Where Do We Go From Here? The next level of DevRel value


Matty Stratton

Job title

Director of Developer Relations




DevRelCon Prague 2022

DevRel teams are often an easy target for cuts when times are hard. In the closing keynote from DevRelCon Prague 2022, Matty highlights the importance, now more than ever, of demonstrating and amplifying DevRel’s impact through collaboration.

He shows how DevRel teams can continue to show their value by forging relationships with Marketing, Sales, Product, and reaching out to external partners for joint projects. Whether you’re an individual contributor or DevRel manager, Matty’s talk will leave you inspired for the challenge of facing DevRel during this potentially difficult economic period.

Watch the video on YouTube.

Key takeaways

  • In a downturn, things need to be done that require less imagination to see the value. Draw the connection clearly – don’t expect people (especially those making decisions on who can stay and who gets laid off) to see more nebulous or indirect value.
  • It is possible (and effective!) for DevRel to collaborate with and support the efforts of sales and marketing colleagues without comprising the “purity” of DevRel work
  • Collaboration with other teams doesn’t mean being a machine for requests. It’s a two-way street and we still need to set boundaries around how to do the work. These boundaries can and should be situational and nuanced.


Matty: So, Matthew invited me to give this talk and he said it’s kind of a tough time. We’re going to be talking about the downturn and everything. It would be really great if you could come and give an inspiring and energetic and uplifting talk to bring us out to all of that. Well, I’m sorry, Matthew, this is the reality. It’s rough out there right now. And one of the things I want us to think about is being in a downturn. It really changes the calculus of how we think about a lot of things.

There are ideas and statements and thoughts in this talk that I’ve been saying for years. But there’s also some things that you would not have heard come out of my mouth six months ago, right? I would’ve had a different discussion on many of these topics, even back in March. And that’s one of the things that’s just the reality of where we are right now. I’ve referred to myself before as the ‘cynical DevRel’. It’s kind of one of my brands. We talked a little bit earlier about having your brand. I guess my brand is that I’m a cynic. But when I talk about that, what do I mean by being the cynical DevRel? It’s this cognitive dissonance which is this idea that we’re holding two thoughts in our head at the same time. And it’s the cognitive dissonance between the idea that DevRel is good and pure and unsullied by filthy capitalism.

But at the same time, the company has to generate revenue and make money. And DevRel is part of that, right? And the thing, this is a wonderful thing, and the weird thing about cognitive dissonance is we as humans are actually capable of holding two conflicting ideas in our head at the same time. Generally, capitalism kind of sucks. I used to give a lot of talks. I used to be in the instant response space, and I would talk about, you know, there’s no root cause. Well, the only root cause is the Big Bang, or the root cause is capitalism. Well, that’s happening. We may not like it, but this is where we live. When I say this though, it doesn’t mean that this is all about the pursuit of the almighty dollar or the almighty euro or the almighty crown, but it’s still the way that we work for organisations.

There are exceptions, of course. You know, again, there’s always: ‘but Matty, I DevRel for a non-profit, I DevRel for a government agency’ or whatnot. You still have an end outcome that we’re going to. So when we kind of think about it, keeping my theme – I decided to kind of go for a little bit of a rock and roll theme through this talk, but I didn’t re-title it because that would’ve messed up the program, and we don’t want to do that. But when you think about it, we’re like: ‘okay, so who gets to stick around for the encore’, right? So we’re saying when we’re going to keep going, what are the things when we sit down and go to that? And here’s the thing, it’s like either you build the thing or you sell the thing, right? And you don’t have to do these things exactly.

I’m not saying that the only people that are around are people who are writing code for something that’s shipping or a sales executive or an account executive or whatnot. And, like everything else, there’s nuance to this. And it’s subtle. And I think as an individual, if you want to get yourself connected into these areas, either you’re building or selling, because the thing to remember is that if you’re not connected in a measurable way to either of these things, well then you’re pretty easy to get cut. And we’ve talked about that a little bit before. The important thing is connected. It doesn’t necessarily mean accountable as well. Not sitting there and saying that as DevRel you are fundamentally responsible for ARR or anything like that. But how can we connect those dots?

