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Communicator of the Week: Amazon

4th December 2013


Any media story that someone dismisses as "just a PR stunt" immediately pricks my attention for further examination. I love stories like this as they are normally creative, inspiring and have the capacity to make people smile in equal measure.

The winner of this week's award managed all of these, as well as The Sun saying in their coverage that "we've checked the date. It's not April 1st." It most certainly isn't, it is December and the Christmas silly season is with us.

A short word on this media season, which is more intense than the summer silly season lasting a mere three weeks instead of the summer's six. A few years ago I managed to get the same story on the front page of two rival national newspapers on consecutive days. Some would argue that this only happened as everyone is so sozzled after their office Christmas party that no-one actually reads the papers. Well my cuttings didn't lie and a splash is a splash even if it is Christmas Eve.

So to this week's winner. Following on from the 'Black Friday' major shopping day in America was 'Cyber Monday' - the busiest online shopping day of the year - creating the perfect media narrative for Amazon to announce to the world their plans to launch a delivery service using unmanned aerial drones.

There were so many strands to the story that it really flew (sorry) and developed throughout the day through all media channels. It was reported as a straight news story by many with commentary provided by people as diverse as business analysts, drone designers, the Civil Aviation Authority, privacy campaigners and rival retailers.

It was the kind of story where people were able to have fun with their headlines and news copy with even the FT trying their hand with "Amazon drones face hurdles to get off the ground" .

Amazon had done the necessary preparatory work to give the story as much a chance of success by providing a film of an Amazon 'Octopter' making a delivery and included a customer clicking on a new option at the online checkout to opt for 'Prime Air' delivery within 30 minutes.

While some coverage included photo analysis of whether the idea was even possible, others pointed out Amazon's film had the drone flying across empty fields and Twitter shared a mock-up of what an Amazon missed delivery notice might look like in the future, the level of coverage and chatter about what is only an idea in development was mostly positive. It made me smile and for that I make Amazon my Communicator of the Week.

Communicator of the Week is written by Edward Staite



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