Last winter, social media lit up with a mysterious posting of an audio book titled “The Mueller Report” — with a Spring publish date on Amazon.
Speculation ran rampant in political Facebook groups that this was an Easter egg, and that Audible had insider knowledge of the dropping of the Mueller Report. Of course, this was not at all what was happening. Audible laid plans to make sure people had access to the report, and knew that interest was high.
The company played into the paranoiac political atmosphere by dropping it in the list of titles with little fanfare, choosing to leave questions open by the reader, who wanted to play cloak-and-dagger. The Mueller Report was the most hotly anticipated document in news, and had captured the interest of the United States like no fictional political thriller had.
If rumors were edible
People were devouring any rumors of any information Mueller was working on, and this was no exception. When were we going to hear actual news instead of rumor? Audible was on it. The company knew it could use its brand knowledge to create buzz for a dry political report — therefore making it trendy. But would “trendy” translate to people actually reading the report?
Audible has a history of publishing reports, and making them accessible to everyone. The company have published the 9/11 Report as well as the Pope’s Report on climate change. Audible appears to believe access to information should be both free and accessible. Anyone can download the Mueller Report at no charge.
The company has also, somehow, managed to do this while not incurring wrath on social media — which, under the circumstances, is pretty remarkable. It’s also easily digestible, and well produced, which makes the legalese easier to understand.
There is one problem
People are more likely to be arguing over the Mueller Report than reading it. This is in large part because legal reports are unwieldy in the best of circumstances, but Audible does a really good job of editorializing context, and making the report accessible. Nonetheless, there is a lack of interest in the actual “consuming.”
There is a certain cachet to having bought the Report, but how many read it? Not many. But the takeaway here is that a company with major reach to consumers not only marketed and produced the Mueller Report. It actually did it for free for anyone who wants to download it. That probably deserves note.
In general, we are seeing an uptick in people’s thirst for information and we are struggling with trust in the era of “fake news.” Non traditional news sources are now the norm, and this is an effective way to make news available. Audible took an opportunity to fill that space.