Amazon Internal Press Release in Product Management.

Amazon Internal Press Release

Last year I changed the way I approach new features or any new projects with my team.

My objective:

How to align the whole company, from marketing to operations? Based on what the product team is building?

The Problem:

There was a misalignment between Marketing & Sales and Product & Engineering. E.g. Engineering deploys to production today, Marketing posts on Social Media in a week.

Mismatching customer feedback, engineering efforts, and other areas like customer support updates. E.g. updated knowledge base, notifying users with the new feature.

The Solution:

Internal Press Release

Now, any new feature, or request starts with an Internal Press Release.

The Internal Press Release which was conceived in Amazon. Ian McAllister, Ex-Amazon Sr. Product Manager: _“Amazon’s approach to product development is by working backwards from the customer, rather than starting with an idea for a product and trying to bolt customers onto it.”

Does it work?

It works. It forces you as Product Manager [to think] to synthesize the details needed to launch, for example:

  • Who is the buyer?
  • Which user persona?
  • How does the product work?
  • Pricing?
  • What's the user experience?
  • Date of launch // Release

Now with the team, any new project, or any new feature starts with an internal press release.

It brings clarity:

  1. By having a higher-level view of the product;
  2. By understanding the challenges & touching points inside the company;
  3. By allowing Sales, Customer Support, and Marketing to be part of the conversation; and
  4. To the company by visualizing the product outcome for operations.

> ”Iterating on a press release is a lot quicker and less expensive than iterating on the product itself .- Ian McAllister“

This defines your MVP, your customer, and the shipping date. Empowering the whole organization to reverse engineer the elements you need to achieve the product.

This is the Internal Press Release Structure:

Heading - Name the product in a way the reader (i.e. your target customers) will understand.

Sub-Heading - Describe who the market for the product is and what benefit they get. One sentence only underneath the title.

Summary - Give a summary of the product and the benefit. Assume the reader will not read anything else to make this paragraph good.

Problem - Describe the problem your product solves.

Solution - Describe how your product elegantly solves the problem.

Quote from You - A quote from a spokesperson in your company.

How to Get Started - Describe how easy it is to get started.

Customer Quote - Provide a quote from a hypothetical customer that describes how they experienced the benefit.

Closing and Call to Action - Wrap it up and give pointers where the reader should go next.

I advise you to keep the press release under 1 page. You want to tackle this from a high-level view, from the “why” this is product amazing and necessary, and not from the lower level which is the “how”, meaning the specs, the details, how is built.

In McAllister words, keep it simple, don’t make it into a spec, and no Geek-Speak.

Challenges:

So I know this works in Amazon, I've used this in a small and medium size startup.

I don't know how Amazon does it, but on my end, you need to iterate fast on the Internal Press Release. Wrap it up, and send it to users or get feedback asap.

We tend to be a perfectionist on granular details. Remember is not possible to plan everything.

An internal press release is a high-level approach to product development. Is not a product requirement document. Any user stories, epics, acceptance criteria, or whatever you use, are for another document.

The document is a simple document to raise the bar on:

  1. what's the expectation between what the user wants (hypothesis)
  2. How she wants it (product experience); and
  3. What the company needs to do to deliver it.

So don't overload the document. There's no point in writing a document if no one is going to read it.

I would love to know how you kick things off on your company, I'll share the next Internal Press Release here.

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Daniel Yubi