Manuscript Preparation

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Manuscripts should conform to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.), also known as “APA style.” The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) offers an especially good free tutorial on APA citation. Practitioners and those unfamiliar with APA style are encouraged to focus on the content of their case study submission first and their adherence to the technicalities of APA style second. Editorial assistance with APA style is available for authors whose manuscripts progress toward publication.

All URLs that are part of references should be clickable and active hyperlinks in the Word document. If there are multiple versions of a text available (e.g., a newspaper publishes an article in print, on its website, and it is also archived in a database such as LexisNexis), the first preference is for you to use the online version (with URL). Second preference is for the printed version, and third preference is for a database entry.

Please note that wire services such as the Associated Press are NOT considered authors. If a wire article does not list an actual author, APA style requires this entry to be listed by the article title.

If press releases are cited, please use this format:

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As an online journal, CSSC is not bound by length restrictions. Cases may be very short (a few thousand words) or quite long. Most cases are about 5,000-8,000 words in length, excluding references, tables, figures, exhibits, and appendices. Authors seeking to submit a case that is longer than 8,000 words should inquire first with the editor. For the most part, cases should contain the following sections:

Abstract (approx. 3-6 sentences)

The abstract for the case study should briefly summarize the problem, issue, or challenge confronted by an organization; the general strategic and tactical approach; and the outcomes. The abstract provides the reader with enough information to determine the case study’s focus.

Keywords (at least 1 industry keyword, as well as 5-10 additional keywords)

Separate keywords with semicolons (;). A case study should contain at least one industry keyword that describes the organization(s) at the center of the case. Additional keywords should cover the various touch points of the case in terms of strategy, context, tactics, and so on.

Overview or Introduction

The overview serves as a brief narrative introduction for the case study. The overview should establish the impetus for the strategic communication actions that are the focus of the case at hand. It is a “jumping off point” for the reader to conceptualize the issue facing the organization. The overview should be engaging and should draw the reader into the “scene” of the case story in a compelling way.


The background section provides a context for the case study. This section should contain an explanation of the organization(s) at the center of the case, a glimpse into the societal, political, or industry climate in which the organization is situated, as well as a rationale for the case at hand. Key information about the stakeholders involved in the case should be conveyed here, such as the organization’s size, its existing relationships and conflicts, and its broad goals. The problem, issue, or challenge confronted by the organization should be clearly stated in this section (if not already stated in the overview section), as well as a statement about whether the organization’s internal strategic communication team embarked on a campaign or whether an outside firm was retained.


All research activities related to the case should be explained in this section, as well as any key findings from research that inform the strategy or tactics of the case.


The background and research sections should flow logically into the strategy section. In this section, the strategy or approach of the case should be explicitly stated. This should include both specific, measurable objectives for the case and a plan for how the organization intended to meet those objectives.

Execution or Tactics

This section details the specific tactics used to execute the organization’s strategy. Authors are encouraged to provide considerable detail in this section, either through narrative description or through various exhibits and appendices (e.g., tables, figures, hyperlinks, examples of written materials). Do not merely state that “a special event was held” or “materials were sent to local media.” Rather, explain in detail what an event entailed and the tone and content of media materials, or include an example of those materials as an exhibit. It should be clear to the reader how each tactic was intended to execute a specific part of the strategy for the case. 


This section describes both the methods used to determine the success of the tactical approach and the outcomes of the case itself.

Analysis & Discussion

In this section, authors should provide their analysis of the case and an appraisal of what did and did not work. This section is the “so what” of the case study, where authors should provide take-away points and lessons learned from the case. Why is this case a compelling example of good (or bad) strategic communication practices? What does this case teach us about strategic communication?

Discussion Questions/Activities (4-8 items)

This section is specifically geared toward students and teachers of strategic communication. Many of the case studies in CSSC will be used by strategic communication teachers in case study classes. CSSC asks that authors provide some provocative discussion questions at the conclusion of their case study that may help students and teachers engage meaningfully with the case. These discussion questions should not simply assess reading comprehension of the case. Rather, discussion questions should ask the reader to consider: alternative strategies or tactics for the case; the application of new technologies to the case; ethical or legal tensions; missed opportunities or neglected stakeholders; whether the case could be scaled up or down for different organizations or industries; alternate versions of the case tailored to international or multicultural audiences; and other interesting directions for the case material. Alternatively, authors may provide teaching activities or exercises related to the case instead of or in addition to a slate of discussion questions.


