In choosing the topic of your case study, follow these steps. First, think about an organization you’re really interested in. (The case study will be revised for your final portfolio, and it can be the jumping-off place for your white paper. So it doesn’t go away anytime soon! Choose something you’ll actually want to write about.) The organization will likely be a brand or a company, but it could also be a non-profit, a city, or some other managerial body.
Second, as you begin researching that organization, locate a specific strategy they used to solve a problem successfully. This successful strategy should be from recent years. If it’s too old, it’s out of date (or it’s a famous, classic idea that everyone already knows). If it’s too recent, it’s likely still experimental: we don’t know for sure if it really works yet. Somewhere between a year old and ten years old is good.
To go back to the Adobe example: the case study you’re writing does not have to have exactly 7 paragraphs. But the document you write will be about the same length (around 1,000 words), and it should cover those same points: your reader needs to know what the problem was, why it matters, what the solution was, how that solution was brought to life, how we know it succeeded, and how it applies to other organizations.
Begin sentences with the relevant human beings, and use verbs that say what they did. If the Adobe example below has a weakness, it’s that the writer relies too much on just saying “Adobe.” It would be more informative if they told us the names of the people at Adobe who were instrumental in making the Woo-Woo campaign come to life. This may be something you do in a later publish after you’ve done more research, but you can start looking now: who are the key people who made the difference in the success of the strategy you’re studying.
For example, instead of saying: “Dove created the Real Beauty campaign,” it would be truer to say: “Dove partnered with ad agency Ogilvy and Mather to create the Real Beauty Campaign.” And it would be even better to say: “Dove brought in the creative team of Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk, from ad agency Ogilvy and Mather, to create the Real Beauty Campaign.”
Linking to sources:
Practice embedding links to sources (as you would see in the Wall Street Journal or other trade publications). An embedded link will look like this (Links to an external site.). (On a PC, right-click the relevant term or phrase, and then click “link” or “hyperlink” in the pop-up menu. Then just paste in the address of the source page. On a Mac, click on the relevant term or phrase, then hit command+k and paste in the address of the source page.) We will see (and practice) other models for citations later in the semester, as we encounter them in real-world documents.