There are several ways you can apply this PR management practice popularized by Amazon.
“. . . The seminal document that just about every new initiative at Amazon emanates from: a PRFAQ memo, which aims to imagine how the company would market the service in a press release upon launch, and how it would answer the most common questions the general public might have.”
That’s from the 2023 book Winner Sells All about the rivalry between Amazon and Walmart. The story details a couple times when Amazon execs would draft a hypothetical news release and work backward from there in designing a new product or feature.
Think how that could help your company’s or client’s culture of innovation! Here are some applications:
Help leadership avoid myopia
When deliberating about a course of action, it’s quite common for executives to lose track of how external stakeholders might react. Help broaden their vision by drafting a hypothetical news release that imagines how you might announce the initiative (as they currently see it) down the road. Sometimes seeing tone-deafness in print can help them refocus on customers, employees, or whomever they’d been inadvertently ignoring.
Inspire your project team to build newsworthiness into their plan
Let’s say you’ve been invited to be part of team-building a new product or rolling out a new program. While your team is still in the planning phase, provide a version of the news release that their current plan would yield. And contrast that with another version that incorporates new elements that would strengthen newsworthiness. Example: When Duolingo was preparing to add Navajo and Hawaiian to the app, the PR lead suggested they buckle down to get the update ready to announce by Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Competitor simulation can be very motivating
You may be agitating internally for your brand to make some statement, take some stand, or announce some new innovation so that you aren’t perceived as falling behind the times. I know one PR agency that would draft a fictional news release in which a competitor made the announcement that their client had been dragging their feet on. Seeing this sometimes spurred the client to action. The stakes can be high – last week a PR lead at a large brand told me that his company’s coverage for their AI integration dwarfed their competitor’s announcement of the same feature. The reason? The competitor announced theirs just one day later.
Just say, “Amazon does this for every new initiative, so I thought we could try it and see how it might help us.” Then pass the draft news release around the conference room table or drop the link into the chat.
If nothing else, you’ll have a draft all ready to build off when it comes time to write the real news release.
This article was originally published on February 1, 2024
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