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Case study preparation
Case Studies that follow the Harvard Business School model test your critical, analytical, and decision-making abilities by posing a problem or dilemma faced by an organization. The case study can be a real situation, or it can be a fictional account of a significant issue that may face an organization. Students “reason through” the situation, gather additional information via research, analyze the situation, derive options, and then come to a decision – either in a created scenario where they make the decision, or in a description and analysis of an actual situation wherein they evaluate the decisions that were made. Our Public Relations Case Studies will take the second form.
Select a case. The group should locate an actual public relations situation (problem, opportunity, or issue) that has confronted an organization recently (within the last 3 months, preferably). Look in PR Week, or use local, regional or national news sources. It should be focused on public relations.
Research. Next, you should gather as much information on the situation as you can so that you can describe it and answer questions about the organization and the situation it faces. Know the organization’s mission; its stakeholder publics; its products or services. Think about its political position; think about the economic conditions that might enable or disable the organization in its quest to fulfill its mission; and think about the social situations that might impinge upon the organization. Locate statistical data to strengthen your awareness of issues and to help you understand the various options facing the organization. Check Lexis Nexus for stories; if you can obtain a source that has insight on the case from the organization’s perspective, you should set up an interview schedule and guide and seek approval from Dr. TR-L to talk to this person.
Third, research for analysis. One way to evaluate the PR choices that the organization has made is to utilize theory as a lens for analysis and evaluation. The theory provides you with a way to look at and see the various components involved in the situation. At this stage, you may want to review current public relations theory (see PR theory list and sources), and you will need to become an “expert” on describing the theory and how it applies in the situation. The theory should explain the case, while the case can also help to explain the theory. Your analysis should lead your team to determine whether the PR choices the organization made were “good” (for whom?) or “bad” – using terms appropriate to your individual case – was it ethical? Just? The best course of action for the organization? Does it adhere to recommendations by PR experts? Does it meet the criteria for “best practices”?
Case Studies that follow the Harvard Business School model test your critical, analytical, and decision-making abilities by posing a problem or dilemma faced by an organization. The case study can be a real situation, or it can be a fictional account of a significant issue that may face an organization.