And one of the reasons that we kind of feel like this is counter, we don’t like thinking this way about DevRel, right? It’s rough. This is not why we do this. If we wanted to sell sh*t, we wouldn’t be in this job, right? And I spent a couple years doing DevRel at PagerDuty. I’m going to talk a little bit about that later. And I did a lot of work with our field and a lot of work with their sales, helping customers and things. And it never really did feel like it was bad or that I compromised my values. And I think a lot of the reason that we have a hard time with this is because it feels like we want our community to trust us, right? We’ve talked about this a lot. The value that we give, especially as advocates, is that we have the trust of our community and we have authority in that.

And we want our community to think that we’re impartial. Actually, we want to be impartial. We want them to say: ‘Hey, if I’m telling you do this thing, it’s because it’s the right thing. Not just because that’s who’s paying me. You can trust me because I’m not trying to sell you something’. And honestly, your title in your role actually does a lot more work about that than you think, you know. And again, it’s been discussed earlier talks, Brandon talked about it, there’s people who will just go block everybody on Twitter just because they have DevRel in their title or whatever. And people, don’t worry about those people. So here’s my real advice, as we kind of think about it as we go through this, this is what we need to do.

We have to get over ourselves a little bit. And I’m also speaking to myself. Also, this slide is an excuse to feature Depeche Mode, which is one of my favourite bands. And like I said, we’re not the front man for Depeche Mode, but even Dave Gone, who’s like one of the best lead singers in the business, doesn’t think that he’s better than the rest of the band. Now PJ’s sitting here and later he’s going to be like: ‘Well, you know, there was this one interview where Dave said, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah’. But you know what PJ? I’m trying to make a point here. Okay? But seriously, this is the thing. We’re all part of this larger organisation. We’re all part of our business and we want to collaborate. We don’t want to set ourselves above.

And this is one of the things that I think, and it’s hard, but we do tend to see ourselves sitting in kind of a bubble inside of our company, right? We have all these other things. Then there’s a lot of really great stuff. We saw some really great stuff about DevRel being the glue and that’s really awesome and we should be doing that. But those membranes are really permeable. So this is a novel idea. I’m just going to let this one hang here for a minute, because it might make you feel a little uncomfortable. Also, I want to fill a little time. But this is the sort of thing and this is a tough one. It’s weird, right? And when I was building this deck, I told a friend of mine that I was going to have to try really hard to not just have it be a whole bunch of screenshots of my own tweets.

I feel like I’ve written this talk on Twitter over the last couple years, but it is true. How many of us get into this thing and we get tired of the stereotypes about DevRels. ‘DevRels can’t code, they’re just like influencers and they just fly around the world and they go to conferences and go to beaches’. And by the way, yeah, that’s part of what we do and that’s awesome – Kubecon in Valencia, woo! But we have no problem making these same comments about sales reps or something, right? And I also will firmly acknowledge that under indexed folks deal with those DevRel stereotypes a lot more than someone who looks like me. So I want to acknowledge that. But we are supposed to be high empathy folks in this function.

Kim Bannerman has said DevRels are empathy engineers, and I agree with that. But we’ve also collectively decided that we have some colleagues who don’t deserve our empathy because of the job they chose to do, and that sort of sucks. So, these are some of the common perceptions that people have about people who work in sales. So one of those is that they’re not technical, right? And you say they don’t understand the technical product. Their skills are all relationship based. By the way, I’m not calling out ‘selling on the golf course’ and stuff like that. But that’s what we think, right? We think that’s what salespeople do. You know, they take people out to dinner and handshake deals and stuff.

