About the Foundation for Public Code

Communications plan

This resource

Contents

  1. Principles
  2. Objectives
  3. Audience
  4. Success criteria and indicators for target fora
    1. Public tech fora
    2. Public organization leadership
    3. Middle management
    4. Think tanks (influential civil society organizations with intellectual output)
    5. Potential codebase communities
    6. Donors and board members
  5. How we’ll achieve our goals
  6. What we need to do
  7. Prioritization
  8. Unique selling proposition
  9. Channels
    1. Templates
    2. Press releases
  10. Tone of voice
  11. Messaging matrix
  12. Campaigns
    1. Campaign template

The Foundation for Public Code relies on communications to achieve its mission.

Principles

Our communications need to reflect our core values: open, quality, trust, community, helpful. They must also be non-partisan, in line with our founding principles.

Our messages range from neutral in tone to positive and inspirational. Our community won’t be sustainable if we attract people motivated by fear or anger.

Our communications are usually in plain English, but we link to highly relevant pages in other languages, for example about our members’ work.

Our communications should showcase the Foundation for Public Code as:

  • active, dynamic, getting things done
  • smart enough to be trusted with the importance and complexity of its work
  • plugged into and supportive of the network of visionaries and activists who also want this future
  • open and transparent, both about its intentions and operations as well as learnings, failures and successes

We believe it’s more important to talk concretely about what we’ve already done than what we hope to do.

Objectives

Our communications should help us achieve our current priorities.

We have separate goals and objectives for different audiences and fora.

Audience

Our audience is individuals from potential public member organizations, codebase communities, donors, staff, and board members.

We believe we’ll find them in fora organized by and for:

  • public technology enthusiasts, for example Code4NL
  • public organization leadership, for example CommonGround or OneTeamGov
  • public organization middle management, for example iBestuur or Apolitical
  • think tanks, for example the Free Software Foundation Europe, Ford Foundation, New America Foundation, Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation or Code for America
  • potential codebase communities and stakeholders - including commercial vendors

Success criteria and indicators for target fora

Note: none of these goals contain ‘hype’ or ‘coolness’. This is because being perceived as trendy or zeitgeisty will not help us build the trustworthy reputation or longterm relationships we need to succeed.

Public tech fora

Our goal for engagement with this group is:

  • they’re aware of us and our mission, and believe this is the right thing to do
  • they engage critically with our content, use it and strengthen it
  • they talk about us with other people

These responses indicate success:

  • being asked to join a conversation
  • Github issues created or contributions to our tools
  • recommendations or referrals
  • joining our events
  • endorsing or boosting our events, co-hosting our events
  • invitations to speak at or contribute to their platforms (publications and events)

Public organization leadership

Our goal for engagement with this group is:

  • they’re aware of us and our mission, and believe this is the right thing to do
  • they believe we can add value to their organizations
  • we’re not an organizational risk to them
  • they think public code is achievable in their organization
  • they’re willing to invest political capital because they think will add to their careers

These responses indicate success:

  • request to prepare something for their leader
  • being asked to join a conversation
  • request for hard copy of our tools (like the Standard for Public Code or Governance Game)
  • recommendations or referrals
  • invitations to speak at or contribute to their platforms (publications and events)
  • request to collaborate on projects through codebase stewardship
  • request to become a member

Middle management

Our goal for engagement with this group is:

  • they’re aware of us and our mission, and believe this is the right thing to do
  • they believe we can add value to their organizations
  • we’re not an organizational risk to them
  • they think public code is achievable in their organization

These responses indicate success:

  • spontaneous recommendations or referrals
  • us being asked to join a conversation
  • requests for our tools in their preferred format or language
  • request for 1:1 contact
  • successfully delivered 1:1 contact
  • codebase specific consultation
  • invitations to speak at/contribute to their platforms (publications and events)
  • references in government policy or strategy documents

Think tanks (influential civil society organizations with intellectual output)

Our goal for engagement with this group is:

  • they’re aware of us and our mission
  • think we’re doing valuable work well
  • for them to see us as a key part of solving the problem
  • public recommendations and referrals from them

These responses indicate success:

  • recommendations or referrals
  • invitations to speak at or contribute to their platforms
  • being asked to collaborate on a thought piece (like an article, research or project)
  • being asked to join a conversation

Potential codebase communities

Our goal for engagement with this group is:

  • they believe we can add value to their projects/organization
  • we’re not a risk to their work
  • think we’re doing valuable work well
  • they think public code is achievable in their project

These responses indicate success:

  • asking for codebase stewardship
  • joining our events
  • being asked to join a conversation
  • request for 1:1 contact
  • successfully delivered 1:1 contact
  • recommendations or referrals
  • Github issues created or contributions to our tools
  • invitations to speak at or contribute to their platforms (publications and events)

Donors and board members

Our goal for engagement with this group is:

  • ongoing commitment to our mission
  • ongoing support for our current activities and approach

These responses indicate success:

  • expressions of interest, encouragement or support
  • recommendations or referrals

How we’ll achieve our goals

We believe this approach will be most effective for having our desired impact on our audience.

