How communicators can use Alexa’s ‘Flash Briefings’

As more users turn to their smart speakers for news updates and other content, communicators should try to join the conversation. Here’s how.

Flash Briefings is a service offered by Amazon for their Alexa and Echo customers.

Is it a play for some of the podcast market? It’s interesting to watch and certainly other smart home companies will follow.

The briefing is a rundown of audio segments that users can customize with content (called “skills”) that different organizations or people create. Every day, they can ask Alexa to play their briefing, and the service will play that day’s new audio segments.

It’s your very own customized news report.

Local news organizations, professional communities, historians, economists, celebrities— anyone can create a “skill” that is relevant to their interests and the interests of their communities.

As a communications professional, it’s time to seriously consider creating your own Alexa Skill, either for the company or for your client’s organizations. They are a great way to keep your organization relevant, engage your audience and get your content into the same space as organizations such as CNN, NPR and the BBC.

Rules of the road

You can create updates for your Flash Briefing as often as you want, however daily tends to work the best because of the consistency nature of it. That could be a drain on your time and creative energy.

Here are the types of content that will lend themselves best to Flash Briefings:

1. News

If any area of your business requires staying current, then a daily update of what is happening in your field can be hugely valuable to listeners. Some examples are newspapers and journalism, as well as highly regulated industries such as medicine, law, finance and real-estate.

If you have access to the latest in what’s happening, you can use it to bolster your brand.

2. Commentary

Nearly every industry has daily news or consistently updated content. Take those headlines, articles, podcasts, videos or other publications, and share your thoughts about them.

3. Repurpose content

If it’s evergreen, this can be a great way to give what you’ve written or recorded in the past a second life. Go back through your old content and find interesting, stand-alone snippets that you could turn into audio segments. You’ll want to re-write them as complete thoughts, but this method is very easy to batch for east, daily release.

4. General topics

Think word of the day, interesting fish facts, historical tidbits or gardening tips. You can comment on “holidays” like bubble bath day, national dress up your pet day, national nothing day, national popcorn day or even penguin awareness day.

How to get started

Anything that can be produced each day, isn’t sequential and has a strong message for your audience is great for a Flash Briefing. For those of you who want to dive in, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Alexa isn’t going to shoehorn your content into people’s briefings. This means you need to tell people that your content is available for their briefing, and show them how to access it.Promote your Flash Briefing Skill(s) the same way you promote all of your other content. Post about it on social media, add links to it from your blog, and email your list.

You can also promote the individual segments you produce. Write enticing headlines and teasers about the content to encourage people to add your skill to their briefing.

  • Remember is that Flash Briefings are compiled every day, and only content for that day will be included. Your first briefing is going to be played by Alexa once and then your content won’t be played until you upload a new one.
  • Keep your segments short, and make sure they are good quality audio. You don’t want to be the lowest quality host in someone’s morning news report, and you don’t want to be the one who drones on and on. Keep things short, punchy, and interesting.
  • You also won’t know who you’re sharing a stage with so abandon best practices and just be yourself. No one else can be you (or your boss or your client) so use that to your advantage.
  • Keep SEO in mind. You’ll have space for a good number of keywords, and people will use them to find the skills they want to learn about.
  • Have some fun with it. This is a cool, exciting new medium and it can be a way for you to experiment with different kinds of content and gain new audience reach.

The technical side of things

Here are a few resources to get you started:

Are you planning to use Flash Briefings in 2019?

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks. A version of this article originally appeared on the Spin Sucks blog.

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