Another thing that we tend to think about them is that they’re dishonest, right? There’s a stereotype of a used car salesman, right? It’s sort of that slimy guy who’s like: ‘okay, what’s it gonna take to get you in here?’ And all this kind of stuff. We have these perceptions that they’re going to use shady tactics and they’re going to promise things that a product can not do. Then there’s another one, which is that they are all just about money, right? They’re coin operated. So I’m going to talk about these first two in a little bit more depth. But for the third one, here’s the thing. So, years ago when I started working at the company Chef, and I was part of the Chef community before I joined. I loved chef and it was influential to my career. I loved it so much.

A couple months, in our VP of sales said: ‘Hey, Matty, you know, we’ve got this new sales rep starting. It’d be awesome if you could fly in and do a meeting with them and you can like teach him about chefing what the product’s like and all this stuff and it’d be cool’. So the new dude and I were both flying into Boston. So we meet at the airport, we’re taking a cab to the place where we’re going to have the meeting. And I’m sitting there in the back of the cab with him and I’m all starry-eyed and we’re just talking about stuff. I’m like: ‘it’s just really exciting to be like working at Chef and I’m really looking forward to helping people do awesome stuff’. And he sits there and he goes: ‘I’m looking forward to making a sh*tload of money’.

And I hated that guy for six months. I looked back at it after a while and I was like, who cares that that’s it? Because first of all, that’s a value judgment a little bit. But also that’s what makes them good at getting the deal. Because at the end of the day we need to get those POs. Here’s the thing, they can be all about money. They’re not billionaires. They can stick around, okay? If your account execs are billionaires, then mazeltov to your company’s revenue because that’s amazing, but usually they’re not. So the thing is, the sales org isn’t totally evil. It’s a little bit. To be clear, it definitely wasn’t before. This is not supposed to be that ‘salespeople are amazing and everything’s great’.

Tech sales is fundamentally broken in a lot of ways. So let’s just be really clear about that, right? I’m just saying that referring to people as sales droids or whatnot because of their job is a pretty bad look. But there is a reason that your CEO’s best friend is the CRO or the VP of sales. And the things to think about when it comes down to this is that no matter what your job is, whether it’s DevRel or anything, you will do it better if you understand how your company makes money. And you’ll do that even better if you understand the sales function. Quick little side note, because I say this a lot, not just to DevRels. When I would talk to DevRel – I would be giving talks to people for DevOps transformation and stuff – I’d say: ‘Hey, do you know how your company makes money?’

If you don’t, go find out, I’ll wait. And then I spent a year when I was working at Red Hat and I was actually working in the public sector working with state and local government agencies and I would talk about things. And one thing I thought was fascinating is people who work in the Government, instead of private enterprise, the answer isn’t how does your company make money, because they don’t. But you say, what’s the mission? They all know. But you go to an average enterprise and you ask people, how does your company actually make money? People don’t really know. So you’ll think you know, but understanding your sales function helps you do that. The other thing is I want to acknowledge there are absolutely toxic people who work in sales.

Yes, I think there is something about that function that might attract that a little bit more. But there are also account executives, solution architects, sales engineers who know way more about our technology, our product, and the people who use it than a lot of us do in DevRel. There’s a lot to take from that. We can learn from them and getting to know how sales and marketing actually work and collaborating can actually help us learn about our products and our users. So I talked earlier, I said: ‘Hey, this is about whether we’re holding on as the belts are tightening, as was said, you know, are you building? Are you selling?’ I’m going to be talking a little bit more about the second one, because this is not an hour long way of closing things, but there are pieces when it comes into that.

And a couple other things too. So you may sit inside the marketing org. This is true, whether you sit inside the marketing organisation or you don’t. And, again, turns out people who are marketing professionals know how to do marketing, right? They actually know how to do their job. And there’s a couple places where this comes in when we think about it. One is when you think about folks in marketing, they do user research, right? Market research they might call it, we call it user research. And so if we can join forces, the sum is greater than the whole of its parts. There’s things they know about our prospective folks that we can do. And then also that can really help get that voice heard, because it turns out that people whose job it is to get a message out there actually know how to do that.