Though not required for publication , authors are strongly encouraged to supplement their case study narratives with tables, figures, screenshots, hyperlinks, audio/visual material, examples of campaign materials, survey instruments, and other materials to bring their case to life. These materials should be noted in the manuscript submission (e.g., “Insert Table 1 here” or “Embed video clip here”), and all supplemental materials should be attached as separate files.

Acknowledgments/Declarations (if necessary)

In addition to typical notes of thanks an author may wish to include, authors must acknowledge funding support, if any, for the development of their case submission. If the contents of an author’s submission to CSSC is derived from a thesis, professional terminal project, or dissertation, this must be stated, as well as the university granting the degree and the adviser/chair/director of the thesis. Authors are also encouraged to acknowledge whether the contents of their submission to CSSC was previously presented at a conference.

CSSC also asks authors to declare any interest or stake in the organization(s) depicted in the case. This is especially important for authors who took part in the planning or execution of the strategic communication activities depicted in the case as employees, contractors, or consultants of the organization(s). By submitting a case to CSSC, it is assumed the author has permission to publish such a case and that he or she is not in violation of a non-disclosure agreement, terms of employment, or any other contract or law.


Any end notes or references to outside sources should be noted in this section, following APA style.

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Authors who make use of notes in their manuscripts should opt for end notes rather than footnotes, and these notes should be numbered with Arabic numerals (e.g., 1, 2, 3) in order throughout the manuscript.


Authors are responsible for the content of their manuscripts. This means that authors are responsible for obtaining permission from copyright owners to reprint their works.

Tables, Figures, and Other Exhibits

Authors are encouraged to use tables, figures, hyperlinks, video clips, exhibits, and other multimedia forms to enhance their case study. In the text of the manuscript, authors should refer logically to an exhibit (e.g., “In Figure 1…,” “See Table 2…,” and “Video clip 4…”) and insert a note to the editor regarding placement (e.g., “***Insert Table 3 about here***” or “***Embed Video clip 6 about here***”).

Authors wishing to include hyperlinks as part of the flow of the text should make those links clickable and active in the Word document.

Tables, figures, and other exhibits may be included at the end of the manuscript itself, on separate pages, or attached as separate files in the submission email.

If an offline video or other multimedia clip (e.g., .mpeg, .mov, .wav) larger than 1MB is intended to be part of the case study, authors are asked to find an online home for the clip (e.g., posted to YouTube) and to provide a URL for the clip instead.

Please keep the total file size of a submission under 3MB. File qualities and sizes will be negotiated with authors as a manuscript progresses toward publication.

Acceptable File Formats

All manuscript text should be submitted as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf file. Please do not submit .pdf files for manuscript text. Acceptable image file formats include .jpeg, .tiff, .gif, and .png.

“Blinding” a File

Authors should not make their identities known in manuscript submissions. This is to guarantee that peer-reviewers will not be biased by knowing the author of a case. Authors who make reference to themselves in the manuscript should replace their name or other identifying information with “AUTHOR REDACTED FOR PEER REVIEW” or a similar note. Authors who were involved in the execution of a case should opt for a third-person voice (e.g., “The account team…”) rather than a first-person voice (e.g., “As the account manager, I…”). As a manuscript makes it through peer review and progresses toward publication, these details can be changed to make a case sound more personal for the final version if desired.

Authors are also required to clear any identifying metadata from files. Typically, the information used when a word processing program is installed on a computer appears as a kind of digital fingerprint on all files. This information often includes an author’s name and organization. Authors should remove these metadata from files before submission. The ability to edit/delete these metadata is usually available through a word processing program’s “Tools,” “File,” or “Properties” menu. For example, to erase the metadata in Microsoft Word 2007, do the following: 1) Click the “Office Button” in the top left corner of the program. 2) Under the “Prepare” option, click “Properties.” 3) Under “Document Properties,” select “Advanced Properties.” 4) Under the “Summary” tab, delete author, organization, and any other identifying information, and click “OK.” 5) Save the document.

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