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Laura Santamaria
Laura Santamaria

Posted on • Originally published at on

DevRel Strategy

Here's a quick view of my take on developer relations strategy.

I was chatting about DevRel and community strategy with some folks at DevOpsDays Houston after my keynote earlier this week, and I promised I'd write a bit about how I view strategy. The key thing about strategy to me is providing a framework for evaluation of tactics.

Strategy is a definition of risk valuation and reward opportunities across multiple focus areas. If you're defining strategy simply by naming a bunch of tactics, you're missing out on the creativity boost a good strategy framework can provide for a devrel team. Developer relations opportunities can appear and disappear quickly, like a collaboration proposed during a hallway discussion at a conference or a last-minute invitation to be on a livestream or podcast. You need to empower your devrel team to make decisions quickly and decisively. Strategy provides the framework to make swift decisions that benefit the company and the community as a whole.

A good devrel strategy explains what risk your company can handle for different focus areas. For example, a speaking engagement requiring expensive travel is high risk. To make it worthwhile, the reward for the company and the community should be as high or better. Maybe that means you get to reach a lot of people. Maybe that means you're reaching a new, very receptive community with a talk that will teach a lot to that community. You'll need to define that reward level for your company and communities. Conversely, a low risk opportunity may also be low reward and not worth the time. A generic blog post that isn't saying anything new might be low risk, but it also does nothing for the community (and so never benefits the company, either). If you can define the levels of risk your company can take with the reward levels you want to reach, you don't need to map out a bunch of tactics (the actions you'll take to reach a goal). Instead, you can map out a few and hunt for unique opportunities along the way.

By using a true strategy framework instead of defining a bunch of tactics, you open up the door for creative ideas—the kinds of things that catapult your devrel program to new heights—to flourish. So the next time you find yourself in a planning session, ask: Are you defining strategy or tactics? You'll surprise yourself what you can come up with when you have the mental space to innovate and evaluate those innovations (and prove value quickly to your leadership).

(I originally put this up as a thread on Twitter, in case you want to explore the original.)

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