Now, this is a two-way street. We need to work with them. We do not work for them. Unless you do! But what I always like to think about it is DevRel does a lot of the same things, but we do it a little more diagonally. And even if you’re not in the marketing function, a lot of the things that a marketing group wants to do are things that we want to do. We want to understand our users. People in marketing have ways of understanding that. We have different ways of doing it. Let’s join forces. It’s even like what I’m going to talk about – combining budgets, combining resources, these are all things. The other thing is amplification.

Here’s a fun fact. How many of you in DevRel work with your external comms or PR people? Okay, cool! Awesome. But everybody’s hand, it’d be awesome if it went up. Because here’s the thing, PR people would love to make you famous. Okay? There’s a lot and there’s a lot we can do. And there’s stuff that I’m doing right now, we’re trying to build up more within our experience where I’m at now. Think about it just this way. I want to give this example. So you’re working at a startup or company or whatnot. So the press comes in, the agency, they want to hear from the founder all the time.

They got a question about the thing in the industry and they’re like: ‘Okay, I gotta go talk to Jane Smith, the founder’. Number one, your founder is your CEO. They’re busy, right? Not saying we aren’t busy, but you know, it’s time. And also they’re not even necessarily the right person. Now if the question they want to ask is: ‘Hey, tell me the story about how you got founded’. Or if it’s more like: ‘Hey, tell me some more stuff about it’. You know who are good people that know this stuff? That actually can speak to it? Developer Advocates, because they know the industry. This is, again, one other thing I’ve been fond of saying, if you haven’t heard me say it before, DevRel contains multitudes.

Not every DevRel is the same person. This doesn’t work for everybody. You may not be the person that wants to talk to the press, but the other thing is you are very good about getting your stuff out there. So you think about how many of us want to repurpose content, right? Got to make a blog post out of it, right? What if instead of it was a blog post? Now that’s all stuff that’s just on your own digital property. But what if it was like, I give a talk and now that turns into a byline on DZone, right? That’s expanding reach. So the whole thing though is again, people are good at getting the message out there. Who are the other people in the organisation who can help with that? And you’re actually helping them solve a problem as well.

So the thing is, we want to believe so hard that DevRel is not developer marketing because somehow we decided that sales and marketing are icky. In a lot of ways it can be, and that’s not bad. By that I mean we’re trying to accomplish similar things. Angie Jones has a great blog post that’s a little counter to this and I love that as well. I’ve got some links that I’ll give at the end. I’m going to talk a little bit more about this in a bit, but there’s a lot of things we do that rhyme with other parts of the organisation and that can really help us be superpowered. And it helps us do this thing, because this is one of the best bits of advice I would give to us in a downturn – we need to do things that require less imagination to show value.

Like I said, it is tough out there right now. The beans are being counted. I guess the metaphor here is that guitar solo. But a lot of times we do stuff where we say: ‘Okay, well let me explain to you why this thing is gonna pay off dividends eight months from now, 12 months from now, 18 months from now’. And I’m not saying only do short-term things, but we want to focus on the things where someone can connect the dots without us having to show them how the dots go. That was an example of one of the things that I would’ve said differently six months ago, right? The other one is, I’d say one for them, one for you. So, you know, for example, sometimes you might need to do some top of funnel content.

You’re like: ‘Okay, I really don’t wanna write this thing that’s sort of inbound’. I usually use a film analogy for this, which is to say you have to do the Blockbuster movie so you can do the prestige picture. But I had to come up with a new one for rock and roll, and so this is what I came up with. Even Iggy Pop had a song in a cruise ship commercial. So like, sometimes you can sell out a little bit. Another thing I didn’t realise because it wasn’t in America but in the UK, Iggy Pop did an auto insurance commercial and apparently it was super controversial because musicians couldn’t get insurance from the company. I thought that was kind of cool.

But the trick of these, and it’s not necessarily one to one either, maybe it’s more like one for them, six for you. That’s cool. The trick is don’t put your heart and soul into this work, right? Don’t work late over it. Just get it done, right? We can’t do it. But here’s the trick of this stuff. The best part about selling out? You get paid. So let’s talk about how we can do that.

