The 'what' and 'why' of case studies

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June 10, 2020
Average: 5 (3 votes)
Utilising a case study for your media relations activity puts a human face to a story. It can be a powerful tool to help you drive home your message through someone's personal experience along with creating a stronger media hook for your story. In this course, we'll take you through how to identify and find a case study, taking care of them to make sure they're comfortable and supported in sharing their story, managing the relationship between your case study and journalists and how to handle any issues that may arise.
Hi, I'm Lauren, welcome to Lumin.

I've been working with clients over the last few years to help them tell their stories in the media. In this course, I will take you through what a case study is, why they are used in media relations, and most importantly- how to use them.

To secure coverage in the media, your story needs to be newsworthy. The criteria that a journalist looks for to determine this are timing, significance, proximity, prominence, and human interest. Proximity and human interest- that's where case studies come in.

So let's talk about what a case study is. A case study is a tool used to engage the media. Its defining characteristic is that it puts a human face to a story. In simple terms, it's using someone's personal experience to highlight the importance of an issue and drive a message home. For example, to generate community discussion and encourage more Australians to sign up to become organ and tissue donors, DonateLife used case studies to communicate the campaign's message and call to action. Media interviews were conducted with transplant recipients who spoke about their personal experiences. Using media as a channel to reach a mass audience, the case studies were able to tell their life-changing stories to inspire and encourage the public to register as donors.

So, now you know what a case study is- let's talk about why you'd use them. There are a range of good reasons. Case studies highlight real life experiences, making them relatable and compelling. Putting a human face to a story makes it impactful for readers and viewers, and therefore enticing to journalist. A human-interest angle gives a journalist a point of difference, or a hook, for their audience. Case studies can be a useful device to explain a complex issue. Breaking a topic down to the level of human experience makes it easier to understand and facilitate public discussion and engagement. If there is a particular course of action you want your audience to take, case studies can provide a persuasive reason to do so. A longer format news story can benefit from a case study- it adds detail, nuance, and a third-party credibility to a cause. If the subject of your case study is comfortable being interviewed, there is an opportunity to tell their story across various media channels: TV, radio, and both print and online news- reaching a wider audience.

In our next lesson, we'll talk about how to find a great case study subject.

About the instructor

Lauren Everett

Lauren is a media relations specialist who is passionate about using public relations to help communities understand complex issues that initiate positive social change. Having worked across a range of research led consumer and not-for-profit campaigns for clients including the Dylan Alcott Foundation and Victoria University, Lauren is experienced in transforming research into compelling stories that will engage media and connect with communities. Lauren has worked with Melbourne City Mission, launching Frontyard, its integrated service model and emergency accommodation for young people experiencing homelessness. The Australian first model, developed from international leading research, was announced as part of a media doorstop which included the Minister of Planning and Housing and the Lord Mayor and resulted in quality coverage across metro TV, print news and radio. Lauren holds a Bachelor of Communications (Public Relations) with Distinction from RMIT.