As part of our preparations for the Fedora 13 cycle, the Marketing team is (still) learning how to answer the all-important question:

"So, what do you folks do, anyway?"

A way to understand the things we're doing is to think of Marketing as working in 3 stages, roughly corresponding to (the time leading up to) Alpha, (the time leading up to) Beta, and (the time leading up to) GA day. That sounds incredibly boring, so cue the dancing penguins...

Alpha: focus on tools. (For F13, that's pre-March 2nd, 2010.)

The dancing penguins sing: "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." --Abraham Lincoln

The dancing penguins sing: "We need a better lyricist / a lyricist, oh, oh, oh"

We're beginning the release cycle by concentrating on infrastructure, tools, resources, and knowledge that will make it easier for us to produce our release deliverables. The most visible-outside-the-Marketing-team projects from this part of the cycle are the tools - working with other teams on getting limesurvey (with Infrastructure, for marketing research) and zikula (with Docs, News, Websites, Infrastructure, and Design, for publishing marketing materials on Fedora Insight) up and running in production, and developing fedora-tour.

Design drafts for the fedora-tour interface - it's only been a few weeks since Ryan and Ankur started,
and they're doing a fantastic job of both getting lots of good work done rapidly and being transparent about the work they're doing so others can jump in to help. Come to think of it, the second probably helps the first...

Somewhat more behind-the-scenes, we're writing up SOPs (how-to instructions) for our deliverables, planning our first Marketing FAD, working with John Poelstra on our F13 schedule (this is the start of our 3rd release cycle with a schedule at all!), reviewing our Join process and new-member queue, updating our wiki page (thanks to Tatica for the new logo and banner!), looking back and learning from how the F12 cycle went, and much, much more. It's not that this is our static to-do list - it's more like "we're improvising in this general direction, and this is what we're working on at this particular point in time," so anyone who's interested is more than welcome to jump in.

Beta: focus on deliverables. (For F13, that's March 3rd - April 6, 2010.)

This is our time to focus on deliverables, deliverables, and deliverables. One deliverable at a time, with lots of collaborative work-sprint sessions scheduled on IRC. Our list this time:

  • Talking points
  • Release slogan
  • Feature profiles (there will be multiple feature profiles)
  • Screenshots library
  • One-page release notes

Well, okay. Technically, we're going to do the talking points and release slogan before March 3rd, as soon as the features list comes out. And the screenshots library won't be finished until right before release so we can get the newest screenshots in, meaning the one-page release notes' screenshots will also be replaced by new images right at the last minute. But the bulk of deliverables work will be done during this time, working closely with the Desktop team (particularly for feature profiles), and taking advantage of our spiffy new toolset from Alpha to push deliverables out on Fedora Insight as they come along.

Fedora Insight, under construction. As you can see, we have... a lot of work left to do before launch. But! This is where F13 release deliverables will come out once they're made.

Also in this time period: working with Ambassadors to brief both Ambassadors and the press, which probably includes such thing as "writing a press release" as part of gearing up for the next phase. Marketing research will almost certainly be running in parallel with this timeframe if limesurvey is up; we want to be closer to both users and developers this cycle. Deliverables, however, are going to be our primary focus, and the first real test of our SOPs. We hope to set an example of how other teams can work through the same set of instructions to make marketing deliverables for their own projects (Spins, etc.) and I'm guessing we'll be working out a lot of bugs in those instructions as we go along. Whee!

The first Marketing FAD will also happen during this period - deliverables work will still be continuing over this time (for instance, I'll still be sectioning out some hours on Tuesday afternoon for our usual IRC meeting and sprinting on whatever deliverable we're working on that week) but the FAD itself will concentrate on Making Things - perhaps the Handbook, or any of those other projects we keep thinking would be a great idea, but have never quite cleared the time to sit down and finish. (But hey, that's what a FAD is for!)

GA: Focus on PR and new contributors. (For F13, that's April 7 - May 11, 2010.)