How can you sell out but keep your soul intact? Because we like it, I want everybody to keep your soul. So the example I’m going to give here is I talked a little bit about stuff that I did when I was a DevOps advocate – because that’s what I called it. Not a Developer Advocate because heaven knows nobody wants to see me code – when I was at PagerDuty. And so I would do a lot of work with prospects and with customers. And again, I was in the community team, I was in the developer advocacy team. We weren’t even connected to marketing or sales. We reported to the CTO, who had nothing about engineering. That’s a whole other fun strike. I can tell people about that. But we were a fundamentally completely separate team.

We kind of stumbled into this by accident, but it worked real well. So let’s say,  if I was going to be in a certain region for a conference and that’s dating things a little bit when I was travelling the world a lot more. But let’s say I was going to be in Australia speaking at a conference and I was going to be there for a while, because you don’t fly from Chicago to Sydney for like two days, right? So I’m like: ‘Okay, I’m gonna be in town for like a week or so’. So I would have like 10 or 11 meetings while I was there with potential PagerDuty customers with our sales team. And not a single one of those meetings had anything to do with our product.

It was not come in and talk about what PagerDuty does. Let me give a demo or whatnot. There would be meetings with groups of people in that organisation to say: ‘Hey, let’s talk about how you’re doing instant response. How are you doing blameless postmortems? How’s your DevOps trend? Let’s talk about DevOps transformation and stuff’. And it was all really high level culture stuff, but it was really powerful because it did a couple different interesting things. It made the customer say: ‘Hey, one of the values if I am a customer of yours, I have access to stuff like this that isn’t just you coming in and pitching a product, right?’ And there’s other ways to do this too. It also adds to the ‘you aren’t just trying to sell me something, right?’ We want to have this conversation on this side of your sales team.

It gives them a reason to have a conversation with a customer and an account executive wants nothing more in their life but to have a reason to talk to a prospect. And I can’t tell you how many meetings I would walk out of and the sales rep would turn to me and say: ‘I’ve been trying to meet that CTO for six months’. Now, how can you do DevPlus sales safely? And, warning, this will not work for every kind of DevRel or every kind of product. I’m giving this as an example because, number one, maybe you’ll look at this and say I can actually implement this. But it’s more to also give the example of: ‘Hey, how can we think about things in a different way?’ So the first thing is, like I said, it’s okay to meet with customers and prospects, but not to talk about the product, but about the ideas that might help them see value in the product where that might come in.

And again, the way this comes in you have to be careful with this. This is a warning I’m going to give you because it depends on your organisation. We are not sales engineers, we are not solution architects. It’s not because we’re better than we have those in our organisation and they’re very good at it. Now, if you are in an organisation that does not have sales engineers as solution architects, do not do a single thing I’m going to show you on this slide because you will turn into a sales engineer. So, now here’s the next one. This is something special being offered to them. Do you remember a couple slides ago I kept reiterating we have to get over ourselves? This is the exception. After I left PagerDuty, I went to Red Hat and we’re trying to do this again and the account reps were like: ‘Well I can’t get this to work’. I said: ‘Well, how are you doing this?’

They said: ‘Well, I would go and blah, blah, blah’. I said: ‘Well, you don’t go to them and say: ‘Hey Ms.CTO, can I get Maddie on your calendar?’ You go: ‘Hey Ms.CTO, I have this expert, he’s going to be in the region. I would love to be able to offer you the opportunity to have floor meet with you. Can I get you on her calendar?’ And it changes the calculus of that. So this is the one time when you don’t have to get over yourself. Now, you need to be able to back it up. Actually have the value of that. And again, then your solution architect, your AE, they can follow up later with the topic to sort of say: ‘Okay, cool, so remember we had this thing? This is actually how it connects to the product’.

