Case studies play an instrumental role in public relations and are highly desired. In fact we regularly approach our b2b, baby and consumer clients for examples of good case studies that can then be successfully placed in the media – whether it’s print, online or television.
In the b2b world case studies can be quite difficult to source (but not impossible!) for varying factors, whether it’s because clients can’t get sign off from their own customers, corporate policy or even not wanting to let the competition know what they are up to there are many barriers between the PR consultant and the b2b case study. However, there seems to be a lot more willingness and flexibility to provide case studies for consumer facing stories.
Often these make up part of a larger featured article within newspapers and magazines etc providing a clear and detailed insight into the ‘issue’, what the hurdles were and eventually how they were overcome.
Indeed, a good case study is worth its weight in gold and it is little wonder that both journalists and PRs are so desperate to get hold of them. But at what cost?
Earlier this year Fuel PR were caught out magnificently by using a staff member as a ‘real life’ case study for one of their own clients. Within the PR community the story was quickly dubbed ‘sweaty-gate’ and the Press Association, who originally sent the story out , were forced to apologies and ‘refund a number of national newspapers that used it’.
But that wasn’t the end of the whole debacle. Only this week Fuel PR were expelled from the PRCA and the company’s MD lost her fellowship. ‘The committee decided unanimously that Fuel PR was in clear breach of its professional standards and that the gravity of the reputational damage to the industry was so great that “termination of membership was the only option”, according to a PRCA statement.’
It seems a shame that the story went so far but these things do happen and some PR agencies will use friends, relatives or even staff members as examples in case studies to push forward their clients services, products or offerings. There is no difficulty in getting an ‘endorsement’ from someone that supposedly doesn’t have any links with the company whereas a total stranger, who is willing to go on record, admit the problem and how it was fixed is a lot harder to find.