How to win with a killer case study
In the cybersecurity PR world, it’s a well-known fact that case studies are hard to come by, given the clandestine nature of the business. However, we do get opportunities with some clients to speak to their happy customers, which is a great way to inform the press and gives tangible insight into the issues these customers face and how they were able to overcome them. Bear in mind, you’re making your clients’ customers look good and acting in their best interests, so look for the positives and be able to advise accordingly where too much information is potentially being given away.
Here are some of our top tips to create a great case study:
Speak to the right people
It may sound obvious but speak to the people that were involved in the implementation and the decision-making process to get the best understanding of what problems they were looking to overcome and how they went about choosing the solution. In cybersecurity, this will likely be the person with the job title head of IT, CISO, IT manager, technology lead or director of information security. These are the people the press will want to hear from, as they typically have very little access to them otherwise!
Once the correct person has been identified by the client, we set up a 30-minute phone call to discuss the use of our client’s solution.
Ask the right questions
It is important to send the questions to cover in advance, so that we know it will take up as little time as possible for these busy professionals and we get all the information we need, with very little back and forth. The idea is to get some good background information on the customer, what they do, how many employees are in the company, a generic description of the network environment and what analysis was made as part of the decision process to look for the solution.
From there, the problems and challenges the customer were looking to address is an area you should take the most time on. What was the customer looking to achieve, what were they doing before that wasn’t up to scratch, were there compliance regulations that came into play, was there a particular event that inspired them to look for the solution, or pressure from the Board, etc? The responses to these questions will be the most relatable and interesting to readers. Others in a similar position can read these and identify with them, which will ultimately make them sit up and take notice.
Next, ask about the chosen solution, the implementation process and how long it took as well as what departments were involved. Then cover the business benefits and get those standout quotes – how does the solution fit into the overall picture, did they manage to save money, please auditors, present information more easily to the Board, stop an attack?
And finally, everyone likes a learning outcome, so find out the lessons learned from the project if they had to do it all again and if they have any advice or recommendations for others either looking at your client’s solution or types of solutions. In addition, find out if there are any next steps to the project or other solutions from your client they are looking at. Side note: this can be valuable insight to feed back to your client!
Tell a story
Once all the information has been gathered, you can identify a natural progression of how the decision was made to use the solution – so tell the story! Make it interesting and relatable – no one likes dry technical facts on a sheet of paper. Pick out the best quotes and pepper them throughout so the reader gets a sense of the solution in the user’s own words. And make sure you get some nice photos of the spokesperson and other supporting images to bring it to life.
Do your Due Diligence
When all is said and done – do not make any of your case study public without running it by the customer’s communications team first!
A good case study is not only wonderful marketing material for the client’s website and other supporting documents, but if done the right way through telling a compelling story, it can also make great PR content to get that story to the masses.