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Proposal: Guidelines for Writing a Press Release

Note: This is a proposal that is currently discussed by the TWikiCommunity. Please join the TWikiCommunitySummit2008Q1 in mid Februray to help finalize this guideline.

It's very difficult to write a press release for TWiki, given the number of interested parties. Whatever you write, you risk offending someone. These guidelines are designed to help press release authors avoid the most obvious gaffes.
  1. Don't use press releases for advertising, either personal or commercial. TWiki press releases are for OSS project use only.
  2. Avoid acknowledging individual contributors. Many people contribute to TWiki, and you will always risk offending someone.
  3. Try to get a user quote in support of what you are saying, but make sure that user is treated as a main stakeholder.
  4. Make sure the release is available for a reasonable time for community review, and that the main stakeholders are happy, before it is sent.

-- Contributors: CrawfordCurrie

Discussion

Good start. Above proposal makes good sense for developers, but it misses the key point: How to draw attention in the split second a journalist looks at a press release, and how to get more press coverage. As such, the guidelines should be written by a marketeer, such as Michael Corbett. The community misses opportunities by not allowing company names to be mentioned. Look at this from 30,000 feet above ground. Let the ecosystem grow, don't limit it!

We can define as many guidelines the community feels is needed. I think there is also a balance, if we delegate and if trust is high we do not need to define guidelines for each and every thing we do.

I encourage everyone to make best efforts to join the TWikiCommunitySummit2008Q1 in mid February where we can discuss and agree on what concerns us, from small guidelines like this one to big items.

-- PeterThoeny - 24 Jan 2008

Trust is low. We need these guidelines. Excellent initiative Crawford.

-- KennethLavrsen - 24 Jan 2008

I think it's an excellent idea for a marketer to write these guidelines; I don't really know where to start with this sort of thing. But we need guidelines or there is a risk of misinterpretation in the future as well. Aside from anything else, how can someone new contribute unless they know the framework their contribution has to sit within?

-- CrawfordCurrie - 24 Jan 2008

I think that there are two issues here.

  1. - What are the guidelines for our community making any public statement, press release or otherwise.
  2. - What's the best way to write a press release.

Let's deal with the second one first. In terms of guidelines there are lots of on-line tutorials etc for writing a press release. The main skill, as Peter points out, relates to writing the release in such a way that it will interest people such that they will report it. Writing guidelines for that aspect is difficult. It mainly relies on experience but equally important is to know both the product and the readership. Regarding the readership: its a fact of life that people are interested in people and that's why press releases are full of quotes from people or references to people or anything else to do with people. That’s the reason why my initial press release (before it was altered in response to the uproar) mentioned Crawford. (And the reason why I mentioned Crawford was that he had had a hand in the WYSIWYG editor which was the main thrust of the press release.)

The first issue is the complicated one - and it is also the most important one. How do we, as a community, decide on the official messages (such as press releases) that come from our community. Crawford sensibly adds the guideline about “a reasonable time” but I think that without a proper decision making process it could take an unreasonable amount of time to arrive at concensus. And, when consensus comes, its probably going to be a watered down communication which, in the case of a press release, would make it bland and un newsworthy. And therefore worthless.

I don’t want to sound like a broken record but we really need to look at governance issues. Discussion in other threads (such as TWikiFoundation) are just symptomatic of this need. I was hoping that CommerceAndCommunity might be a place to discuss governance issues but I think that I might be shouting in an empty room here.

-- MichaelCorbett - 24 Jan 2008

Another thought that might have been helpfull: get consent from those you portray in the press release before sending it out.

-- KoenMartens - 24 Jan 2008

Was that the problem???

-- KennethLavrsen - 24 Jan 2008

If you are talking about me using Crawford's name in the press release then definitely no! Of course I checked it was OK. And I'm sure Peter checked out the Nokia quote.

Can we move on please?

-- MichaelCorbett - 24 Jan 2008

Remember. Next press release will be for 5.0. That is probably a year from now. We can practice writing these for a long time and make some proposals and mistakes without harming any people or animals. There is no urgency smile

-- KennethLavrsen - 24 Jan 2008

There is some urgency, insofar as I want to see at least outline guidelines and processes in place before I will consider contributing to the core again. I need something to calm my nerves.

-- CrawfordCurrie - 25 Jan 2008

History clearly shows that this is an item that easily reproduces itself at every release - whatever means can be applied to avoid the "just-in-time"-fights we are getting used to see should be applied, imho.

So talking about history - what other fights do we see after a release? Historically, the next "fight" will be where and when twiki.org should be upgraded - the fight is usually about what "must haves" must be in place before an upgrade can take place.

I am unsure if not both issues could benefit by specifying in the guideline that the press release goes out only after twiki.org is upgraded.

It would probably assist us in finding more embarrassing bugs like Bugs:Item5287 up front, but more importantly it would be motivating in upgrading twiki.org to those keen on having the press release out early.

Just an idea.

-- SteffenPoulsen - 25 Jan 2008

Well. With respect to twiki.org.

We all know that new hardware and rack space is about to be provided. I normally put pressure on to get t.o. updated even before the release but this time it makes sense to wait for the new hardware, install a fresh 4.2.0 on it - using the standard layout from INSTALL.html and migrating the current webs to it one by one.

I will even say - put it online on the side and let Arthur and Carlo put up the entry level pages without the stress of having a live site.

Crawford. Tension has been too high. Just wait for a few weeks. Focus on the bug reports that come in, enjoy that 4.2.0 is finally out, take it easy, kiss the wife a little extra. That is what I do now. We deserve to gear down for a while for a job well done.

-- KennethLavrsen - 25 Jan 2008

I like Kenneth Idea of having a break with an update till we got our new entry pages layed out, but note that this will take some time...

-- CarloSchulz - 25 Jan 2008

OK, I'm quite happy to put this on the back burner until t.o is sorted out; as I said above, I am only interested in stopping the fights from happening in the first place. The priority for the project right now is to get t.o "fixed".

-- CrawfordCurrie - 26 Jan 2008

Kenneth: the next press release probably won't be for 5.0. I am going to be announcing the YouTube contest soon and I'll be wanting to issue a press release for that.

Steffen: I think a contributing factor to the "fights" is that we don't have a decision making process in TDO for the big issues. A Governance Mechanism is surely what we need here. I know it sounds boring, I know it sounds hard but we really need it!

-- MichaelCorbett - 26 Jan 2008

Agreed on the needed part. - What does TDO mean?

-- SteffenPoulsen - 26 Jan 2008

TWiki Dot Org, I would guess.

  • Thanks. Goes well with DTO, then (develop.twiki.org). -- SteffenPoulsen - 26 Jan 2008

-- CrawfordCurrie - 26 Jan 2008

Michael: I have understood the YouTube contest as funded and initiated by TWIKI.NET and not twiki.org. I would expect you to send that out as a clean cut TWIKI.NET press release. It is by the way a GREAT initiative that also benefits the open source community.

-- KennethLavrsen - 26 Jan 2008

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Topic revision: r20 - 2008-01-26 - SteffenPoulsen
 
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