WordPress Media Corps Initial Roadmap

On March 20, @chanthaboune introduced a new initiative called WordPress Media Corps, shifting Make Marketing efforts toward exploring the opportunity to collaborate closely with WordPress media folks.

The following is a first draft of this experimental project that seeks to capture the expectations communicated so far, with an overview of high-level tasks, metrics, and timelines. For further background, you can refer to Josepha’s most recent post.

Goal

The WP Media Corps aims to enable independent WordPress marketers and media members to produce excellent quality content with less time and effort.

Why a WordPress Media Corps?

WordPress media play an important role in promoting WordPress initiatives and fostering engagement within the community. However, staying informed about the project’s key developments is challenging and requires frequent navigation of people and scattered sources of information.

Having a central or direct avenue for news through WP Media Corps could help streamline for media partners to get accurate, consistent updates and enhance the flow of information that needs more awareness—ultimately fostering more a informed community and audience that can contribute to the project’s growth.

Scope

Media or PR teams are typically tasked with a broad set of responsibilities, from crafting public relations strategies to crisis management. However, the WordPress Media Corps project is intentionally adopting a limited scope that we can confidently manage to test the viability and assumptions necessary to achieve the desired goal.

What does this look like in practice?

In practice, this means the experiment will focus on compiling updates and news across the project that would benefit from increased awareness and getting them to WordPress media partners and marketers more readily.

What is out of scope right now?

  • Promoting media providers on WordPress.orgWordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org/ platforms: The Media Corps will provide information to external partners so that they can have accurate, high-quality content. However, external content won’t be promoted through links, WordPress social platforms, WordPress Planet, or others.
  • Delivering embargoed or exclusive information: Current sensitive content, mainly release names or security releases, will remain discreet due to their nature.
  • Interview requests: While the Media Corps can help point media folks in the right direction for additional information, facilitate connections/points of contact, and funnel requests to what we can manage right now, the team will not be responsible for arranging interview requests for now.
  • Addressing broader PR activities and non-WordPress outlets or marketers as part of this experiment: All ideas for the current WP Media Corps concept are welcome, but it is worth reiterating that it will not be possible to cover those outside the scope and resources at this time.

Consider the WP Media Corps a Minimum Viable ProductMinimum Viable Product "A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers, and to provide feedback for future product development." - WikiPedia (“MVPMinimum Viable Product "A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers, and to provide feedback for future product development." - WikiPedia”) that seeks to minimize complexity by narrowing the scope to the most feasible, quick-impact elements. If it proves successful, the project can be expanded in scope and scale, incorporating improvements and ideas. Feedback and results will inform future decisions on enhancing, iterating, or discontinuing the project based on its effectiveness and impact.

Media partners criteria

We want to include folks who talk about, promote, teach, or otherwise share WordPress-centric content, and we especially want to enable those who have a reasonably high standard for fact-checking, grammar, and audience involvement.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy, WordPress Executive Director.

The WP Media Corps will initially comprise of partners that meet the following criteria:

  • Have a focus on producing content that is at least 80% about WordPress
  • Report factual news or produce relevant educational content
  • Maintain high standards of content quality/journalism
  • Adhere to WordPress community guidelines
  • Respect information sensitivities (if any)

While this list inevitably excludes some WP media, it’s intended to facilitate recruitment, selection, and work on the experiment. As we learn from media partners, it will be easier to understand and inform future decisions about what may or may not work, whether to broaden the criteria, make it more selective, or extend it to non-WordPress news outlets.

The work involved

Below are some high-level tasks the project will involve, along with approximate timelines and some additional notes to help set expectations.

Phase 1. Research and outreach (May-June 2024)

This first phase will involve these activities so far:

  • Identify and vet media partner candidates. This existing work-in-progress list can be used and built upon with more outlets and candidates as a starting point.
  • Reach out to potential media partners that meet the criteria to encourage participation and open lines of communication.
  • Survey media partners to help inform the implementation phase (format/frequency of calls, briefing content, etc).

These tasks can be handled by a working group of contributors who want to participate and commit some of their time to this new concept, with support from sponsored contributors.

Phase 2. Implementation (July-November 2024)

The implementation phase will primarily involve the following tasks (expand on each for details):

Prepare briefings by gathering and curating information that media partners need to be aware of.
  • Automattic-sponsored contributors will compile briefings in collaboration with contributors wanting to act as a liaison point with other Make teams, flagship WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. organizing teams, etc, to gather updates.
  • Ideally, briefings should have a structured agenda over time. They could be something similar to Month in WordPress to start with (e.g., what’s coming, events, follow-up questions, etc).
Host calls with media partners.
  • For now, calls will be facilitated by Automattic-sponsored contributors.
  • To start with, we could do bi-weekly calls mixed with async opportunities, but this is yet to be decided. Once we survey media partners, it will be easier to understand what might work better.
Maintain collaboration with media partners, address incoming questions, and help funnel requests to what we can handle right now (based on capacity and resources).
  • This will be supported by Automattic-sponsored contributors in collaboration with other contributors.
  • [Stretch] Create a WordPress.org media kit/page.

