5 great ways to improve case-study gathering

browningyork Communication audiences, Communication lessons, Engagement, General communication, Planning, Story-telling

Cartoon people with speech bubblesDuring a session on engaging content at a recent conference, the speaker talked about how to gather a case-study.

Whatever your organisation does, you will have great stories of the work you do and the difference you make: used well, these will have a powerful effect on your intended audiences.

But before you can start using those stories to achieve your communication (and organisational) objectives, you need to find them. Great things are happening every day, but they are often hidden away in different parts of the organisation. The people doing the work may not realise the quality of what they are doing (‘just doing my job’) or the fact that it will be interesting to others (‘just doing my job’).

Communication teams need to uncover these stories and engage their colleagues to share details of what’s going on. So how can you do this? Where should you start?

Here are my top tips for helping others to understand why this is important and motivating them to tell you what’s happening:

1. Get clarity in your own mind about the types of stories that will interest your intended audience(s). This should naturally follow on from your objectives.

If you are trying to demonstrate the way your organisation is making a difference to children and families so that others will come along to your day centre, for example, your case-studies need to illustrate the activities that they could take part in. if you are aiming to secure increased funding from a grant-maker who is interested in collaboration between organisations, you need stories of where you are working with others. And so on.

2. Once you know what you need, work out where in your organisation those types of case-studies are most likely to come from. That way you can make sure you are talking to the people who can get you what you actually need.

3. Talk to your colleagues about why you need the case-studies. Link your objectives back to the overall aims of the organisation, so that they know this isn’t just something to tick your boxes. That it will make a difference to everyone, especially your beneficiaries. If people understand why something is important, they are more likely to commit to helping you.

4. Make the process for gathering the details as easy as possible. Provide templates for capturing the main details; people get used to what you need and you get useful information. Use systems that they already know and can easily access. Don’t overcomplicate things.

5. Remember to tell them what you have done with their case-study and, crucially, what the impact was. As well as encouraging them to keep telling you their stories, it provides an opportunity for regular reminders about the need for case-studies.

After doing all that, remember to look at what is different in the lives of the people as a result of your organisation’s work. That’s the really compelling part of any story – what difference does it actually make?

Get in touch if you would like support with finding case-studies at your organisation.

Until next time
Sarah