Try an Internal Press Release before starting new Products

Learn how Amazon works backwards from the customer, rather than starting with an idea for a product


There is an approach called “working backwards” that is widely used at Amazon, according to Ian McAllister (@ianmcall), General Manager at Amazon.

"We work backwards from the customer, rather than starting with an idea for a product and trying to bolt customers onto it."

For new initiatives a product manager writes an internal press release announcing the finished product, it is "centered around the customer problem, how current solutions (internal or external) fail, and how the new product will blow away existing solutions", writes McAllister.

The PM keeps iterating on the press release until they’ve come up something really good.

"Iterating on a press release is a lot quicker and less expensive than iterating on the product itself ."

McAllister also shared a template that can be used to create an internal press release:

Here’s an example outline for the press release:

  • 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 so 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.

He also gave some advice:

  • Keep it simple.
  • 3-4 sentences for most paragraphs.
  • Don’t make it into a spec.
  • Accompany the press release with a FAQ.
  • No Geek-Speak (Imagine you’re sitting on Oprah’s couch and have just explained the product to her, and then you listen as she explains it to her audience. That’s “Oprah-speak”, not “Geek-speak”.)
"If the press release is hard to write, then the product is probably going to suck. Keep working at it until the outline for each paragraph flows. "

That's pretty awesome, isn'’ it?

Thanks very much @ianmcall for sharing this!