A few months ago, I said I would take a look at how the Ubuntu Community Marketing Team could make itself more open to new people wanting to give back to Ubuntu. I'm here to offer my proposal as an idea I think can help not only the new, but make the entire group work better together.
These ideas in no way are meant to criticize anyone's hard work or commitment that has already been put into the group, simply to find out how we can all make the group better in the days ahead.
The first thing I noticed when I got here a few years ago was that the Ubuntu Community Marketing Team doesn't have any sort of centralized management. Shortly thereafter, an older gentleman recommended the idea and it was shot down as being "opposed to the democracy of open source."
In my analysis, I also found:
- Signing up for projects in Marketing is cumbersome.
- Finding information on those projects is cumbersome.
- Wikis are being used beyond the boundaries of their suited purpose for project management.
- There is no simple path for a new user to get from Marketing into selecting a project task that they can contribute to.
- "Mob Rule" mentality leaves the group in a structural vacuum without the ability to progress the group as a whole, only in individual tasks and projects.
I feel the best way for the Ubuntu Community Marketing Team to address these problems is to handle its business with more project management, similar to the software development cycle implementation that coincides with Ubuntu Releases.
To that effect, I think Marketing needs to be broken up into four separate aspects that as a whole make up the activities, roles, guidelines, etc. the Ubuntu Community Marketing Team should be fulfilling.
Each area is vitally important to the livelihood of the Marketing Team, and each area requires different talents and resources in order to achieve its goal.
The strength of any project lies within the effort and care used when planning and building its foundation. Defining the Structure of Ubuntu Community Marketing would make this area responsible for a lot of the minutiae involved in bridging the gaps between multiple projects, messages, distributions, and areas outside of Ubuntu. Initially, Structure should be responsible for:
- Setting the "message" that needs to be the focus of each release
- Helping projects that have a relationship work together
- Unifying the communication between Development and Marketing
- Delivering detailed project plans, tasks, and ideas
- Getting resources to projects that should have our support
- Providing access and information upstream and downstream
- Continue to refine the overall infrastructure of the Marketing team
Once the ideas are on paper, its time to let the artists, wordsmiths, and even the programmers take over! Creation is the production facility that takes the raw product that comes out of structure and refines it into beautiful media that represents Ubuntu well.
The first major paradigm change, The arm of Ubuntu dedicated to Art should be rolled into this area. After all, the look and feel of Ubuntu itself is our largest marketing tool, and its important that we foster some of the talent in those areas into helping with other things.
Creation encompasses wallpapers, logos, themes, fliers, posters, banner advertisements, badges, commercials, point of purchase displays, how-to videos, blog postings, press releases, and so much more.
Every piece, byte, and graphic should be uploaded, indexed, and hosted on a site such as what's been done with SpreadUbuntu.
When we are armed with the latest produced materials, its time to go out and spread the word. Ubuntu will be at its strongest when the boots on the ground in the grassroots movement are out there with the proper support from an Ubuntu Community Marketing Team that is arming them with the knowledge and the sound bites that matter most to the public they face.
Cultivating is done every time we get together, open our mouthes to someone who has yet to hear about Ubuntu, or even those times when we simply share our excitement with one another.
Blogs, public events, release parties, meet-ups, posting on community forums (Ubuntu's or another), your posts on social media...all of these contribute to the cultivation of our unified voice. The work the LoCos do is a HUGE part of this cultivation, and we should be offering all of the support we can.
The final arm of the Community Marketing Structure is support. After everything is said and done, there is a need for resources dedicated to making sure Ubuntu lives up to its potential and its existing reputation. In many ways, this step reinforces the roots in a way that none of the other aspects truly can.
We need to make sure the new users we bring in have a clearly delineated user support system that helps them get started and addresses the questions they may have when they come up. We need to make sure we are all staying on message. We need to make sure new projects get the exposure they need to get the resources they may be required. Finally, we need to make sure that distributions both upstream and downstream from Ubuntu benefit from from our work, and hopefully we can provide them with templates and tools useful for them to carve out their own niche.
Restructuring the Community Marketing team in this way would allow for new volunteers' talents to be used more quickly and much more succinctly than we have ever before. Once you have structure in place, I recommend realigning the Marketing materials on the wiki to provide those people interested in helping with the exposure of Ubuntu a clear path to getting into projects right away. This could consist of easier navigation paths, more simplistic explanations of tasks available, and project and task templates to showcase exactly what needs to be done more quickly.
In order to achieve this goal, I do think that the community would best be served by a committee of volunteers that help to undergo the transition. There are some brilliant minds and strong willed leaders here who could help either with a plan like this or any other, and I think without their direction or any change in the status quo, the Ubuntu Marketing Community will continue to underachieve. Its my belief that the best way to handle this would be to have members submit the names of candidates and then have the group as a whole vote 3-5 of them into a committee. That way, representative democracy could be achieved, and everyone would feel that they had a voice in the proceedings.
I look forward to furthering the word of Ubuntu behind your leadership and direction so we can begin to truly change the way the world thinks about their choices in the world of computers. I hope you realize that every one of you is capable of leading this charge and you have the power to make change happen right here, right now, and for the better.
Good luck, and I wish you all the very best! John Vilsack 24-Feb-10