Fedora and "Red Hat Enterprise Linux"

Paul W. Frields stickster at gmail.com
Tue Apr 29 19:27:24 UTC 2008

On Tue, 2008-04-29 at 13:19 -0400, Max Spevack wrote:
> On Tue, 29 Apr 2008, Kara Schiltz wrote:
> > I agree with Rahul -- we need to frame this in a more positive tone. 
> > I think scheduling a phone call with Paul and the journalist would be 
> > a more effective vehicle.  We could clear up any incorrect details and 
> > continue to build a good relationship with this journalist....all 
> > leading to positive (and accurate) coverage of Fedora in the future.
> Jon's points are valid -- there are several inaccuracies in the article.
> However, the author does have a standing relationship with Fedora, 
> insofar as I have spoken to him several times in the past, and he has 
> covered Fedora releases before.  We know him.  He covers a variety of 
> Red Hat related news, and to be honsest, I don't blame him if there is 
> some confusion in his mind about Fedora, RHEL, and how the two play 
> together.  There's probably 4 or 5 Red Hat folks who talk to him at 
> different times about different things, and I'm sure he gets some mixed 
> messages.
> In my opinion, the best thing to do is for Paul to take some extra time 
> during his conversation with the author in a Fedora 9 interview and help 
> to explain and clear up any mistakes in the article.
> There's no malice here, IMHO.  I think there is just some confusion on 
> the part of the author on terminology, and also on how various Fedora 
> releases relate to RHEL.  I think there's a great opportunity here for 
> Paul to help clear that up, and in doing so, turn this into a situation 
> that is ultimately very beneficial to Fedora.
> In the end, the Fedora Project Leader is accountable for the 
> relationship that Fedora has with various press outlets.  It's right 
> there in the job description.  But this is also a community project, so 
> it's up to Paul to instruct all of us (including me!) on Fedora 
> Marketing List as to how *we* can be most useful to *him* in managing 
> the relationship that Fedora has with various media outlets.
> I think it's important to make sure that articles about Fedora are as 
> accurate as possible, but I also believe, especially from my 2 years as 
> being the primary "voice" of Fedora, that you always catch more flies 
> with honey than with vinegar.

Well, if there's ever been a door held for me to walk through, that's
got to be it. :-)  It is *absolutely vital* that all of us on the Fedora
Marketing team be on the same page for how to deal with journalists and
other media people.  Presenting a consistent, positive, and thoughtful
message about Fedora is our Number One priority on this team and on this

A lot of the message points are already documented on our wiki so
there's no need to rehash them here.  Journalists are busy people, just
like you and me, and occasionally they make mistakes.  Sometimes those
mistakes go uncorrected and become embedded in the journalist's mind.
It's up to us to correct them helpfully, with a gentle touch, and to
leave the door open for future interaction with them.  A single negative
interaction can sometimes close a media door to us for good (or at least
for a long time), but consistent, positive interactions make it likely
that journalists will return to us for good stories.  

*WE* have the ability to make all the difference.

(By the way, if you're even the *least bit* geeky, go read this now:
http://www.mit.edu/~jcb/tact.html .  Now assume in any future
interaction with journalists that *only you* have read this, and it's up
to you to work with that person's tact filter.)

The #1 guideline that will make everything else below just icing on the

It's *especially* important to be concise, careful, and polite if you
are talking with a person whose native language is different than yours.
Cultural norms differ and you want to make sure that (1) your message is
understood, (2) the other person understands it, and (3) that person
goes away feeling that the interaction was helpful and friendly.  Again,

This may be the 14,267th person you've had to talk to about what Fedora
is, or why we do things a certain way, but you may be the FIRST AND ONLY
Fedora person that individual has ever met.  Make it an experience so
great that by the time you're done, they'll want to join up themselves.
AND their neighbors. ;-)  (And if they want to contribute to FOSS, we're
happy to have them.)

Here are some ideas for how to handle these follow-ups.  Please look at
these and make comments, since this is certainly a team effort.

1.  For any formal press outlets, if you see something wrong, send a
boilerplate letter with an offer to provide more information.  Either
Cc: or Bcc: the fedora-marketing-list and me.  I don't want all of our
ability to get our message out to block on me, but I also want a shot at
spinning these offers into interview opportunities.
    (Look at it this way -- that's part of my job, so I get to point to
these interviews at the end of the year and say "Didn't I do a great
job?  Huh? *ahem*"... followed by the sound of crickets.)
    And don't forget, be nice.

*** TODO: Draft up the boilerplate.  It should be even-toned and helpful
and give the journalist a chance to check their facts, which I'd think
most of them would really appreciate.  Maybe Kara would like to take a
shot at doing this on our wiki, at e.g.

2.  For blogs, don't just put in a comment.  Trackback from your own
blog, and tag or categorize it so it gets carried on the Fedora Planet
   Wait, you're not on our Planet feed?  Well put this message on hold,
go read http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Planet and come back when you're
done following those instructions.
   And don't forget, be nice.  (Wait a minute, maybe I said that

3.  For broadcast, make a note of the show name, the air date/time, and
where you heard it, and send something to the list.

Now, I certainly don't mind at all if people just refer these articles
to me, because after all, if only one person is speaking, that makes for
a potentially very consistent message.  But it's not a very scalable
model going forward.  Rather, I'd like to turn these follow-ups into
*opportunities* to speak to media officially.  

And if, on top of that, our intrepid Marketing team is following up with
a consistent, positive message, especially under the tutelage of Leigh,
Kara, and some of the other professional marketing people from Red Hat,
we are going to find ourselves with a very successful press campaign on
our hands.

Please write your comments back, I'd love to hear what people think
about what I've written above.

Paul W. Frields                                http://paul.frields.org/
  gpg fingerprint: 3DA6 A0AC 6D58 FEC4 0233  5906 ACDB C937 BD11 3717
  http://redhat.com/   -  -  -  -   http://pfrields.fedorapeople.org/
  irc.freenode.net: stickster @ #fedora-docs, #fedora-devel, #fredlug
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