Communication Studies-BUSINESS

Portfolio Project: Writing a Case Study (350 points) “News is what you don’t want to tell me. Everything else is public relations.” –David Brinkley, journalist The case study is an excellent

way to help prepare students and managers to be prepared to face real-life business situations—

analyzing all the relevant data, making efficient decisions, and taking appropriate action. The

writing of a business case study is an important skill that demonstrates communications and

analytical skills. Case studies are, in essence, narratives that tell the story of the business

problem or issue at hand. These narratives, or stories, do not provide answers directly; rather,

they offer as much background and situational information as possible to present the situation in

as unbiased and thorough a manner as possible, writing from the viewpoints of as many of the

parties as reasonably possible. Writing and analyzing case studies allows students to demonstrate

proficiency in many facets of business education—especially, in this case, in business

communications and analysis. The case study is therefore a tool to offer students the opportunity

to explore business communications issues in a complex manner—not simply deducing or memorizing the

answer, but thinking deeply about the issues involved and how to approach a solution. A library

case study—the kind involved in this Portfolio Project assignment—does not include information that

cannot be found in the public record by anyone with internet access, a library card, and

rudimentary research skills. A wealth of information is available to such interested individuals,

including TV and newspaper stories, blogs, government documents, federal court proceedings, and

sometimes other resources—especially for organizations that are publicly traded, such as IPOs or

other public disclosures. To write your case study: • First select a topic that is interesting both

to you and to your intended audience—in this case, your instructor. Try to find a subject that is

relatively timely, that is or has been in the public eye, at least until recently. • Then, do some

preliminary research on your topic, using the internet and/or online library databases. Next,

consider the perspective from which you will tell the story. Who is the primary decision-maker in

your scenario? Nail down the beginning and end dates of your narrative, and think about the level

of detail that you want to write. • Then, build a timeline of events that are important to your

case, in chronological order. • Identify key characters in your narrative; and identify the key

issues that you’ll write about, in order of importance. • Next, prepare your first and second

drafts, keeping in mind the importance of capturing your audience’s attention with a quote, a

crucial event, or an anecdote in the opening paragraphs. After grabbing your reader’s attention,

offer a brief explanation of the company’s history, its industry, and its size (such as annual

revenues, number of employees, market share, etc.). Introduce your reader to the key players and

decision-makers. Keep in mind the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of your story. Be sure to

enumerate important assumptions; and use quotes from key players where possible. Finally, read your

drafts for flow, grammar, and syntax. As much as possible, be sure that your writing is lively,

accurate, and cogent. Consider any tables, graphs, figures, stock charts, maps, or other graphics

to include in the appendices that will help your reader to navigate the narrative. Be sure to

indicate the source of anything you use, unless you build it yourself. Your well-written paper must

include the following considerations: • 7- 10 pages in length, including reference page(s) (not

including appendices). • Formatted according to APA requirements • Be clear, concise, and focused

on the assignment. • Utilize approximately six different outside sources that will help to support

your assertions and strengthen your arguments Meet the requirements of the assignment. Below is an

example of the title and précis of a (rather lengthy, with the appendices) student-written business

case study, to give you an idea of the tone and scope of your case study. American Apparel: The

Plus-Sized Problem Categories: Apparel and Textile, Brand Management, Conflict Management, Customer

Communication, Manufacturing Authors: Garg, P.; Fan, K.; and O’Rourke, J.S. (Editor) American

Apparel, a multinational fashion retailer headquartered in Downtown Los Angeles, looked to target

the plus-size clothing customer segment in an effort to grow its stagnant sales. It launched “The

Next Big Thing,” a marketing campaign requiring contestants to submit modeling shots for American

Apparel’s online audience to vote on. Little did they know that their ad copy, which utilized

several puns as adjectives to describe larger women, would invoke a negative response by media

outlets as well as incite members of the plus-size community. Nancy Upton, a size-12-wearing

student and actress based in Dallas, Texas, decided to join the contest with a satirical entry, and

created a blog. What happened next was a series of corporate communication problems that revealed a

deeper issue of cultural insensitivity rather than just a poor choice of wording. 17 pp. #13-08



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