Developer Advocacy
Get executive buy-in or else
Jessica West, who heads up developer relations for LaunchDarkly, lays out the importance to any developer relations programme of having the support and commitment of the company’s leadership.

  • Three types of executives
    • They get it.
    • Middle ground.
    • No clue.
  • Implement Strategy
    • Program your initiatives
    • Creating measurements
    • Communication
  • The key is that you need to understand your value to the executive team.
    • Then you need to use that to measure against their priorities.
  • Defining executive buy-in
    • Looks different for a lot of places.
    • For the purpose of this talk, executive buy-in is an executive that understands your goals at a high level and advocates for you.
    • Not only defends you but advocates for you and says yes I understand what this person is doing, here’s the value they bring in, and I am behind it 100%.
  • Questions to ask executives
    • Overall value.
    • Success Factors
    • Teamwork
    • Communication

  • They get it.
    • They’re on your page.
    • They have a clear plan, there’s no question on budget or initiatives.
    • They’re all in.
  • Middle ground.
    • Understand developer relations.
    • They think it’s a cool thing, I’ve heard it and they’re “bought-in” and I do quotes and we’ll talk about that in a minute.
  • No clue.
    • They’re not quite sure what they need
    • “Dev rel” and they’re like “Yeah I don’t know. I don’t need to talk about that”.

  • How do you maintain buy-in and make sure there is no single point of failure?
  • Because yes they bought in but it doesn’t mean they’re always going to be bought in.
  • How can you maintain it?
    • Communication
    • Internal evangelism
  • Create a Roadbook for your future advocates so they know when they come in.
  • What does it mean to be an onboarding developer advocate at your specific company?

  • Ultimately you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle, and if your executive doesn’t have that buy-in, there’s not a lot of point for anything else. -- look for another job. ~ Speaker’s opinion.

  • Where a lot of developer relations departments and teams are right now.
  • The executive is there, they’ve heard of it.
  • How do we measure and execute? Not sure, kind of in-between space.
  • Ask more questions.
  • Make a clear path to align company values with yours.
  • Discussing what success factors look like for that department.
  • Communication, Teamwork, and ultimately, some strategy questions.

  • “Why do you think developer relations are important?
  • What value do you think it brings?
  • What are you looking to get out of dev rel?”
  • If the answer’s “I don’t know”. --- maybe it’s time for another job search.
  • If you have that question and they say they saw another company doing it and that’s the only reason they have, that’s a warning sign.

  • What does a successful dev rel person or team look like?
  • “How are you measuring success?”
    • And not just in developer relations but in the whole company.
    • How are they measuring success for Engineering? For Marketing? For Sales?
  • What does success look like to the board?

  • How is that divided amongst the whole company?
    • What does Marketing do, what do Sales do, what does BizDev, do you even have a BizDev?
    • Do you have a Customer Success team?
    • Do you have an Education team?
  • Changes in scale from companies from 0 to 50, 50 onwards and that could look different at one 50 person company to another, or even 1,000 person company.
  • How is the goal distributed?
  • And are stakeholders goals being represented around the team?
    • What goals are associated with them?
    • Are those goals then represented in your team?
    • How are they being found?
  • How do you currently communicate?
  • Are there newsletters that go internally? Externally? Is it all in a forum?
  • You can see how they communicate within departments and how you can communicate as a developer relations department.
  • How is communication handled between other departments?

  • Looks different for a lot of places.
  • For the purpose of this talk, executive buy-in is an executive that understands your goals at a high level and advocates for you.
  • Not only defends you but advocates for you and says yes I understand what this person is doing, here’s the value they bring in, and I am behind it 100%.

  • It is a tough place where people say “I believe in developer relations but I’m not quite sure how to measure and execute it”.
  • You might be going back and forth but you have a path and it may not always be clear.
  • Digging in and going back to those questions you have to ask the executive team.
  • Help start lining up your strategy and your goals.

  • Program your initiatives
    • Setting up programs for what you’re working on.
  • Creating measurements
    • What is it that you are measuring?
    • You need to set that measurement up. And with that reporting ideally. And then
  • Communication

  • Segmenting your developer relations teams or your developer relations initiatives into programs is really beneficial.
  • It May look like an ambassador program or a hackathon program,
  • Different types of events.
  • Education initiative.
  • Segment into programs and then you can have clear outcomes.

  • Developer Engagements
    • How many people were in your audience?
    • I’m giving a talk here so I can report back that x many people showed up and heard me speak.
  • Example - Goal as a company and we want to be in this forum, and we want to measure how many users are on there, and how many active users are there.

  • Communicate internally.
    • Because then nobody in your company knows what you did.
      • They think you’re doing work.
      • But you have to communicate that. And that may look different in a lot of different places.
  • Letting the company know what you’re working on is really key.
    • Important because they may not know and maybe they missed the email because we get a lot of them.
    • That’s really big and it won’t take much of your time.
  • Doing an internal wiki to showcase your work.
    • Have a homepage page that shows what we’re up to, here’s what we’re working on, and come talk to us about it.
  • Sitting in on other department meetings.
    • Coming into your partner department and going and asking what they’re up to.
    • Learning about what they are working on once a month or whatever that cadence looks like is really important.
  • Doing event recap internally and externally.
    • Do a quick recap on why you thought it was important for the developer community.
  • Team meetings
    • Having an open invitation for any department to come to join your teams.
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On this page
Three types of executives
They get it.
No Clue
Middle Ground
Questions to ask executives
Defining executive buy-in
How do you get executive buy-in?
Implement Strategy
Program your initiatives
Creating measurements