Tag Archive for: white paper

Are you crediting your OECD data properly?

You can’t simply grab data for use in your white papers, articles, and blog posts. You may not have the right to use as much of the information as you like, as I’ve explained in “Legal danger for financial bloggers: Two misconceptions, three resources, one suggestion.” Assuming it’s okay to use the data, you need to give the proper credit for it. Some data providers ask for more than others, as I discovered when I looked at the website of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). OECD data is often cited in white papers of investment and wealth management firms.

In this post, I describe some steps you can take to use OECD data according to its guidelines. Please check directly with the organization if you have questions. They’re the authority on the use of their data.

1. Check to see if you need permission

Below is what I found on the OECD website about using its data:

You can copy, download or print content for your own use, and you can also include excerpts from OECD publications, databases and multimedia products in your own documents, presentations, blogs, websites and teaching materials, provided that suitable acknowledgment of OECD as source and copyright owner is given. You should cite the Title of the material, © OECD, publication year (if available) and page number or URL (uniform resource locator) as applicable.

All requests for commercial use and translation rights should be submitted to rights@oecd.org.

This description is vague enough that I wondered if you can use OECD data in a white paper without paying a fee. After all, white papers seems like commercial use to me. I found a pretty broad definition of commercial use on TheHelpful.com. My philosophy about using copyrighted data is “When in doubt, ask for permission.” I emailed the OECD to ask if it’s okay to use its data in a white paper with attribution.

2. Work within the OECD’s constraints

Here’s the part of the reply I received from an individual in the OECD’s rights area.

Thank you for your message. There are no objections concerning the reproduction of OECD data (values) to create your own graphs/tables/charts provided that suitable acknowledgment of OECD as source and copyright owner is given. The material should be cited as follows : Based on data from OECD, title of the dataset, title of the database, friendly url, date of access

It seems as if you are free to cite some data in your text and even to create your own graphs, tables, and charts using the OECD’s data. Make sure those exhibits are truly your own. You can’t simply reproduce OECD exhibits.

Make sure you give proper credit in your exhibits based on OECD data. I’m guessing that the OECD’s preferred citation, “Based on data from OECD, title of the dataset, title of the database, friendly url, date of access,” goes into more detail than many writers commonly provide. However, you probably should have those details available anyhow to keep your firm’s compliance professionals happy.

3. Contact the OECD if you seek to reproduce materials or make commercial use

Found a great OECD graph, chart, or document that you’d like to reproduce? Play it safe by  contacting the OECD for permission. Here’s what the OECD told me about rights requests.

Should you wish to use OECD data/reproduce OECD published material for commercial purposes, please send us more information about your intended use by completing the following form:

About the OECD material you want to reproduce:
Full title:
Publication date:
Internet address (if applicable):
Exact pages / charts / data to be reproduced:
Will you translate the material? If yes, into which language?

About you:
Full address:

About your work:
Number of pages*:
Planned publication date :
Publisher’s name, address:
Print Run*:
Public Price*:
If published online:
Number of subscribers*:
Price of the subscription*:

* even if approximate

Comments (if any):


Stay safe by following the rules when you cite other people’s data! Contact the OECD if you have any questions.

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Rethinking the traditional content process

John Refford’s tweets and posts about marketing technology caught my eye before I ever met him. I’m glad that Twitter connected us for some interesting conversations about the intersection between marketing, technology, and investments. At our last meeting, I thought, “I must ask John to guest-blog for me!” This post about content creation is the result.

Rethinking the Traditional Content Process
By John Refford

Just a few years ago the traditional content development process was really a “print” process, although it wasn’t called a “content development process,” but more likely “getting something up on the web.” Content producers slightly adapted their styles and processes and turned brochures into PDF documents placed on websites. These methods still exist today for some organizations (especially those not focused on e-commerce), but are in steep decline. However, a better process is emerging, as I’ll explain.

What’s Wrong With the Traditional Process?

The traditional content process, as shown in my diagram of “Content Creation – Old Way,” fails to deliver on several important measures. Let’s review four of them.

