The Future Press Release: Amazon’s Secret Tool for Innovation

amazon future press releases, amazon product development innovation practicesCan a press release stimulate product innovation? Former Amazon executives say the ecommerce giant uses press releases for inspiration and innovation.

The company’s product development teams write a hypothetical press release about a new product or service at the beginning of its development.

In the conventional process, companies often have only a vague idea of their main goal. They may revise goals along the way, a process that costs time, money, and may even endanger the project’s success, says former Amazon executive John Rossman[1], author of Think Like Amazon and The Amazon Way book series.

Advantages of a Backwards Process

By reversing the standard process, a company establishes its goal and the product’s key selling point. It clarifies leadership’s vision, communicates a roadmap to success to key stakeholders, and outlines how the company will promote the product. The future press release acts a contract. Teams commit to developing the product’s features and achieving the goals the document cites.

“Not only can it define the future but it can also keep your organizational structure from transforming into a bureaucratic rat’s nest and empower a leader to drive the initiative across multiple teams,” writes Rossman, who wrote the future press release for the Amazon Marketplace business.

Amazon Web Services Senior Vice President Andy Jassy revealed how the company used future press releases at a summit several years ago, according to Business Insider[2]. Working backwards forces team members to tackle difficult questions early, Jassy said. They need to explain the product’s value proposition and how it will be promoted. If the team can’t create a compelling press release, the product probably isn’t worth making.

Proponents of the practice say other companies can benefit by adopting Amazon’s practice.

While a future press release helps the product development team focus, corporate communications and PR professionals can play an instrumental role. Companies will rely on the communications skills PR professionals to craft the document and follow best practices for writing press releases[3]. PR pros have the skills needed to clearly describe the product’s value to customers and other key stakeholders and explain how the company will publicize the product’s virtues. Public relations professionals can also use future press releases to map out their PR plans.

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