Why and How you should write a PR FAQ for your next product
A useful tool I learned at Amazon was the Press Release and Frequently Asked Questions (PR FAQ) process.
If you are like me you have a bad habit of jumping straight to “solutioning”: delving into clever technical ways you could build something to solve all of the problems. This is an easy trap to fall into because it’s often the more intellectually stimulating part of building something - a blank page where anything is possible. Whether you end up building something is up for debate, or worse, you build something and it doesn’t solve a real problem. This can result in a lot of wasted time and effort.
Enter the PR FAQ. Writing a PR FAQ is a structured approach that puts the customer at the centre of your product, gives you direction, and ultimately helps you prevent wasting your time. The earlier you write one, the better. It works irrespective of the size of your team - whether you are a 1 person army or have 1,000,000 staff.
PR FAQs help answer questions like:
- Who is your customer?
- What problem are you solving and is it a real problem?
- How are you solving the problem in easy to understand language (customer speak)?
- What will customers want to know about the product?
You don’t have to publish the PR FAQ, it is effective when used purely for you and your team. With that said, it can also act as your first piece of marketing material when you are ready to launch! Win-win!
Enough intro, let’s get onto doing. PR FAQ’s follow a tried-and-tested format. They should be short: up to a maximum of 1-1.5 pages long. Here’s the PR template.
Headline with the product name and wording that will catch the eye of your target customer
Subheading summarising who the product is for and the outcome/value it delivers
Location - Date - Elevator Pitch. Up to 4 sentences summarising your product and its benefits. You want to write this in such a way that if readers stop after this paragraph they still walk away with an understanding of what the product does and why they want it (i.e. its value to them). Think of this as forcing you to write an elevator pitch. The PR FAQ is written as if you are in the future and are about to release the product into the world.
The Problem. Up to 4 sentences summarising the problem your product addresses. Include data points where possible that quantify the problem. Think of this as forced research to validate your product and assumptions. I tend to start with this paragraph and build out from there.
The solution. Up to 4 sentences summarising how your product solves the problem stated above. Helps solidify the product in your mind by matching up your assumptions to real data points of the problem.
Getting started. Up to 4 sentences summarising how customers can use your product to solve their problems. Helps solidify the onboarding journey from your customers perspective - you want this to be as easy as possible.
Quote. Include at most 3 short(ish) quotes, ideally a quote from someone at your company and a quote from a customer. Depending on the product it may make sense to only include a customer quote. These can go over the 4 sentences but don’t go nuts. If you are writing this before your product exists (as you should be, if you’ve learned anything from this post!!), make the customer quote up. Think about how you want customers to talk about your product and the value derived. Are they saving X amount of time? Are they earning Y dollars more? Is their life now sunshine and rainbows?
Call to action. 1-2 sentences explaining how the customer can get onto your product. Point them to your website or a physical store etc. Think about whether your product is available immediately or coming at some future date.
The FAQs are where you can delve into the nuts and bolts a bit more. Really get in the mind of a customer and ask important questions. There are no length limits on FAQs, you’ll have to decide what “done” is here. The intention of this section is to answer some of the more detailed or technical items a customer might want to know, but don’t logically fit in a PR. It follows the classic FAQ format you’ve seen everywhere:
Q: Whaddaya want to know?
A: That I’m working on something useful!
It’s as simple as that!
Giving you a template is great and all, but let’s solidify the learning with an example I started writing yesterday. This is a very early draft and work in progress but it’s far enough along that I can share it for demonstrative purposes. I don’t have a brand name in mind yet so I’ve gone with Mappy for now.
Mappy is your product roadmap improved
Eliminate the guesswork and start making products your customers actually want
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - 30 June 2021 - Today sees the launch of Mappy, a beautiful roadmap tool improving the feedback loop between you and your customer - busy founders and product owners. Mappy lets you focus on building the product that your customers actually want and throw away the cruft.
Starting a business is a complex mess of tasks, and one critical task is often overlooked - understanding your customer and validating your product or feature meets their needs. A study on startup post-mortems by CBInsights revealed a staggering 59% of Australian startups fail due to not meeting a market need or having a poor product offering.
Mappy helps solve this problem by enabling you to rapidly develop interactive product roadmaps and share them directly with your customer, with a built-in mechanism to capture their feedback.
Build your roadmap in Mappy with its simple WYSIWYG mode, select your desired feedback types (e.g. upvotes, downvotes, text), and distribute your link to your customers. Watch the feedback stream in directly to your dashboard. Do this early and repeatedly and stop wasting your time building things your customers don’t care about!
According to Matt Stibbard, creator of Mappy, “We use Mappy as a daily part of our workflow in building Mappy itself, as it seamlessly prioritises what to do (and not do!) next. It eliminated the guesswork of early product-market fit and streamlined ongoing product management.”
According to Hannah from XYZ Co., one of Mappy’s early customers, “Wow, I never thought of mapping out my product roadmap in this fashion before - and it has a built-in feedback loop! I LOVE Mappy! In the first 2 months using it my team has shipped 3 new features that customers actually wanted and skipped 2 previously planned features that were less important than we thought. These features have directly influenced our user growth of 25% and a reduction in churn of 12%!”
It couldn’t be easier to get started. Sign up for a free trial on goMappy.com and begin mapping out your vision with a catalog of beautiful templates and icons.