The other thing is, if you’re having these conversations with these prospects – we talk about feeding, advocating for our users, advocating for our customers – this gives us information because we’re having these conversations that we can then feed back into product if that’s where we’re sitting. So, I used to say that the most effective salesperson at Chef was Nathan Harvey, who was our VP of community. And there’s always been this running joke that a customer will tell a sales engineer something that they would never tell an account executive because, even though your title says sales engineer, they’re like: ‘Oh, but you’re not selling me something. I can trust you. Right?’ So that goes double for developer advocates, right? Because everyone’s like: ‘Oh, okay, cool, well you’re just the community guy, right?’

Did Nathan Harvey want people to buy Chef? Yes, because he liked working at Chef and we keep working there when people give us money. And so nobody sees us coming and it’s not about being sneaky. I know it’s sort of sounding like that way. But here’s the thing. This goes back to the authority and it goes back to the salesman. If the only way someone would buy the product is if you tricked them, maybe you shouldn’t be working at that company, right? So this is really about a partnering thing. So, I like to talk about this idea of work as imagined versus work as done. So, this is Jimmy Chamberlain, the drummer of Pumpkins, and this dude gets it done. This is work done, right? Okay, another shout for PJ. Versus you look at the lead singer and whatever he calls himself at Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Corgan.

So Billy goes and creates the latest album and it’s seven records long and it’s this exploration and whatever. And you’re like: ‘Okay Billy, that’s not whatever it is’. And then Jimmy’s just like hitting the skins. He’s getting it done. So this is the idea of we talk about how we would like things to be, but what do we actually do? So I talked about being able to provide feedback to product and things like that. That’s great. That’s a great advocacy. It’s full duplex bidirectional thing. We advocate for our community. How many folks here, and maybe everybody close your eyes because I’m going ask you to raise your hands, actually are enabled to do that in your organisation, right? Yes, that’s what I thought.

Okay. Unless DevRel is directly connected or part of product, this is very hard to do. And number one, when things are hard, we tend to not do them. Important point. I am not saying it’s not important, I’m not saying we shouldn’t keep trying, but in a downturn we focus on the work is done stuff, right? And it’s also great to say: ‘Okay, hey, I’m here. I fight for the user. I just work on open source contributions’. This is all the stuff that connects to us, right? Makes us look like a little bit of a target. But how are we gonna do these things? How are we going to show value with less imagination, but still be developer advocates, DevRels, and all the things we know we want to do and that’s why we do this job.

Okay. So a couple things I I said before about how I thought this was a build slide. I screwed this one up. That’s okay. It’s cool. Well, it’s a spoiler. This is what I’m going to talk about. I talked about how DevRel can rhyme with a lot of other parts of the organisation. And like that developer success panel yesterday, it was really inspiring a little bit because customer success is another part of the organisation that DevRel is a lot like. DevRel, I’ve said before, is like customer success for people who aren’t necessarily customers, right? And if you go back and you look at what customer success is really about, it’s about enabling your customer to be successful. It’s not about making them happy, because making them successful, sometimes you’re not going to make them happy along the way, but it’s letting them accomplish the thing and do that.

So there’s lessons we can learn from that. I just want to say business because it’s called different things. You think about partnering and whatever. But here’s the thing. So if your organisation, if your company is like: ‘Okay, we wanna partner’, whether it’s like an ISV thing or building a partnership with someone else, that’s a big ask to say: ‘How do I do something with Ivan with this other company?’ So if we’re saying: ‘Okay, should we be partnering with Honeycomb?’ Okay, well, we could go through the whole partner channel thing and then we have to build an integration and do all this work to maybe even find out if it was worth it. It’s not a big ask for me to go over to my DA friend and say: ‘Hey, let’s just do a live stream together in front of your audience and see if when we put these two things together, does this resonate?’

So maybe if we get some good feedback on that, we’re like: ‘Oh, okay, cool. When we talk about these things together, it’s not a guarantee that we’re all gonna make a million dollars, but we’re like, okay, it seems like it was a little bit of an experiment. We can investigate this more’. Or we can say: ‘Well, that really went over like a lead balloon. Turns out people at Honeycomb could not care less about data platform as a service. So maybe those things don’t go together.’ So we can help build those partner things. Also, this is the thing, remember, so these developer advocate, developer for advocate partnerships are powerful. Your network is vast. We know all the people, right? And this is how we can help other parts of the organisation.

