"What department does Developer Relations belong in?" is one of the questions that comes up with almost every single one of my clients, and I understand -- it's a hard one! We explored this briefly (and controversially) last week, and it's a topic a lot of you feel strongly about!
Greg Bulmash replied with this thought:
If DevRel feels they aren't Marketing; that they have to teach Marketing how to do their jobs; that they have nothing to learn from Marketing, then there's something wrong with that company. Every customer-facing role needs to be providing feedback to Marketing and getting support from Marketing. Any company where most customer-facing staff dislike Marketing is one where something is broken.
While I'm not a huge proponent of DevRel sitting within marketing, I have to agree with him! If there is a disconnect between what DevRel is doing and what Marketing (or Product, or Engineering) is doing, there are going to be major issues with the company's strategy for reaching community members and new customers.
So what do I tell my clients? I think many of us who have been in the industry for a little while feel more inclined toward one department or another based on what's worked for us in the past, but at the end of the day, no matter what department we wind up in (even if we're the unicorn who gets our own C-suite of DevRel), we have to work across all of the teams.
We must be able to work well with every department -- sharing ideas, collaborating, supporting, guiding. At the end of the day, that's what sets us apart and makes us valuable. We have the ability to speak to the technical side of the issue, while at the same time understanding what marketing and sales tactics are more likely to work for our community, and helping amplify the voices of other technical staff throughout the company.
So while I have some strong feelings on the matter, what works for one company may not work for another, and vice versa. It's about supporting your team, recognizing their value, and helping them show that value on a regular basis.
Thoughts? Feelings? I know this is a hard topic for some... hit reply and let me know what you think!