A well-written customer reference is worth a stack of press ads.

It’s the truth well told, but made tangible by the individual at the centre of the story.

I have written hundreds of case studies and references over the years for company magazines, newsletters and press releases. Everything from fine art to martial arts, from software to healthcare.

In particular, I led a highly successful and productive customer reference programme while Marketing Communications Manager at SAS International and now write case studies in sectors as diverse as procurement and hospitality.

Writing success stories requires a totally different approach to copywriting.

It’s a narrative. The products must stay in the background and the benefits must come across through the storyline. You don’t tell the readers. You show the readers how a character they can relate to solved a high-stakes challenge, overcoming adversity to become a modern-day hero. The real trick, however, is to do this with an objective tone of voice, as you would expect from news journalists.

That same objectivity and restraint also comes to the fore when writing press releases. Get the main facts of the story up front and keep opinions within quote marks. That way you can earn the respect of journalists and get your story into print.