I’ll give a little fun story. So when I was at Pulumi, we were wanting to do more of an official partner activity thing with Datadog and everybody wanted to do it, right? This was not like, how do we do it? But the Datadog partner marketing folks were just really super busy, so like our partner person at Pulumi just couldn’t get anything back, right? They were like: ‘Okay, well we’ll get to it, we’ll get to it, we’re going to have to schedule and have to schedule’. And then I was at KubeCon and I saw Elon, who was the VP of product, when I was walking out. I said: ‘Hey, you should do a thing’. He goes: ‘Yeah, just call Waldo, let’s just do it’. And it was two DAs and we just slapped a thing together, right?’

So we can do that. And this goes back to some point I’m going to make in just a minute about what we’re going to do together. So a couple things. Now we talked about all this. So we need to show value, but set boundaries. This is always good DevRel advice. It is in our DNA to help people, or we wouldn’t do this job, right? It is very hard for people who tend to work in this type of field to say no even when we want to say no, right? We know we want to say no, but it is so incredibly hard. I am trying so hard to teach this to my team right now. We’re working on it. So that’s okay. Here’s one of the risks of the thing I just said when I said: ‘Okay, maybe we’re gonna do those shorter connecting of dots’.

So what’s the risk? The risk is this becomes the new normal, right? So boundaries help us with this. The other thing is that risk is a little less than you think because number one, what’s the average age of any org chart or strategy in a company? It’s like 18 months. So whatever the new normal is, it ain’t going to last that long anyway, so it’s fine. Everything’s always changing. So the thing about boundaries is they can be flexible and situational. So they’re not absolute, it’s not always the same thing. And I’m just going to give a couple examples. You’ll have your own, but these give an idea of what I mean by them being flexible or shifting. So one might be I’ll call in a favour for someone from someone once. An example: I had just recently joined a company and we had a big product launch.

And so they of course had the Google sheets list of all the influencers and they’re like: ‘Okay, can we get these people to tweet about our new product launch and who knows them?’ And there was one, it was Emily Freeman. ‘Well Maddie knows her. Can you get her to tweet about, you know, whatever?’ And I said: ‘You get one favour. Is this the one you want? Or do you want me to get her to keynote our conference?’ So that’s the thing, because the reason that people do favours for me is I don’t ask them a lot. And when they say no, I say it’s okay. But it is an example of a boundary. He says: ‘Okay, yes, I know people, but I will do it this one time. I’ll do it once, or maybe I’ll share some promos in my social network, but I’m going to use my own words, in my own way’.

Not saying you have to do this, I’m not saying anybody has any responsibility to do this, but it’s an example of a way to set the boundary. Say: ‘I’ll get you an accomplished thing, but I am not your favourite brush, right? You don’t get to to use me as your megaphone, but I will do this thing’. Or, a friend of mine gave this example: ‘Hey, I’ll write about a new feature that we have, but only after I’ve gotten to use it and I’m going to use my own words’. And she’s not saying that, okay, if she thinks it’s trash, she’s going to write and say this is terrible, but it’s gonna be authentic and true. And that’s actually super duper helpful to be able to have that. So, maybe not completely uplifting. Karaoke is what’s going to make us uplifted. But here’s what is. We are going to go be awesome because we are in a rough time right now.

I was giving you the metaphor before and I said your company is the band, right? DevRel is the bass player. Marketing is the cow bell, I guess. Well, heaven knows we don’t need more of that cow bell, but if we think that your company is a band and we’re playing together, our community is one big music festival. The message I want you to get out of this is we have things like DevRelCon. I think we got a lot of great ideas from each other over the last couple days about how we can add more value, we can build more things together. We can bring our network together. That’s the thing. We are going to amplify what our company can do by partnering with each other. And that’s probably the biggest way that we can all help ourselves get through this so we can see it in the rear view mirror and continue to add this value. The biggest way to do it is to think in ways we haven’t thought about before. So, thank you very much. Thank you for celebrating my birthday with me.

