Théo Blochet

Press releases for product development

You’ve seen some noise indicating demand for a new product. Sales lost deals because you didn’t solve the problem yet. Competing products have solutions for it. Discerning users asked your support team for it, and shrugged at the typical “we’ll pass this on to our product team” you wrote back.

You think it’s a horse worth betting on. Now.

If you were building for yourself, you could start defining your problem with users, outlining a minimum feature set, and building it over nights and weekends with a good engineer. Learn, rinse and repeat.

In large organisations though, products are too complex to grant you the luxury of autonomous iteration. To create product of any significance, you’ll need to convince execs and adjacent teams that your product is worth investing in.

Starting by writing a press release is a fantastic way of getting people excited about where you’re going, and products off the ground.

Try it. In a blog post, describe your solution attractively to your readers (your customers).

There’s tremendous value in working backwards. Humans love stories. A good press release will get executive buy-in and adjacent team commitments. It will motivate your product team.

The process of writing itself has value:

  • If you can't make it sound attractive to customers, the problem may not be worth solving
  • If you can’t describe the problem and your solution in simple terms, you need to learn more about both
  • If you can’t invent one or two hypothetical customer testimonials, you can’t articulate product value
  • If you can’t link the launch to your company strategy, you may need to reconsider the approach

Great. We’ve established that blog posts have value. But how do you start describing in such fanfare something you haven’t started work on?

It’s a process, like most things, the most important step is to start.

Get a first draft out. Spin up that google doc. Write a title and your launch date. It’s all bullet points from there.

  1. Describe the problem space - what do users want? Why is that important to them now?
  2. Outline why current solutions (including your own) fall short. Better, include proof.
  3. Show your solution. Demonstrate that it solves the problem in a superior way. Use hypothetical user quotes.
  4. Explain what success your company saw from the product so far, and ground it in strategy. Give a sneak peek of what will come next. (A CEO quote works well here!)
  5. Finish with a call to action for users: how can they get started, and where can they learn more?

Once you have your bullet points, you can turn the skeleton into a basic story. And here’s your first draft.

Then, make a list of people with more expertise than you in the space, and folks with vested interest in the product:

  • Sales people who asked for it
  • Support folks who replied to related tickets
  • Product marketing who know the space well
  • Partnerships who may lead partner integrations
  • Fellow PMs to gut check the product sense and dependencies

Ask them to review your blog post. Beg them to overuse your text editor’s commenting feature. Implore them to point out what’s missing or weak. Encourage them to ask questions.

List each of those questions below your blog post. You now have an FAQ people can self-serve, and the building blocks for your future knowledge base.

Protip: take the time to dissect some great blog posts to find inspiration. Here’s a recent favorite by Stripe’s Checkout team.

Now that you’ve got your vision set, it’s time to build.