On Leading the Make WordPress Marketing Team

Bridget Willard

With the recent announcement that my friend Joost de Valk has been appointed the Marketing & Communications Lead whose role includes leading the Marketing Team, this is an ideal time for me to retire from my role on the Make WordPress Marketing Team.

“Secondly, Joost de Valk ( @joostdevalk ) will take on the role of Marketing & Communications Lead. You might know him as a long time core contributor and plugin author. His role will be to lead the marketing team and oversee improving WordPress.org, related websites, and all its outlets.” Matt Mullenweg

Leadership in the WordPress Project is meant to ebb and flow. My good friend and mentor Andrea Middleton gave a great talk at WordCamp Cincinnati describing it as a bazaar where people come in and out. You should watch it.

As a single woman who is self-employed, this is a good opportunity for me to spend my billable time on something, well, billable, and doing much-needed client work.

Leadership is Behavior Not a Title

I am ridiculously proud of the work that I’ve done over the last two years building a marketing team that was previously lacking momentum and motivation. I built a team of eight Team Reps. We have published over 50 pieces of content including the About Page for 4.8, a Case Study for Rolling Stone, and the Trac Quickstart Guide. We now have 202 people on our Trello Board. That’s up from maybe a dozen people at Contributor Day WCUS 2016. By the time I was leading at WordCamp Europe in 2017, we had 30 people.

It’s the job of the leader to see who is participating and what their passions and skill sets are. I’m proud of the Team Reps I’ve recruited and the company culture we have created in Slack — someone is always being warmly welcomed as soon as they join the team.

I picked up Dwayne in Atlanta, who along with Yvette who I got in Paris, have set up and managed our Trello board and tasking system. Dwayne has been my right-hand man, scrum master, and collector of tears. Yes, there were tears. It was a tough job leading a Marketing Team with no front-facing publishing ability besides the Marketing Blog and WordPress.TV. Together, we formulated a vision that would be successful and be a good use of the highly-qualified marketers that were donating their (very expensive) billable time to this beautiful project.

Jen has been my SEO editor and champion for the team, always welcoming everyone and helping at Contributor Days. Maedah has been a great rep, always helping with notes and eventually being the one who publishes them. She and Yvette do that now.

Mike has taken on the initiative of high-level projects like Five for the Future and interfacing with the Growth Council and their projects. Harry has been a great project manager, setting the week’s agenda, and has taken over leading the case studies that David Skarjune began before he retired. Siobhan joined us after Nijmegen and has been trained by Dwayne to lead the weekly meetings in addition to taking on an editorial role.

All of them have helped us build a handbook and partner with the design team to create a brand and style guide to help guide how the team functions.

I am confident that we have a working and well-oiled machine. There is good infrastructure and leadership for this transition with Joost. Since Joost has been a major part of the Meta Team, the Marketing Team is now in a position to help contribute to front-facing projects on dot org.

Would I do it again? Yes.

Whether or not Team Rep or Team Lead is the appropriate title, I’m proud of my behavior and if asked to do it again, knowing what I know now, I would absolutely do it again. I am proud of the high-level strategies, work recruiting, and relationships that I’ve built in order to make this project be as successful as it is, given the handicaps it had, in a short period of time.

Retiring from the Team Rep role does not mean I’m leaving the community or the project. I believe in the WordPress Project. I believe in the WordPress community. I believe in the people that I have met in this project. At my core I believe in the mission of WordPress to “democratize publishing“ and “give a voice to the voiceless.“

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