How To Use Mock Press Releases to Innovate Better



This is a technique I used on Satya Nadella’s Innovation team to ignite ideas and speed up disruptive innovation.

It’s writing mock press releases to frame and share big ideas.

If you want to create better business ideas to grow and innovate, start with the moch press release approach.  Writing up a mock press release is a powerful way to challenge the status quo, and instigate a compelling change.

Just like how scenario planning can help you play out future possibilities, writing a mock press release can help you explore potential disruptions for your business or in the market.

Because of its narrative structure, it’s far more powerful than simply listing bullets on a slide.  And because of the nature of a press release, it forces you to try and capture the Wow factor and to really highlight, what’s the big change, in a way people can understand it.

You know you’ve done a good job when you are worried if your competitor will actually do what you mocked up.  (And this also helps create a sense of urgency and a rise to act.)

The Mock Press Release Approach

Keep it incredibly simple so that you can build the muscle around writing mock press releases.  They take practice, and they don’t have to be perfect to be effective.

They just need to be compelling.

Thinks of the approach in 3 main steps that you can iterate on:

  1. Write a compelling headline
  2. Write a narrative about the challenge and the change– how the world will be different when you are done, and what will the impact be?
  3. Read it out loud and tune and improve it

Getting the headline right is where the rubber meets the road.  Your ability to frame an idea in a way that captures attention will make or break the rest of your efforts.

Your headline sets the stage for your entire narrative, before you elaborate it.

It’s what Seth Godin calls an “idea virus.”  If you can plant the idea in somebody’s mind, it takes hold.  And they will spread that idea for you, if you make it easy enough.  That’s where your powerful and compelling headline come into play.

Your can play your headline and narrative off of each other as you write things down and tweak them.  This iterative process will help you refine your idea and really think through it in a much deeper way.

The real beauty is that once you have your mocked up press release on a page, you can now easily share your big idea and people will take notice (whether that’s your colleagues or customers, or anyone really.)

Example Press Release # 1 – Virtual Trials Forever Change the Game for Drug Testing

New Patient Services Platform shortens clinical trials, improves patient care, and demonstrates long term drug effectiveness.

Today ACME Pharma announced a groundbreaking patient services platform that will combine traditional drug therapies with data from health monitoring equipment and wearables throughout the drug lifecycle. The result will be a new generation of “smart drugs” that are brought to market more effectively, provide additional data to healthcare providers, and demonstrate to governments and insurance providers that therapies are truly effective.

Today, clinical trials are incredibly expensive, with costs driven up by ineffective recruitment and patient dropouts. AMCE Pharma is estimated to spend $20 Billion on clinical trials, with patient dropout rates in the range of 25-40%.

“That is a huge amount of wasted money that drives up the cost of therapies, and slows the time to market of potentially lifesaving drugs” said Mary Bond of ACME Pharma Research Institute. With the new, modern patient services platform, ACME will be able to capture data from potential trial participants’ wearables in advance, ensuring that they get participants with the right level of diversity who are less likely to drop out.

Once in the trial, the same wearables and other health monitoring equipment will be able to pass data back to the platform without the participant having to travel, again reducing dropout rates. Researchers will have access to much richer information via the platform, which could lead to effective adaptive clinical trials.

At least as significant is the potential for improving the use of these drugs in production. Sensors can be used to monitor patient compliance with a drug regimen, and to capture health information throughout the month. The patient services platform can then pass data back to healthcare professionals.

“Doctors will no longer have to rely solely on patient histories, gathered once every few months” said Virginia Miller of Healthcare Analysts. “Now they will be able to supplement the patient history with real data, aligned with their history of using a therapy”. This information could allow a physician to adjust doses with confidence, or combine therapies, sometimes without even needing a face to face appointment.

The benefits do not stop with patient care. Today it can be very difficult for insurance providers and governments to understand the true benefits of a therapy. The patient services platform will be able to provide evidence of drug effectiveness across populations. This will help determine appropriate drug pricing, and show when a drug is truly more effective than alternatives.

For ArtificialAbility, the patient services platform builds on its strengths as an AI-savvy platform company that embraces technologies from all providers. Data can be collected from various devices – from wearables such as the Apple Watch, or from more traditional health monitoring equipment. The data is analyzed on the patient services platform built on Cloud, and insight is provided to researchers, healthcare professionals and insurance providers of their choice.

“The patient services platform represents a significant breakthrough–this platform can revolutionize all aspects of healthcare, lower costs and most significantly improve patient health outcomes”, said Mary Bond.

Example Press Release # 2 – Big Data Makes Personalized Medicine Real

Drugs to come to market much faster and personalized medicine is on the way.

Today ACME Pharma announced a radical new approach to integrate big data analytics into clinical trials. It will partner with ArtificialAbility to drive shorter, more effective trials at much lower cost.

According to Keith Reed of ACME Pharma drug research institute ,“Trials are hugely expensive today.” Reed says that one of the ways of lowering those costs is to gather and interpret as much data as they can from the trials they perform. The benefits can begin very early on by analyzing which trials to pursue, and conducting “virtual trials” before conventional trials begin.

Trials themselves can now become adaptive, changing midway through, based on evidence that is gathered, and analyzed. Additionally, this far richer data analysis can allow highly robust clinical trials to be performed on fewer patients. Predictive analytics techniques can be used to help determine the best dose of a drug. Taken collectively, these benefits can be used to further reduce costs and decrease time to production.

One of the most intriguing uses of big data analytics will be in providing personalized medicine. By combining data from individual patients (for example from genetic sequencing and electronic medical records) with a detailed understanding of the drug in different populations, it will be possible to create more personalized therapies, with potentially greater success and fewer side effects.

For ArtificialAbility, this partnership represents one of the most significant uses of its cloud, predictive analytics and machines learning capabilities to date. “This is exactly the kind of use case that excites us when we think of the potential of cloud” said Victoria Kennedy, ArtificialAbility CEO. “By harnessing the power of our public cloud and machine learnings services, ACME Pharma will be able to create better therapies faster and cheaper.”

“We are only beginning to see the benefits that arise from fully embracing big data analytics in medicine” said medical researcher Sandra Weaver of ACME research corporation. “We are on the cusp of a new technology revolution in medicine, one where massive quantities of data drive better healthcare outcomes for millions of individuals worldwide”

About the Examples

The examples aren’t perfect.  In fact, that’s part of the point.  The main idea is to simply get something down on paper that you can work with and improve (or throw away and start again.)

But what you should take away from the examples is that they are more narrative, less bullet points, and the headlines quickly share the main idea in a single bound.

The more you write, the better you’ll get and you will learn interesting nuances such as whether to put the focus on the business change or some aspect of it, or how the market will change, etc.

Call to Action

If you have a big idea that you can’t just seem to get across, try writing the mock press release. 

If you are in a place that’s stuck and is too inwardly focused, try creating an example of what your competitor could do.  Write the mock press release in a way that shows how your competitor just used your big idea to change the world.

That’s usually enough to get people to take notice.  Sometimes great ideas fall on deaf ears, but when you position them from the outside in, suddenly they take on a new life.

Don’t worry about perfection, just worry about progress.

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