The Power of Narrative in Building a Case Study

A standard item in the PR/communicator’s toolbox, patient stories or case studies told in a narrative way, are a powerful way to deliver a message and to engage an audience. But why is that?

Journalists also use narrative structure when recounting an event to highlight a person affected by the event because it “brings it home” for the reader.

For example:

It was a bright, Sunday morning when Susan woke up and

began mentally preparing for what she thought was going to her usual

morning coffee and book -- but something was off.

 

Did you find yourself thinking: “Wait...I like Sunday mornings and coffee? What happened to Susan?” It’s a classic and simple device used to draw out what the reader and the subject have in common. Your reader is now invested in finding out what could happen to someone with similar intentions or habits or in the context of business, similar goals and objectives and a potential road block.

Which leads me to the next benefit of narrative:

People immediately see themselves in the story.

It allows audiences with similar goals and objectives to envision themselves as the subject...

Susan stands up, but something’s not right. Pins and needles surge down her leg like a tattoo needle without a handler (plot twist).

Don’t worry... It’s a classic case of a sleepy leg but, in the moment, describing the sensation alone feels is relatable that draws your readers further in. For a business, this sensation could be a drop in market share or not able to tap into their desired demographic – The needles represent a pain point.

As humans, according to science, it is impossible for us to not engage when someone starts to tell us a story. In a business context, we may use narrative in case studies as we diagnose the issue, communicate our understanding to the client and then propose a range of available solutions. To use narrative in this way brings me to my next point:

It can be a great sales tool.

Using narrative to demonstrate a cause and solution can be a very human way to deliver a sales message. You can use it to demonstrate your ability to understand your client (Susan likes coffee and Sunday mornings), their business objectives (Susan wants to drink the coffee with her book), and their challenges (Susan is crippled by the numbies). Now it’s time to demonstrate how your creativity and strategic problem-solving capabilities lead to a remedy.

Your case study is simply the exterior of the vehicle around which your narrative i.e. the leather interior, the new car smell, and the engine that drives them to deciding on next steps.

Our advice for Susan: Get up. Shake it off. And maybe try changing positions every now and then.