In terms of marketing and PR, a large free software project is quite similar to a large corporation. In fact, activities are following each other without interruption: major and minor product announcements, global events and local events, community fostering projects, and day to day activities (such as working with journalists).
In addition, there are the so called back office activities, which are instrumental for the success of the main ones but are less visible (and usually tedious). For instance, a major announcement has a burst of PR activities during the last week, which are based on a careful check of journalists’ email addresses, and on a thorough read of articles published during the last few months.
July is the month of a major announcement, which happens either at the end of July or during the first week of August. In 2016, we have announced LibreOffice 5.2, a feature rich major release, introducing – amongst a wealth of interesting novelties – document classification, a significant new feature for enterprise deployments.
August is usually the month before the LibreOffice Conference, and as such is spent finalizing the event schedule, and putting the finishing touches to the program.
September is the conference month. In 2016, the community has gathered in Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic and a technology hub, at the local IT university. The event was organized by OpenAlt and backed by Red Hat, which has a large software dev facility in the city. During the conference, we have announced LibreOffice 5.2.1 and LibreOffice 5.1.5.
October is usually the month when we start planning the next major announcement. In 2016 we have worked together with the Design Team at the new user interface concept, which will be affecting not only LibreOffice 5.3 but also the following major release, and possibly even the next one.
We have discussed extensively the concept, because we wanted to provide users a clear path forward without leaving behind those loyal to the traditional LibreOffice UI, which will not be abandoned.
LibreOffice will offer a flexible user interface, where each user will be able to configure the UI to fit his working habits. In fact, with millions of users, it would be impossible to please everyone by offering only one option in term of user interface.
In November, during the Month of LibreOffice, we have prepared the UI announcement, while working at media mailing lists and monitoring articles about LibreOffice 5.2 (which have reached the record amount of over 2,000 in less than six months).
We have also improved the results, in terms of clicks, of our Google sponsored AdWord account. This is a fine tuning activity, based on the mix of keywords and the bid value associated to each keyword.
In December, we have announced the MUFFIN – My User Friendly & Flexible Interface – with a record number of over 20,000 visits (and over 80,000 page views) to TDF blog. It is an unexpected success, which confirms that we have chosen the right approach to an issue affecting a large number of LibreOffice users.
At the end of the semester, we are ready for a new exciting year (and another semester of ongoing marketing and PR activities, which will start in early January with the first draft of the documents for the announcement of LibreOffice 5.3).