Since we'll be loading our deliverable work between Alpha and Beta, we should be able to breathe easy during this time. Hypothetically. In any case, we shouldn't be running down the hallways yelling "AAAAH! DELIVERABLES NOT YET DONE!!!" (Which is amusing, but not... optimal.) Anyway, what the deliverables frontloading means is that we can concentrate on 2 things - the first, and obvious one, is Public Relations (PR) - working with Ambassadors on getting stuff out to journalists and monitoring the press we're getting. Things like Kara Schiltz's Classroom on how to monitor PR for a release are going to be extremely helpful for this.

The second thing is something we haven't gotten much of a chance to do before, which is to go into outreach mode as a team to specifically focus on helping other groups within Fedora with their Marketing and PR. This is in contrast to the single month between Alpha and Beta that we're spending in Deliverables Mode - that month will be extremely Desktop focused because we need to have one really good example done, this period is "okay, we've done it, we know how to do it, let's go do it everywhere!" For instance, if a SIG wants one-page release notes for their spin, we should be able to use our F13 one-page release notes and the SOP as examples to help them make their own. Or if a team wants to present its setup at an upcoming conference, we can help them figure out press targets and talking points, again using our own Desktop-focused work as an example. Cool. Want to see something even cooler?

The really interesting part of going into Outreach Mode - and the one I'm most excited about because I have no idea what it will look like - is being able to help other teams with capacity-building. This needs to start with a lot of watching and listening and asking other teams what they need, but here's the general idea: One of the big opportunities we frequently miss in Fedora is the chance to help new contributors get started - we get to help a lot of awesome new folks start, but we miss many, many more. Why? Because new contributors want to come when it's exciting. And when it's exciting is when we're really, really busy - around release day. Generally, new people come in when the teams they're trying to join don't have much bandwidth to on-board them, but when you're new, you want to know right away how to get started helping - you want immediate feedback that this is a community you want to stay in and contribute to.

And that's the gap I'd like to try and bridge. I'm willing to bet that if we were more conscious about reaching out to help new Fedora contributors get started via the press we're already going to be doing, we'd have a lot more people to help us out for the next release cycle. We do a lot of this outreach already - Ambassadors do it constantly at events, we all welcome new people on mailing lists and IRC - but but we could use more capacity to work on growing capacity, because in Fedoraland, contributions are our currency. This is the "sustainability" part.

Open source marketing is the community-driven process responsible for enabling users to identify, anticipate, and satisfy their own requirements sustainably. -- "what's open source marketing?" definition draft

We could do things here like working on the Join processes for different teams, publicizing (on Fedora Insight, etc) good starter opportunities for new contributors to help with... maybe working with the Classroom group, where they'd set up training opportunities for different skills each team needs, and we could get new folks and point them there... Again, I'm thinking out loud here - we don't know what this will look like, it's very vague and fuzzy right now, and we need to do a lot of listening and working with other Fedora teams to figure this out together, and be on top of our game so we can have the ability to do this, but I wanted to give a heads-up on where we're looking for that far horizon. And boy, am I looking forward to seeing what it'll look like when we get there.

So that's the gameplan.

In summary

  1. Alpha: focus on tools.
  2. Beta: focus on deliverables.
  3. GA: focus on GREAT AWESOME. (Which is what GA stands for, right? Right? No, Mel, it's General Availability. Oh. I still like this one better.)

Traceback: this came from a long IRC braindump which came from a topic at the last Marketing meeting which came from discussions on the marketing list which came from... well, I lose the traceback at that point, but you get the point; momentum builds momentum, and sometimes cool things come out.

Thoughts? Questions? Feedback? Clarifications? Tomatoes?

Grape tomatoes / Tomates miniatura / Tomates en grappe / Cocktailtomaten, auch Kirschtomaten oder Cherrytomaten, photo CC-BY-SA by Softeis via Wikimedia Commons - please throw if needed.

And yes, the obligatory call for participation - you, too, can join us!