When Rebecca Dodd joined GitLab in 2016, the company blog was “kind of like a free-for-all.” With “everyone can contribute” as their mission and transparency as one of their values, employees have always felt empowered to write. That meant content was easy to find, but it also meant publishing at will: no calendar and no formal review process. It worked for a startup, but GitLab has grown a lot in the last few years, and Rebecca has been scaling the blog along with it by implementing processes for pitching, editing, optimizing, and redirecting content to other channels. As Managing Editor, she leads her editorial team in creating stories to help their audience and enabling other GitLab employees to do the same.
Between GitLab’s public handbook covering how your team works, and the GitLab.com project page, there’s a level of transparency that you don’t see from most publications, even company blogs. Are there advantages and disadvantages to that?
I imagine it’s probably more of a challenge for our corporate communications team, where they might have news under embargo. Occasionally that touches us on the blog, like if there’s an announcement that we would share in a blog post, there’s currently no way to stage it without it being public. That’s something that causes a lot of friction, but otherwise, it’s really nice to know that anything I tell you would be public anyway. I’m not worried about sharing something inadvertently that no one should know about, because it’s all there in the handbook.
It’s a very big shift in mindset for most people coming in as a marketer, because you’re used to working behind closed doors and also having everything be polished before anyone else sees it. Whereas [at GitLab] you can see all of the works in progress and there’s a software development-style attitude of just shipping it as soon as it’s ready, and you can go back and patch it later if something isn’t quite right. That’s quite liberating in some ways, but it’s very uncomfortable as a marketer. I’m still working on that.[Read more…] about Rebecca Dodd: Don’t compete with your own content