With public relations and marketing, it’s crucial to keep the bottom line in mind.
For most any enterprise, the overarching goal isn’t to write a news release or to secure media coverage or to do any of those activities that people put under the heading of “getting our name out there.” Instead, those are all simply steps in a larger process of the actual goal: attracting more customers so that you can earn more income, in order to ride off into the sunset and live more profitably ever after.
These thoughts came to the fore last week as I was counseling a budding publicist about a new client of hers. It’s a North Shore-based company that helps residential and commercial customers pay less on their heating and air-conditioning bills.
The business owner wanted a news release to tout the company’s success in helping a large customer reduce its heating and cooling costs. But that’s not news—that’s just business-as-usual in action. If you want to write a puff piece on that kind of thing, and get it into the local media, that’s OK. But the better return on investment will be creating a case study that the business can share with prospective customers.
In essence, case studies tell the world, “Here’s how we helped someone solve a problem. We can help you too. Give us a call.” The structure of a case study (which can be called any number of names, such as “success stories”) is straightforward:
Success in business is founded upon identifying problems. Everyone’s got problems. Start your story at that greatest point of pain.
What did you do to help alleviate the pain that an individual or organization was enduring? Be specific, and be succinct.
What were the happy results of the steps that you took in that process of solving the client’s problem? Use data points, whenever possible, and illustrate your real before-versus-after impact.
Your case studies should include a comment from the client that showers specific, authentic praise on your organization. Whenever possible—and this should be the vast majority of the time—accompany the quote with a high-ranking individual’s full name and title. After all, this isn’t the Witness Protection Program.
To recap, the point isn’t finagling a way to “get your story out there” to thousands of people who don’t really care. Communicate it well to a much smaller group of targeted people who will not only care, but will have a vested interest in taking action on the information. Now that is a much more effective way of bolstering your bottom line.
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