release announcements, talking points, release notes, and how we group features into audiences or stories

Robyn Bergeron robyn.bergeron at
Mon Mar 25 11:49:52 UTC 2013


(Sorry for evil double-posting :D)

I was taking a look at the oft-neglected Talking Points, which were
originally designed as a handy list of "new shiny" for each release
that could be handed off to Ambassadors as a quick reference list of
features to talk about, and have also at times served as a starting
point for choosing features to be highlighted in release videos,
interview stories / articles, blog posts, etc. It's entirely possible
that they have also been a reference point for writing release
announcements as well.  Talking points tend to be very focused on
*totally new* things, and not generally on incremental improvements.

And so I figured I'd take a crack at it again - see - though the
mail to mktg list is still yet-to-be-written (the content of this mail
sort of got in the way, ha). (For those unfamiliar, it's sort of an
iterative process, wherein a number of features are proposed, and
marketing whittles them down into a list, which is likely shorter than
perhaps the feature-related content in a release announcement might

A few things stood out as I was going through the list:

1: We have bucketized items into a handful of groups over time, in the
talking points as well as release announcements, as well as for docs
beats and eventually, release notes - User, Developer, Sysadmin (and
Cloud/Virt have popped up here and there in more recent releases for
announcements). Those lines seem to be increasingly blurry - there are
tools/apps that cross the dev and sysadmin roles, user and sysadmin
roles, etc. - and while these groups are probably good for
beats/release notes, esp. since content can just be duplicated /
retailored if absolutely necessary, I'm wondering the following:

Is bucketizing a bunch of stuff into "User, Sysadmin, Developer" the
best answer for marketing highlights of the release? It seems like...
well, a listing of car parts, but not really telling a story about the
car, for lack of a better metaphor.  And it seems a lot like "we made
a bunch of improvements here and there" isn't as compelling as "we
have improved overall state of ($experience, $usecase, etc) and here's

Looking at the list of features it seems like there are a few main
themes, for which I've suggested some marketing-i-fied
names/groupings, though (as you can see in the Talking Points link)
it's certainly open to other suggestions (or the option of leaving

Develop and Distribute: Languages, compilers, and tools for developing
software, and tools for packaging software. (Could also be: Create,
develop, and distribute?)
Start and Recover: Enabling a variety of options for improving boot
times, as well as quicker recovery from system or software failure.
(Boot and Recover? Launch and Recover?)
Monitor and Manage: Systems and resource management, and tools for
diagnosis, monitoring, and logging.

2. Note that I'm not advocating for the "user, sysadmin, dev"
categories to change in docs-land; I think that these stories/themes
are likely to change with each release.  But, given the intertwinement
of docs and marketing when it comes to the release announcement, it
seems like (if docs is crafting the tech-bits of the release
announcement) if we were to bucketize by stories, that we'd need to
get marketing to figure out what those stories are. And I don't just
mean the overarching stories, but also the individual feature stories,
in some cases; I can't tell you how many times I look at a feature and
say, wow, I wish I spoke that language, I wonder what the bigger
picture is, what this effectively enables? Maybe the talking points is
a launch point for that as well, in additoin to being the list that
gets handed off to ambassadors, and then can drive the story
collections in a release announcement, or in one-page release notes;
I'm not sure. Thoughts? The workflow, as often seems to be the case
between docs & mktg, is key.

Basically: Seeking feedback? Thoughts, anyone? :D


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