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Creating and managing a case study library

2 July 2012

Every communications professional knows the value of real-life stories to help get your message across, but with so many demands on your time you may find it difficult to manage them as well as you would like to. So how do you create a case study library that’s easy to keep on top of? Here are Amazon PR’s five top tips.

1. Get the right information first time
It’s worth investing time in thinking carefully about the information you need from your case studies. For example, it’s a good idea to get someone’s full address when you first speak to them, and not just the county or town they live in. Local media will usually want to know exactly where your case study is from. Ask your case studies the best time of day to call them. Journalists tend to want to speak to people during the working day and it saves time if you know whether people are available. Think about the key elements of their story that you need, and write those questions down.

2. Always ask for a photograph
The media will often want to see what a person looks like before they go ahead with an interview so always get an up-to-date photograph of your case study. It can just be a family snap but it will also help you to assess their suitability for the magazine or newspaper you want to pitch their story to.

3. Record the details in a way that meets your needs…
Design your case study records so you can select the right person quickly and easily. If you don’t have a database, create a standardised form that allows you to see the key information straight away. Summarise the main points of their story at the top of the document to save looking through their full notes. You might want to list words that relate specifically to them and the issues they can discuss. Include their consent status so you can easily see what they’re happy to do.

4. …and make sure you do it in the same way each time
Standardising information sounds a bit pedantic but it’s worth it. It means you always capture the details you need and allows you to scan them quickly as you know where on the page the information you want is. It also means that if someone else is collecting information for you, or needs to look at it in your absence, nothing is missed and everything is clear.

5. Don’t forget the date
Make sure case study notes or database entries are dated. It’s very important to know if the information you’re using is current. This applies to photographs too. Teenagers can be very sensitive about you still using photos of them as children when they’re 19 years old! People’s situations can change over time and you don’t want to have to spend time finding a fresh case study because you’ve upset one you already had.

Investing time up front to consider what information you need and how best to record it will cut down the time you spend on managing the information afterwards. The better organised you are, the quicker and more efficiently you can respond to case study requests and the more likely you are to secure the coverage you need.

Lisa Pettifer

consultant, Amazon PR

Lisa has for several years been a part of the Amazon PR team, working on projects for SSAFA, RAF Benevolent Fund, Dulcolax & Beating Bowel Cancer, Cats Protection and Jack Petchey Foundation. A former broadcast journalist for the BBC, Lisa also has experience in-house, dealing with case studies, media relations, marketing materials and social media planning.