How to Write a Case Study for PR
Jane Lee of Dexterity explains the steps required to produce a case study as part of your PR activities.
A case study is an excellent way to present your company in a positive light, both in the media and as marketing collateral. It describes how a customer’s business has benefitted from using your product (or service). And don’t just think of them as written documents, you can create an audio file (a podcast) or video interview. Here we’ll focus on the written approach.
Creating a good story
First contact a customer to see if they are happy to be profiled; explain the benefits, like free PR and back link opportunities. Check if the spokesperson is prepared to give press interviews by phone if required.
Remember that you want to entertain as well as educate the reader with the case study. Find a topical angle, or maybe combine a business issue with a human back story.
Writing the case study
A case study needs three basic elements:
the business challenge
and, most important, the benefits, preferably with statistical evidence of the return on investment.
Also, editors like the story to be focused on the customer and their issues, not strewn with constant mentions of the supplier. Keep it to one or two direct references.
If you feel confident to write it yourself, it’s a great way to get to know your customers. However, get someone else to proof-read and correct it, because you become blind to your own mistakes. But don’t take edits as criticism.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to write, then hire a freelance copywriter, a PR specialist or a journalist who knows your field. Ask colleagues for recommendations, but always request examples of previous work, to check you like their style.
Having chosen a writer, it’s important to give them a clear brief. Include the word count (typically 500 – 750 words), your deadline, marketing messages and benefits you want highlighted. And ensure that one revision is included in the fee, to cover any edits required. Then introduce the writer to your customer and let them arrange the interview.
Where to publish
Having produced your case study, you need to place it. Your target will be the publication most relevant to your customers and prospects, but check if the title actually takes case studies.
It’s slow, but best to approach one publication at a time as editors want “exclusive” stories. You can pitch the story to multiple media, but ensure you target different sectors using different angles.
Having identified the prime target, write a summary and email it to the editor. Check that there will be a link back to your website if the story is used. And note that if accepted, you may be asked to shorten the piece to suit the space available.
Finally, put the case study on your own website, and once published add the link to the page as well. You can also use the case in your customer newsletter and e-shots. And promote it on social networking sites too.
A case study is an invaluable part of the marketing armoury and every company needs at least one, and ideally several; each based in a different industry sector. I hope this article has given you the confidence to create your own, or at least to ensure you get a winning result if you commission a writer.
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