Making Your Story Work for You

This month, our guest blogger, journalist Marina Gask, shares a few essential tips for anyone contemplating putting themselves forward as a case study in the media.

Freelance journalists are always being asked to find case studies for articles they’re writing.

People who’ve lost weight. People who’ve gained weight. People who’ve changed their lives/left their hated job/moved to the seaside/made a living from their hobby. And so on. It’s easy to think, when you see a call-out for case studies on social media, ‘Ooh, I could do that, I fit the brief’ – but what would you actually gain? Seeing your face in a magazine or online is great, but is it useful? Is it giving you an opportunity to present your business in a good light?

• Think about readership. Ask the journalist for some information on the demographic of their readers. Is it at least partially in line with your customers?

• Ask for copy to be read back to you. Be careful the journalist hasn’t put words in your mouth to make your story more ‘juicy’.

• Make sure your website address is included in the copy or credits.

• Is this article really going to serve your business and give you an opportunity to bring it to the right people’s attention? Will you feel comfortable sharing it on social media?

• Find out what other case studies are being included as this will tell you a lot about the overall feature. Does it still feel like a good fit?

• If your story is suddenly relevant due to a news hook – e.g. you gave birth on the same day as Kate Middleton – you may find you are, briefly, like gold dust and shouldn’t ‘waste’ your story on the wrong publication. Another, better press opportunity may soon arise – and is being a case study for the ‘wrong’ publication ever of benefit?

• Find out the picture requirements – i.e. do you need to provide your own shots, if so what kind, and if not is the journalist arranging to send a photographer to you, or get your picture taken in a studio? Ask to see the image they are using once chosen.

• Develop a good relationship with the journalist and let them know at the outset WHY you are volunteering to be a case study. They will feel duty-bound to respect your wishes.

• If you’ve written a book or have a new service or product to publicise, make sure the journalist is aware of this and ask if it can be given a mention. There may not be room, but nothing ventured nothing gained.

• It’s also wise to find out if your story will definitely be used, and when, so you don’t waste your time. Case studies and sometimes whole articles can get dropped at the last minute, and this can be heart- breaking if you’ve given a lot of your time to the journalist.

• In the event that you get dropped – and it’s not usually the journalist’s decision – you can negotiate to get a mention of your product or service on the news pages, or a mention in a future issue to compensate for your trouble.

A journalist and former magazine editor, Marina Gask is also a press consultant, copywriter and blog coach. To find out more go to www.marinagask.com