MC: Thank you so much for this great talk. I think you’re right that we often forget other departments. We think that they will take something away or we don’t see that we’re all under the same roof, right? It’s the same company. Why aren’t we working together to go further?

Matty: I will point out by the way that we are still better than everybody else (!)

Presenter: We have time for three questions.

Audience member 1: Maybe you can add a little bit more insight. How as a DevRel person can you collaborate with marketing and sales without losing your authenticity? The engineering community don’t like sales and marketing either.

Matty: Yeah. So, yes and no. I want to be careful with that a little bit. How many have heard developers don’t like marketing? Untrue, they don’t like traditional marketing. Developers like people who solve their problems and actually they don’t like salespeople that do all the things we complain about, but someone in that place. So again, I’ll think about a couple things, but at PagerDuty, I’m telling you, the people who mostly came to those meetings were individual contributors and they loved it, right? There’s just one thing I thought was hilarious. There was a company in Australia called Car Sales and I got to be super good buddies and it was a weird thing where I would end up seeing them about every six months when I would be in region and they were just falling over themselves because they just wanted to show me the cool sh*t that they were doing.

So that’s the thing, you are collaborating with them because you’re not going in there and selling to them, but you’re bringing something. And there’s different ways. So, in the example with the PagerDuty, that was one where there were cultural transformational ways of thinking that had to do with the product. Not every product’s like that. But you can do things with maybe it’s a workshop, it’s something where you’re saying: ‘Okay, the salespeople will get value out of that’. Again, when you look at what your account executive wants, they want an excuse to spend time with the customer. Okay? So you’re like: ‘Okay, what can you do where you can go and meet?’ And again, meet – a meeting doesn’t mean like I’ve got my PowerPoint and I’m doing whatever – spend time with, that gives them value, right?

So in my case, they’re like: ‘Oh, cool. Let’s step through how you do instant response. Fundamentally a lot of these were workshops. They were sitting there saying: ‘Cool, let’s talk it through’. But also, as one of my business cards at PagerDuty used to say, ‘thought validator’, because half the time all that it needed to be was for someone to tell me what they were doing, so I could say: ‘Yes, that sounds great. You are on the right track’. Right? Even if you’re in a Dev tooling space or in a place like that how is it connecting to? And the same thing with collaborating with marketing where you’re saying: ‘Okay, cool. So what are you trying to do marketing and how can we help do it in a way that can maintains that authenticity?’

How many of us have been feeling like you’re in an organisation where you’re like: ‘Okay, part of my job is to tell the marketing people ‘don’t say that sh*t.’ Right? So that’s actually part of it, right? You can sit there and the reality is, at least in my experience, if you position it right and you don’t go into it saying: ‘Well, you guys are a bunch of idiots, let me tell you what you’re doing wrong’, but just say: ‘Hey, how can we collaborate? People fall over themselves to do that. This is the thing because it’s like I said, it’s a matter of number one, but again, to keep that authenticity. That’s why you don’t say: ‘Hey, marketing, I’ll do a bunch of webinars’. Right. You know? So again, if we’re going to do a partner thing, when I was a PagerDuty, they’d be like: ‘Cool, we wanna do a thing with Datadog’. I’m like: ‘Cool. I’ll do like a thing with Frosty from Datadog, but we’re not going to go in there and do a demo of how Datadog and PagerDuty work together. We’re going to talk about a topic that gets people interested and that is of value’. This goes back to one other thing I think we have to be cautious about. We have our own preconceived notion about certain value. Especially those of us that do like community events and days, sometimes we over-rotate on community authority and we forget that sometimes people actually do want to see a pitch and they do want to see a demo. So it’s a matter of saying, but in a concrete way. So, yeah. So it’s possible.

MC: And thank you. I think that’s it. We’re all ready for karaoke.

See more from DevRelCon Prague 2022 here

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