People doing research for case studies

For many technology companies, obtaining customer case studies can be quite difficult – especially if the customers view the technology as their secret sauce. Naturally, they’d be wary of publicly touting any solution that’s giving them an edge over their competition. But case studies are so vital to good PR – especially when it comes to pitching top-tier media outlets and press. Can there be an adequate substitute?

Use cases can certainly come close. They provide great context for pitching a solution instead of a product, which means journalists may actually read your pitch instead of being so quick to hit the delete button on a straight product pitch.

For example, let’s say your client has developed a technology that improves cellular communication in remote areas of the world. Instead of simply talking about the product itself – its tech specs, capabilities and benefits – why not start by explaining a scenario that could highly benefit from such a technology? Whether that’s healthcare providers trying to communicate with doctors in the field, a pro sports team trying to talk to its recruiters abroad or military leaders trying to get a more accurate sense of on-the-ground conditions, you’ve just given your tech pitch something to make it come alive: context. And, it’s all achieved through an applicable use case that broadens the imagination to what this technology could really mean for real-world problems.

Freelance journalist Bob Scheier recently highlighted this same issue as one of “four pitching sins” – tech for tech’s sake (i.e. no use case!). He recaps the premise of a pitch he received and then offers a suggestion to improve it with an example scenario:

[A company] has announced the availability of its much anticipated new rugged handheld…with better overall performance with an astonishingly bright display, an extra-long battery life, enhanced GPS capabilities, and rugged IP68 construction.’

Better, cheaper, better…yadda yadda yadda. This sounds more like a bill of materials than an exciting story about what readers can do with the new device. How about “For years, roughnecks in North Dakota’s oil country have struggled to place rush orders for critical drilling equipment due to dim screens, inaccurate GPS readings and failing batteries on their handhelds. Soon, their orders will arrive more quickly and drilling will go easier due to the ease of use, brighter screen, extended battery life and enhanced GPS capabilities of our new… ”

While a good use case isn’t always a match for a compelling customer case study, it helps bring tech product pitches to life by explaining the problem and solution in terms readers – and the media! – may better understand from the outset. Supporting the story with market research data (or PR research, for that matter) not only lends it more credibility in the eyes of the media and the analysts, but also makes it more relevant for more stakeholders and longer periods of time.


This post was first published by Meredith L. Eaton on March Communications’ blog M+PR Nonsense.