Okay, this lesson will probably end up being the shortest, because it’s the one that interests me least ;-)
But I have to include it I suppose, even though most of what I’ll post here should go without saying.
1. Know your audience — and write to it. If you’re targeting executives, for instance, make sure the content is written to a suitably high level. What does your audience care about? How will the story benefit them? Mess this up, and the piece is a waste of your time — and everyone else’s.
2. Lucid organization. This ought to be a no-brainer, but I’ve seen case studies that fail miserably on this count, so I’m including it. The content has to follow some kind of logical structure. Don’t expect a reader to follow points that jump back and forth in time, for instance, unless you explicitly explain that you’ll be jumping back and forth in time (and why). Speaking of which, a timeline is probably your best structural fallback. Case studies are stories — they’re narratives. Pick a point at which the story began, tell that first, then tell what happened next, etc. (I nearly always conduct my interviews using that framework as well, incidentally — it helps with content organization as well as content communciation.)
3. Style guidelines. Most larger corporations will have selected a particular style guide (AP most likely) and will expect you to adhere to it. If not, suggest that they do. Then follow it.
Okay. That’s enough for now. Notice that I didn’t mention grammar, because I’m going to tackle that in a dedicated post. Ditto for sentence structure.
I think Lesson 2, however, will discus “the case study lodestar.”
Can you guess what that lodestar is?