20 February 2023


Also Known As: Zine

Problem: Customers are always surprised to hear of news about the product/service over social media and not from the company itself. You want to find ways to give them better opportunities to hear the news directly from the company, without coming across as "spammy" or "in your face", which could turn customers off.

Context: Developers often want to know about new features, but they want to know about them on their own time, and not have the news forced on them.

Solution: Create a periodic newsletter that is emailed to an opt-in list of customers and/or other developers, consisting of a mix of technical articles about your product/service, news about your product/service, and wider news about the technical domain your product/service is in. (For example, if your product/service is a financial services service/API, then periodically share major news about the larger financial services cloud space.)

Consequences: Keeping the rhythm of the newsletter going is crucial, and managing the pipeline of content is a major task. Consider hiring a technical writer to assist with the creation of articles and news, and/or a copyeditor to help with proofreading and "tone" of the articles. In addition, consider hiring an editor to oversee the newsletter full-time, including the process of acquiring new content for the pipeline. Also, start with a period that is far enough apart to allow for steady publication (every other month or quarterly is not unusual as a starting point) until you have enough content for six months' worth of publication, and only then "compress" the period down (quarterly to twice-quarterly, then monthly, then twice-monthly, then weekly, and so on). Regardless of how much content you have, don't go faster than your editorial process can handle.

Finding that content on a regular basis can be difficult, particularly if your DevRel team is occupied with other tasks. Look to other engineers within the company who are interested in growing their individual brands (and make sure to provide them with "bylines"--author credit--on any piece they write), as well as to your Ambassadors. Many of the articles written here could be repurposed into (or from) another Article, but make sure to check with the third-party publisher for any concerns of exclusivity--many publishers want to be the only source of original content for some period of time before allowing re-publication.

Keep in mind that commitments to publication from employees at your company other than your DevRel team are likely to be secondary commitments (when compared to their "day jobs"), and be prepared for deadlines to be missed. You might be able to get other managers to help their employees keep to their commitments, but remember that they usually have differing goals than your team does, so be flexible.

Newsletters are an excellent way to advertise upcoming Conference Sessions, as well as to announce any particularly relevant Samples/Examples that relate to the news or articles included in this newsletter. (For this reason, even if you hire an editor, consider strongly having one of your Dev Advocates do a technical-review pass on each newsletter and suggest relevant items.) Make sure to reference your newsletters from your Social Media, Live Streaming, and/or Podcast, and vice versa.

As you build out your User Group Network, consider offering opportunities for each user group to put an "advertisement" into a newsletter, as a way of increasing user group attendance, particularly those in major cities.


Tags: devrel   patterns