Phase 3. Monitoring and measurement (July-November 2024)

This phase should be run in parallel to the implementation:

  • Establish baseline for metrics to track and measure success/future improvements
  • Monitor media coverage: This needs further discussion. A channel with RSS feeds from media partners could be a starting point to help track media coverage/content.

Phase 4. Informing next steps (December 2024)

This will involve evaluating the results and feedback received and informing leadership on the recommended next steps (iterating on the current approach with adjustments, expansion, or termination of the project).

How do we measure success?

I suggest the following primary success metrics:

  • Media partner engagement and feedback: Number of qualified media partners engaging, attending meetings, and participating in our channel. We should also assess efficiency and satisfaction with the WP Media Corps. Understand if media partners find the initiative helpful in having the latest information and reducing the time/effort required to find what they need and produce content.
  • Media coverage/quality and quantity of WP content produced: This can include blog posts, podcasts, videos, etc. Track media coverage and evaluate if the content meets the requirements set for qualification, accurately communicates information, its potential reach, etc.

Stakeholders

Some additional considerations

I’m aware there is a lot of involvement from Automattic-sponsored contributors to help kick things off and see if the WP Media Corps concept is viable, but I don’t want it to always be like this. If the concept is successful, it would be great to identify the different responsibilities and roles the work involves and define a contributor ladder similar to what other Make teams have done (here are a few examples from the Community, Training, and Polyglots teams). I believe this could help bring in more contributors who could progressively become more involved and grow the Media Corps project.

FAQ

Here are some common questions collected from post comments and SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/. conversations about the Media Corps.

Should we rename this as PR?

My suggestion would be not to rename it for now. Common PR responsibilities include designing communications campaigns, writing press releases, pitching stories, arranging media interviews, writing speeches for leadership, managing public reputation and crisis, etc. As mentioned above, this is an experimental project with a limited scope, so I think that treating it as PR right now is too broad and may lead to confusion about the activities and responsibilities involved.

Will meetings be gatekept (e.g., invitation only) based on who meets the criteria? Or can anyone attend?

Meetings will be open, but they will be for media partners. In other words, everyone will be able to join as a spectator, but questions/requests from media partners will be prioritized.

Should we include non-English media partners?

As long as they meet the criteria, I see no issue in including non-English media partners. However, given the project’s limited scope, meetings and briefings will be in English. Should WP Media Corps continue, further opportunities could be explored to provide more support to non-English media.

Will qualified media partners have any recognition?

The current scope does not cover this aspect. Still, discussing ways the WP Media Corps could give credit or recognition to qualified media partners (without necessarily promoting them) would be good. For example, by giving badges or some “media partner” banners that they could display on their sites.

What would happen to a media partner who publishes a piece of content that is critical of the WordPress project, a decision, or project leadership?

Relationships with media partners should be based on mutual respect and the shared goal of providing valuable, accurate information to their audiences. I think a critique, in itself, does not jeopardize a media partner’s status. However, because the independent voices from media partners are essential to WordPress’ growth and improvement, their content is expected to be well-informed, factually correct, and presented in a manner that fosters constructive dialogue. If there are any factual inaccuracies or misleading information, the Media Corps group can ask media partners to make appropriate corrections to ensure the information maintains clarity and accuracy.

Next steps and request for feedback

If you’ve read all the way through until now, thank you! I’d like to reiterate what Josepha mentioned in her first post. This is a new experiment and a big change, so I’m aware that it comes with uncertainty and questions that are still open. We know that this won’t solve all the marketing challenges that WordPress faces, but if you see potential in this initiative, I encourage you to join in making the WP Media Corps possible.

If you would like to actively participate in this new concept, please express your interest in the comments, specifying in which of the above high-level activities or areas you would like to contribute your efforts. I would also appreciate any feedback you might have. In particular, I would like to know:

  • Based on the media partner criteria, are there any outlets that you would recommend?
  • Do you think the roadmap is achievable in the time presented?
  • What other questions come to mind?

Please share your thoughts by May 10, 2024. Once I have a better understanding of who is interested in joining and gather feedback, I’d like to organize a kickoff session to cover and discuss the next steps. In the meantime, you are welcome to join the new #media-corps Slack channel.

Special thanks to @angelasjin, @eidolonnight, @laurlittle, and @bernard0omnisend for helping review this first WP Media Corps roadmap.