Writing Proposal Content for ReusePart 1: Getting Started • Understandingboilerplate • Fitting reuse into your process • Designing reusable content Neil Cobb, APMP Fellow
APMP warned me about boilerplate. How can something that seems so smart be so wrong?
OriginalDefinition—iron clad plates for building or repairing steam boilers. • NewspaperDefinition—”iron clad” column filler for newspapers that should be used “as is.” • ProposalDefinition— content that you can use over and over again without change for “unimportant” parts of a proposal. Remember boilerplate ?
Its source’s style is inconsistentwith your proposal’s style. • It is writtenfor a mass audience, while a proposal is for a specific audience. • It is written for a general purpose, while a proposal is for a unique opportunity. • Its details rarely align with your reader’s particular situation or preferences. • It usually aims to inform, and a proposal must also persuade and prove. Why does most boilerplate fail?
It can accidentally embedorperpetuateerrors. • It can easily becomeout-of-date. • Itfails to echoyour customer’s language. • It can diluteormisrepresent your message. • It might offer something you can’t deliver to a particular customer. • It can insultyour customer (and embarrass you) if discovered. What else can go wrong with boilerplate?
Reusable proposal content can give you a huge advantage. But how can you make the benefits outweigh the risks?
You work under constrictingtimeframes • You need to echo your company’s stories and messages in your proposal messages • You usually have insufficientresources to meet proposal demand • You rely on lotsofdifferenttypesof content from lotsofdifferentsources • All writers need agoodplace to start Why is reusable content essential for proposal writers?
Applying reusable content is a key step in proposal development. How does content reuse fit in your proposal process?
Strategize Produce → Plan → Write → • BoK Best Practices for Content Planning • BP1: Implement a systematicapproach for designing content. • BP2: Adaptthe approach to each proposal’s situation. • BP3: Build and manage a requirementsbaseline for each proposal. • BP4: Create a robust topical outline. • BP5: Annotate the outline to provide guidance to authors. • BP6: Develop detailedcontentplans for important sections. • BP7: Involve your writing team in content plancreation. • BP8: Review content plans before starting to write. • BP9: Integrate content plans into the proposal development plan. • BP10: Use content plans to monitorquality and progress. f-D Proposal Process How do you fit reuse into your content planning process? Pre-Proposal Proposal Development Post-Proposal BoK Content Planning Process Re-use Plan Reusable Content Repository Harvest Plan
You have to design content to make it reusable. How can you design or adapt content for easy and extensive reuse?
Because users and readers… • Know what they want (and that’s all) • Want to find it quickly (no wasted energy) • Are happy to jump to somewhere else if they need more • Aren’t happy if they have to slog through lots of stuff they don’t need to uncover what they do need • If they don’t find what they need, they’ll go elsewhere… But first, a brief digression… We should design our content to work like they work!
Modular TOPIC BASED Tagged Functional What term best describes reusable proposal content? Coherent Structured Singular Connected Small
Proposal ExecutiveSummary MODULARIt’s a self-contained component of a larger entity based on models. WorkStatement CurrentSituation Pricing Solution
Pain (1…n) Need (1…15) Adv 1a FUNCTIONALIt performs one role. Adv 1b Feature (1…n) Advantage (3x…n) Proof 1a Proofs (?) Benefit (15x n) Proof 1b
Proposal STRUCTUREDIt follows a repeatable pattern (and fits into one, too). ExecutiveSummary CompanyQualifications CompanyHistory
SINGULARIt is about one thing only. 1 THING • Easier to • Name • Use • Assemble • Maintain • Ignore
Back-ground Info Definition CONNECTEDIt is linked to supporting or related information. TOPIC Alternate Versions Examples FAQs Technical Specs
COHERENTIts structure, context, and style are clear and consistent. Direct Address Second and first person pronouns. Active Voice Human actors performing clear actions. Simple Sentences S-V-O structure. Single Audience Use appropriate terms consistently.
Tagging is one TALL order: • Must clearly indicate the topic’s single idea • Should relate to the way your users think and work • Has to identify the relationship of this topic to other topics • Must fit within a hierarchy based on semantic and functional relationships • Should help identify and carry context • Need to be useful in themselves (serve as headings, for instance) WHAT? TAGGEDIt is clearly and consistently labeled. WHERE? HOW? WHEN? WHO? WHY? WHATELSE? WHYNOT? WHAT’SNEXT? HOWMUCH?
Reusable content might look something like this. How might you mock up content with all these attributes?
How can you design a proposal topic? Module No. X.X • Associated Topics • Topic Link • Topic Link Module Headline Theme Statement Illustration Context Statement Topic Sentence ===================== =================================Comment=============================================================================================================================Point============================================================ • Supporting Links • Topic Headline • Topic Headline • Topic Headline Action Caption: ====================== Notes ============================ ==================================================================
Module within a Collection Related Topics Supporting Links Clear Content Label Serves a Function About One Thing Only What doesmodular content look like? Context Less than a Page Structured “Type” Copy
Part 2: Organizing Your Collection Coming up next… • Creating a content reuse process • Choosing an organizing principle • Building labels and a taxonomy