Meet Brian Douglas


Meet Brian Douglas

How did you first get into DevRel?

I was an engineer at Netlify working on interesting problems and had always leveraged my personal blog and Twitter to share what I learned recently. Netlify gave me an opportunity to do that on a growing brand, which eventually proved to be a great way to attract users. I eventually transitioned to writing content full-time while continuing to help out with features. Netlify calls this model Developer Experience today. 

Why does your company do DevRel?

GitHub does not have an awareness problem or even an adoption problem. DevRel at GitHub is instead focused on solving very specific problems for developers in regards to collaboration, open source, etc.

My role is really to be a developer that is connected through communities. When GitHub announces new or updated features, my connection to the community is valuable in distributing and receiving information. Our Product and Marketing teams do an excellent job with the awareness, but DevRel is always around for the connections that drive engagement for these features. 

How does DevRel work at your company?

The DevRel team at GitHub sits within the Product organization and we are involved in the roadmap and discovery meetings. We assist in providing feedback and source early beta or alpha users for new features and assist in driving awareness towards existing features.

Our strategy is to assist in finding new stories for our features and sharing them broadly through conference talks, live-streams, and now TikTok.  

And what role do you play in your company’s DevRel?

Today I am the Director of Developer Advocacy. I oversee content creation strategy and ensure we are connected with Product Managers and Engineers while doing it. 

What’s your DevRel philosophy?

I made a joke at a previous conference about being the Beyoncé of GitHub and I still stand by that. I believe the best DevRel practitioners are those that emerge and participate in the community.

Everyone wants to be the keynote, but very few are out creating new keynote speakers and it is on us to identify a future Beyoncé in the crowd and give them a chance through community contributions or junior positions.

What challenges do you see for DevRel right now?

As we continue to be in wait and see mode for travel and events, I think developer relations is at a cross roads between “What we know that works” and “What we know we need to do differently”.

Prior to COVID-19 a proven strategy was to get your team at events through sponsorship and public speaking. With the absence of a large in-person event scene, it has seen the industry shifting towards new channels. Some teams have been successful and others have not. I think finding a balance between remote and in-person will be a huge challenge as teams double down on content creation and remote strategies.  

What are you hopeful about in DevRel?

I am hoping DevRel emerges from this current environment with a new approach towards community interaction and engagement. Though they have proven to be valuable, I don’t think there is a need for every DevRel team to host streams and Discords. I would love DevRel to invest in communities by producing content for organizations that were doing remote and async community before there was a need. One example would be FreeCodeCamp. 


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