer stories to tell you.

Feature #2: Embedded security

embedded security in server

If you don’t know what something means, ask.

“Well,” says the sales exec, “this new line offers secure booting, 1024-bit encryption, and on-the-fly firmware validation.”

And what’s the opposite of “secure”?

Vulnerable. Unprotected. Compromised. Exploited.

That’s the problem. No IT person wants their system to succumb to a cyber-attack.

So now you can start delving into the hopes and fear of every IT manager that their system won’t be breached.

Feature #3: Modular components

modular components in serverWhat does that mean?

The salesperson says the server is built as modules you can remove and replace, without even taking the rest of the unit out of the rack.

You can replace just the CPU, memory, I/O ports, or power supply.

And what’s the opposite of modular?

Monolithic. Integrated. All-in-one.

In old-fashioned monolithic servers, when one component burns out, the whole unit is trash.

That means more downtime, more effort, more e-waste, and more costs.

Now you can ask the salesperson about all those things.

See how flipping works?

Even if you have nothing to work with but a datasheet on a new product, you can flip every feature into its opposite.

Then you can start to imagine the problems plaguing your target-audience.


abstract background with warm colors to suggest prompting AI

This just in: Best practices for prompting AI

OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, recently released a helpful guide on how to give more effective prompts to AI.

If you are using AI today, I highly recommend you check it out here:

I’ve been testing this document’s instruction, and I like it. I believe this can be helpful as a crash course in prompting.

There are no silly hacks promising to turn you into a prompting wizard, like you see on TikTok or YouTube.

Instead, it’s sensible advice you can apply the very next time you prompt.

The guide has six main strategies:

  • Write clear instructions
  • Provide reference text
  • Split complex tasks into simpler subtasks
  • Give GPTs time to “think”
  • Use external tools
  • Test changes systematically

Under each strategy, there are several tactics.

Note that these are designed to work with the ChatGPT API, so some of them include programming notation.

I find it’s relatively easy to read around those parts and still get some excellent ideas about prompting.


More from me: new interview, new podcast


Interview with me in Barefoot Writer


There’s an interview with me in the June issue of Barefoot Writer from AWAI.

You can hear about my life and what I believe writers can offer clients today.

Plus, my featured essay on what makes a good story and how to use story elements in case studies and white papers.

Thanks to Mindy McHorse, the long-time Executive Editor, for making such a great magazine for writers.

You can download that whole issue here.



High-income business writing podcast 323 with GG

You can also hear an intriguing conversation between Ed Gandia and I on his popular podcast High-Income Business Writing.

We use the image of rising floodwaters to explore the effects AI is having on the B2B writing business. Head for higher ground, and then take a listen!

I was actually Ed’s very first guest way back on Episode #2 and he’s now up to 323 episodes! Way to go, Ed!

Listen to that podcast here, or wherever you get your podcasts.


That’s all for this issue

If you’re on vacation now or soon, have a happy time!

I’m on vacation myself this month, but I’ll keep these newsletters coming.

You can see all the earlier issues of White Paper World here:

And to see every future issue, make sure to subscribe here:

Gordon Graham
That White Paper Guy

P.S. Remember to take the survey on AI for a chance to win a free book!!


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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