Case studies; they’re ideal for PR and everyone loves them.
For a journalist, they are an illuminating way to add colour to an article with personal opinion and examples of a product in action. For the brand they show how the product or service works with the backing of a testimonial from a client. For the buyer, it is free PR.
However, the content of a case study can vary so much according to the availability of data and usage. A case study for publication in a magazine may require more and different information than a piece for a brand’s own website.
So what makes an ideal case study for a B2B journalist? We asked highly experienced editor and journalist Stuart Derrick what are the three most important and compelling elements he looks for in a good editorial case study to accompany a feature. Here are his views.
“They probably vary depending on the magazine – there may be particular requirements that a title has around issues such as topicality (eg no more than 6 months old), geography (UK only), requirement for an individual to be featured (first person), or direct client input (need to be interviewed). It’s probably worth bearing these in mind first.
“All other things being equal, I think the top three are:
– an interesting story – there’s a hook that makes it a bit different for whatever reason – creativity, an unusual aspect to the case study, a human interest angle etc. You don’t always get this, but if a case study is interesting in its own right, then that’s a plus.
– the stature of the brand. In marketing and B2B titles, this counts for a lot. A dull, big brand case study will probably get more interest from a title than a smaller, more interesting one. This counters the first point I realise, but mags like to give the impression that they have a connection to the brands that matter in their sector.
– results matter of course, but they are often hard to come by and can be hard to really make stack up – they’re rarely independent or audited. Brands and agencies are usually pretty tight about letting out information on how well a campaign has done. If it has done badly, you’ll probably never hear. So generally, stats only get presented if it’s a good news story. Treat them with caution.
Stuart adds; “I’d like to add an extra one to the list – images. If you want coverage, come prepared with visuals – good ones. There’s nothing more frustrating than having got a case study, done all the work on it and then been let down with unusable pictures – or to find out there are none at all.”