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Jul 22, 2005

PR Interview: How to Reach Developers using SQL and .Net Online

SUMMARY: Do you want to influence thousands of developers using Microsoft .NET framework or SQL servers? Discover the rules and regs for PR people and marketers who want to hang out at the Junkies community sites. Yes, you can post news releases in the approved spots. Here's our interview with Executive Editor John Dorsey.
John Dorsey, Executive Editor, CMP

-> Circulation

2.4-2.8 million page views per month for both sites total (with majority going to

-> Dorsey's background

Dorsey has worked in publishing for over 15 years, with 10 of those covering technology. Prior to CMP, he served at Fawcette Publishing as Managing Editor, helping to launch Java Pro magazine.

At CMP, he was Senior Editor, Digital Media at Dr. Dobb's Journal before becoming Editor-in-Chief of Windows Developer (which was eventually folded into Dr. Dobb's Journal).

"I feel like, with the advances in the Web, we still haven't tapped the full potential for communication and it's an exciting time," he says. He particularly enjoys watching and experiencing the migration from print magazines to the ability everyone has to share opinions, "and not just on the letters to the editor page. We typically find that developers have no shortage of opinions and they like sharing what they know."

-> Current editorial coverage has been a community Web site for developers using the Microsoft .NET Framework since July 2000., created by founders Doug Seven and Donny Mack and launched in 2003 is a community for developers to come and learn about building solutions using Microsoft SQL Server while being part of a collaborative community of peers.

"When developers see other people struggling with the same problems they have, it's very rewarding to say, 'Hey, I face that same challenge, and here's my solution,'" says Dorsey, about community members.

The majority of content on both sites is written by members rather than professional writers. Some content, however, is pulled from other CMP properties (Dr. Dobb's Journal, CRN, Information Week, etc.).

-> Best way to get your content published

Though the two sites were acquired by CMP Media in April 2005, the founders remain the main editorial contacts:

Doug Seven: Donny Mack:

A number of means exist to get content published:

a. Blog

Anybody can set up a blog "and they essentially are their own publisher," says Dorsey. "There is very little control over what they're posting day-to-day. Nobody's editing it, checking for typos."

Obviously, he adds, obscene material will be removed, and if you're consistently posting nonsense that's off-topic, you would get bumped, "but it is essentially the Wild West."

The best posts, he says, are short (200 words) paragraphs. They might say, "'Hey, guess what I heard,' maybe include a link," Dorsey explains. They might talk about specific problems or limitations of a particular aspect and share new implementations or code to solve the problem.

b. Articles

Posted articles are different from the blogs in that they are reviewed and vetted by the editors.

Generally, they run from a few paragraphs to about 1,000 words and are often fleshed out with code snippets. You can submit articles to the editors or use the submission form online.

If the submitted article is particularly useful, it may be considered for a feature article, which changes every week. How do you get your article to be the week's feature? "Chocolate and proffered sweets are always a good way," Dorsey jokes. But really, he says, all articles will be considered for the feature, but chosen articles are generally more robust than a couple of paragraphs.

"Occasionally [the editors] will see a blog posting that is substantial and they will contact the blogger and say, 'Hey, this is really good, we want to make it a feature article.'"

In fact, if you posted something as a blog item and wanted to make sure it was considered, you could email Doug or Donny and ask them to take a look at it, suggests Dorsey.

c. Discussions

A good member is involved in the community, says Dorsey. "The blogs are essentially the beginning of any discussion thread," he explains. "But then there are forums that are pretty wide-ranging. You can post job openings or just discuss everything under the sun."

d. News listings

By and large, these are press releases, monitored but not edited or proofed. These can be news, product releases, etc.

-> "Rules" for posting

The rule of thumb on any developer site is that, if you're in full disclosure, you can say pretty much anything without offending anyone. So if someone posts a problem, and your company has a solution, you can say, "I'm from this company, we have this product, I think it will solve your problem," Dorsey explains.

"But if you say, 'I've just read the most fascinating book and you should go buy it,' and it happens to be published by the company you work for and you didn't disclose it, that's frowned upon."

Not every solution posted is a free solution, he sums up.

Posting off-topic is okay, too, as long as it's occasional, such as: "'Here's a picture of me waiting on line for 'Revenge of the Sith,' that's perfectly fine," says Dorsey. "Those things aren't taken down with draconian hand, it's what gives the site flavor."

-> Pet peeves

"Ages ago," Dorsey recalls, "I received an email from a gal and she'd cc'd her whole mailing list -- not blind cc'd. I'm seeing big time players, CEOs of these companies, and here I have their email addresses."

See Also:

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