  1. It takes too long. Content is locked away inside your organization undergoing multiple revisions. And the longer it stays inside your organization, the more revisions are needed because the information has become stale.
  2. The information never gets customer-tested. Long content development cycles mean a lot of resources are sunk into one project. If you misread your target audience and the information does not resonate well with customers – that’s a large waste of resources.
  3. It tends to focus on one deliverable, such as a whitepaper, therefore missing numerous other communication vehicles such as video.
  4. Studies show fewer users are visiting corporate websites. If you’re not posting information in social media outlets, you’re not getting in front of your customers.

content creation - old way

QUIZ: Is My Organization’s Content Process Out Of Date?

Here’s a quiz that will help you to assess whether your content development process is keeping up with the times. Answer this question: How many of the statements below hold true for your organization?

  1. PDFs hold a large portion of content on my website
  2. Our social tactics include sharing links to PDFs and press releases
  3. The organization does not take advantage of social media outlets

If you answered “yes,” to one of these questions, then your process needs some work.

A Better Way to Create Content

Things have changed with the rise of the social technologies. Platforms originally used by individuals—such as YouTube, blogs, Twitter and Facebook—are now used by brands as part of their broader communication strategy. The range of options, strategies and tactics have made online brand marketing much more complex.

With the rise of social media marketing, traditional content development processes go from old-fashioned to antiquated. Let’s look at a more contemporary content development process.

content creation - new way

Given the wide array of options available, your content development process will undoubtedly be different than the image above. However, if you’re still developing content the old way, it’s time to rethink how you are creating content to support your brand objectives. The process in my diagram, “Content Creation – Better Way,” has four steps.

  1. Start with an idea. No change there from the old-fashioned approach.
  2. Validate the concepts of your ideas publicly. The value of sharing ideas early is that it gives organizations a chance to test them in the market before further developing them internally. Some vehicles for testing ideas include blog posts and discussion threads on social media sites like LinkedIn. This step provides feedback useful for fine-tuning a concept.
  3. Create multiple pieces of content that illustrate the concepts. Rather than a single deliverable, such as a whitepaper, create a series of pieces. This allows individuals to process the material several times in different formats. We know people learn differently; they learn by reading, seeing, hearing and doing. By providing different content formats you increase your audience’s ability to consume the information.
  4. Share the content socially. Sure you can share links to the content but you can also use the content to drive conversations. You might be in a position to allow your employees to share the content with their networks as well.

The Next Content Development Process?

Indeed, what does the future hold for content development? It remains to be seen but it will be shaped by today’s forces. Data will play a big part in content’s future. Consumers throw off tons of data from their online activities and as more devices come online (cars, appliances, offices, etc.), expect the amount of data collected to grow. This data will be analyzed in real-time and consumers will receive content that is highly contextual, personalized and provided just when they need it.

And what will become of traditional processes? In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Dana Rousmaniere predicts advertising will be replaced by new content processes by 2020 – that’s in less than seven years. You’d better start now.


John Refford writes about marketing technology on his blog, you can also follow him on twitter at @iamreff.

Blog post vs. white paper: How do you decide?

An Iranian watercolor struck me as a way to show the difference between a blog post topic and a white paper topic.

“A School Scene,” which you see in the photo above, is beautiful. But it has too much going on to be a blog post.

Blog posts should focus tightly on one topic. Like the painting section below, which shows three men sitting below a tree.

A white paper is the longest piece most advisors will write. Its length means it might be able to accommodate the entire painting.

Like a blog post, a white paper should focus on a single theme. However, it offers more opportunities for depth and diversions.

In a white paper, the painting section in the upper right-hand corner would dominate. You’d work in the other areas of the painting to the extent they support the dominant section’s theme. An area with a weak, yet useful connection might become a sidebar, isolated in a box so it wouldn’t disrupt the main argument’s flow.

Some of the decorative elements in this painting might be too much for a white paper. They might be appropriate for a scholarly article, fiction, or a full-length book.

If this analogy helped you, please comment

Sometimes pictures make it easier to understand concepts normally explained using words. Did these two pictures help you? Do you have an image that helps you write better? Please share.

If your firm needs help with writing or editing white papers, please contact me. To learn more about what makes for a great white paper, read “White paper marketing: Walk a fine line.”