Making an Alexa skill might sound tough — there are so many queries and responses to account for! But many brands are taking a simpler approach to conversational voice interfaces: Alexa flash briefings.
First, what is a flash briefing? Flash briefings are short, informative pieces of prerecorded audio — kind of like a podcast or radio show.
“Alexa flash briefings can last up to ten minutes and are usually pushed out on a daily or weekly basis.”
Because they’re short and broadcast regularly, Alexa flash briefings make for a great content channel for brands. Some things you can do with an Alexa flash briefing include informing your fans of updates on products, services or news relating to your brand.
TIP 1: You can also provide short-form lifestyle content like a daily horoscope or word-of-the-day.
TIP 2: Influencers can also set up an Alexa or Google Home news briefing to provide professional advice or daily tips to their audience.
Think of flash briefings as a cross between podcasts and Alexa skills. They’re not as interactive as skills, but allow Alexa users to receive all the news they care about most within a conversational interface.
Alexa Flash Briefing Tutorial
Setting up an Alexa flash briefing is a relatively simple process. First, you’ll need a place to host your audio content. While you can self-host, popular services for hosting audio content include Libsyn and Effct, the latter of which is free.
No matter where you choose to host, you’ll need to copy the RSS feed generated for your flash briefing. If you choose to develop a Google Home news briefing, you’ll need to do a little extra work with your RSS feed — but we’ll get to that below. If you’re developing briefings for Amazon, move on.
The next step in our Alexa flash briefing tutorial is to set up an Alexa skill for delivering the briefing. First, visit the Amazon Developer Console to create a new skill. Begin by giving it a name, then click “next.” You’ll be offered a selection of Alexa skill models to choose from. Select “flash briefing” from the list, then you’ll be met with a series of Alexa flash briefing options.
The first of the Alexa flash briefing options to include is an error message. Alexa will read this to your audience if your briefing is unavailable. Next, you’ll be asked to paste the RSS feed provided by your audio host. The “preamble” field is a short, introductory cue that Alexa will read before delivering your briefing. Finally, fill out any remaining Alexa flash briefing options — frequency, briefing name, category/genre and more — and soon you’ll be ready to launch.
Once you’ve filled out the page, it’s time to make a listing or profile page for your flash briefing. This process is the same as with any Alexa skill: give your briefing a short description, a long one and a profile image to use. After that, submit your skill and begin recording your content! When you upload new content to your audio host, it will automatically push to your flash briefing via RSS.
Publishing a Google Home News Briefing
Google Assistant doesn’t have flash briefings in the Alexa sense — instead, you’ll be publishing your audio content as a podcast. This is a little more technical than Alexa’s process. First, your briefing will need its own homepage. Second, you’ll need to edit the briefing’s RSS feed to include snippets of code that are required for Google Assistant to recognize it in its directory — check out all the requirements here. Google doesn’t require setting up an Assistant action. Once you’ve included the necessary code in your RSS feed, your podcast will show up automatically within search results.
Next Steps: Set Up an Interactive Skill
Flash briefings are great for quickly informing your audience, but a fully interactive Alexa skill or Google Assistant action will allow even more freedom. With a well-designed skill, you can provide personalized service and content to your audience at any time — not just once a day or week. With a voice chatbot analytics tool like we provide as Botanalytics, you can also receive helpful usage data to get to know your audience even better.
Flash briefings make for a great, simple way to dip your toes into conversational platforms. Once you’ve cultivated a presence on the platform, try implementing a fully featured skill next!