I was fortunate enough to attend Jennifer Cloer’s session at the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit earlier this month, and her talk Press Training for Community Projects was incredibly useful. Before I say anything else, I want to thank Jennifer profusely for taking time out of her very hectic schedule at the Collab Summit to help the community do a better job of marketing and outreach to the media. A big thank you Dave Neary, as well, for suggesting the session topic.
Joe Brockmeier has already penned a spectacular article summarizing key points from this talk, so my ability to add more value will be slight. For those interested in raw notes from the session, mine are hanging about on this Etherpad. I hope other attendees will be interested in adding their notes/thoughts to this resource.
Jennifer did an excellent job of focusing on the importance of key messages when doing outreach to the press. Taking the time to sit together and throw key messages at a white board, then whittling them down to the top 3 things you want a reporter to know about your latest announcement can be an incredibly valuable exercise even before you speak to a member of the press. These meetings can help build consensus within the community and will provide a great deal of fertile ground for other marketing efforts. Notice a point that lots of folks think is important that doesn’t make it into your top 3 messages? Great! There’s a follow up blog post just waiting to be written. Notice that there are differences of opinion around a particular key message? Wonderful! Follow up to build community consensus before going live with your announcement or choose a different key message entirely, one that resonates well with all of your project’s spokespeople.
Last but not least, I want to add to the chorus of voices noting that successful FOSS projects need effective marketing. I think some in our community continue to labor under the notion that marketing is done only by used car salesmen or other unsavory types, which is unfortunate. Marketing, done properly, is really about telling the story of what is important to you, as an individual and as a community. Telling that story well means that other people will want to join you around the proverbial campfire, listen as the next set of stories is told and add their voices to conversation.