since September 28th, 2010, everyone of you has done a fantastic job, invested a tremendous amount of work, and has been contributing a lot to make LibreOffice what it is today -- a software used worldwide, a well-recognized brand, and a name people trust in, something that stands for free software, open standards and a major productivity suite.

Many of you have recognized that we have not yet set-up fixed community roles, official titles or named team leads. This has been on purpose, to not create fixed structures from the beginning, and I have a feeling we are performing very well with this approach. In the next months, I am sure that we will see some more structure growing, but I hope it will not be as diverse and large as we had it with OpenOffice.org -- to me, the "flat" approach we are following at LibreOffice works very well and keeps lowering barriers for people joining the community. When many people contribute their amazing talent, creativity and a lot of time, it is not necessary to have too many different "hierarchies" in the project.

However, there is one area where we should move forward and work for more structures, and that is marketing.

Those who have been involved with OpenOffice.org remember our so-called "MarCons", the marketing contacts, and I would like to start building something similar in the LibreOffice community. We had various discussions on the marketing mailing list on this topic, and there is a common agreement that this approach is worth a try. For those who don't remember, have a look at this page: http://marketing.openoffice.org/contacts.html Don't be irritated by the fact that some well-known LibreOffice people are still listed, it seems that nobody updated the page since September...

So, in the following paragraphs, let me elaborate a bit on how things work today, and what I would like to achieve for the future.

At the moment, there are four official press and media contacts for The Document Foundation named at http://www.documentfoundation.org/contact/. Although these contacts have not been officially voted on, but rather had to be set in-place before the day of our launch, I would like to keep them in charge for the moment. I neither do want to add many more people to this list of TDF spokespeople, as these should speak officially on behalf of the future *Foundation*, and by that also representing the *legal* *entity*, which is a wide field that might right out the project and the community. The final compilation of official spokespeople, as outlined in our Bylaws in the officers section, will be the decision of the future Board of Directors, so the above thoughts are, of course, only a recommendation from my side to the future BoD keep that list of names rather small.

What I want to do is to have a strong and solid network of marketeers for the *LibreOffice* project. They do not represent the Foundation as legal entity, but even more do represent the Community, the project and the product.

So, in a nutshell, I am aiming for a distinction between the Foundation's official spokespeople, and the LibreOffice project's spokespeople. The rationale behind this is that in the future, the Foundation might have several projects, each with their own contacts.

Ideally, for every international projects that we currently have - http://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Local_Mailing_Lists - we should find at least two community representatives, ideally even three. They will be listed on an official website, should get some official title that we still can decide on ("Marketing Contact" might be a good choice, but I'm open to other solutions), be elegible to use LibreOffice business cards, and will be the first point of contact for any marketing, PR or journalist-related inquiries in their area. So, while not legally representing the Foundation, those contacts should be recognized as officially spokespeople for the project and the community.

Their list of tasks is wide and interesting, like organization of trade shows, translating press releases, giving interviews and answering journalist questions. They will also have many important duties inside the project, the most important one being a "gateway" between the international marketing of LibreOffice and the local marketing, communicating ideas in both directions and giving feedback. Marketing heavily depends on the market and the area, and the better everyone understands the situation of different areas, the more we can improve our global marketing efforts.

Of course, and especially since this is a volunteer job, nobody has to do the job alone. ;-) The most important is that there are trusted contacts in each region who have an overview what is going on, who are willing to coordinate things, and who can also cry for help in case things do not work out the way they plan. Challenges and tasks will heavily differ between various regions, but the core set of todos will be rather similar.

In order to make that magic happen, I also aim for improving the communication between the various international groups. One proposal that we currently investigate is to transform the marketing conference calls into some sort of monthly updates on what is going on in the community. We will also ensure that all marketing contacts will receive press releases before they are made public, so they have enough time to translate them or, see above, search for another volunteer to do the translation.

Before I start writing an encyclopedia on community marketing and make everybody tired, I have some tasks for you. ;-)

I would like to ask everyone to discuss this idea on their local mailing lists in their native language (feel free to translate my e-mail if you want), and to hear what they are thinking. Share this idea with them, let us know their questions, feedback, ideas and of course constructive criticism, and ask if you have some people on the list who would be willing to serve as marketing contacts. Ideally, we find a good combination of newcomers and experts, in order to help new contributors join our marketing efforts, while having experienced colleagues at their side, helping them to find their way.

I will try to draw some graph illustrating my ideas and put it into the wiki.

Ideally, the local groups will propose candidates and have a vote on them in the neat future, and we then can start a kick-off meeting via Skype, phone, or even face to face in Paris.

I would be honoured to work with a strong network of marketeers to shape the future of LibreOffice, and I look forward to your feedback!


Florian Effenberger <flo...@documentfoundation.org>
Steering Committee and Founding Member of The Document Foundation
Tel: +49 8341 99660880 | Mobile: +49 151 14424108
Skype: floeff | Twitter/Identi.ca: @floeff

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