For content that we produce, publish or program:

  • doing good work
  • clearly communicating what that work has been done
  • building useful, reusable tools
  • helping others use our tools
  • running interesting events
  • transparently sharing operational information

For other organizations’ content or platforms:

  • giving interesting, timely talks
  • writing useful and interesting articles
  • being written about favorably (press)
  • being established (Wikipedia)
  • being invoked in existing conversations

What we need to do

In our work, we believe these activities will help us meet our goals:

  • practicing high quality, innovative codebase stewardship
  • documentation
  • storytelling
  • broadcasting and sharing stories
  • celebrating successful use of our tools
  • awesome events
  • being reliably available
  • being part of our communities

We’ll also meet our communications goals through working with other people by:

  • pitching talks
  • pitching articles for other platforms
  • helping journalists write about us
  • pitching to journalists and sending press releases
  • creating or updating Wikipedia pages for the Foundation for Public Code and prominent members of the Board of Directors
  • being available for 1:1 consultations, discussions, interviews, “just picking your brain” coffees

Prioritization

Since we can’t do everything all of the time, we prioritize scalablity and reusability. This taxonomy helps us in our planning:

  • public/generic (like our websites)
  • public/customized (like conference talks or authored articles)
  • private/generic (like templated emails)
  • private/customized (like emails)

Unique selling proposition

Though many specific things we do are also offered by other organizations, we’re the only organization focused on open source software for public organizations that does all of this together:

  • is non-profit and member owned with membership only open to public organizations
  • offers codebase stewardship for different projects
  • offers productization and marketing of the codebases
  • actually provides guidance and support to help public organizations make their code open
  • isn’t tied to the EU project lifecycle
  • has a reproducible process suitable not just for cities, but all public organizations
  • is international, not national

We are also actively building our ecosystem by:

  • connecting members with like-minded parties (members and other public organizations, affiliates and structural funders)
  • boosting awareness of public code
  • setting standards and creating reusable resources (by providing thought leadership!)
  • demonstrating the value of public code with well documented, public business cases and risk analyses
  • nurturing our community online, and – where sensible – in person

Channels

Our channels are:

  • Our blog: long form, platform of record (read more about our blog)
  • Twitter: short form, ephemera
  • LinkedIn: share our blogposts or reshare others’ content about us, ephemera (mostly avoid, since it’s a closed platform - even linking to it here breaks our continuous integration)
  • Facebook: medium form, ephemera (mostly avoid, since it’s a closed platform)

Our posting frequency is:

  • Twitter: as often as we have something to say, up to daily. It’s dynamic, responsive, topical
  • Other channels: when we have something to say
  • Blogposts: to be determined based on our news cycle and how much work blogposts turn out to be. Starting guesstimate: we should publish at least once every 3 weeks, and not more than 3 times per week

Scheduling days of the week for maximum engagement:

  • we aim to publish blogposts and jobs on Mondays (for maximum engagement)
  • the bulk of our social media engagement should take place Monday to Thursday

Templates

Staff should use the basic tweet template as a starting point when proposing a new tweet.

Press releases

We rarely create press releases - we believe our news should usually be available to everyone at the same time. Instead, we prefer to:

  • publish our news in blogposts
  • link and share our members’ or others’ news stories and press releases

When we have a press release, we:

  • send it embargoed to press outlets via email first
  • publish it on our blog as news on the scheduled date

Tone of voice

Our general tone of voice is institutional, but with emojis.

Blogposts should have a more personal authorial voice, while still showcasing our authors as professionals and experts.

Messaging matrix

We don’t know what the ideal ratio of audiences to target is yet. We’ll develop as we learn more about who actually engages with us.

Campaigns

We run a campaign every time:

  • someone from the Foundation speaks at an event
  • we host an event
  • we have significant news

Campaign template

This should be tied into general strategy sessions, so we get the maximum impact from each event or milestone. These are generally structured as:

  • announcement that thing is happening (give teaser)
  • join in on other related conversations and hashtags (monitor conversation)
  • tweet about the thing as it’s happening
  • publish blogpost during or afterwards about what happened, plus what we learned or what’s next
  • measure how this worked