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Pop quiz: what we learned from today's DevRel pros
Jul 17th, 2023

Pop quiz: what we learned from today's DevRel pros

👋 This blog post is based on responses to our quiz, What type of DevRel are you?, not our current Developer Relations Compensation & Culture survey. If you’d like to share your experience and help create a healthier and more equitable DevRel community for all, you can take that survey here.

When we sponsored Hoopy’s latest report, DevRel job titles and career progression, it was a good reminder of the sheer variety of developer relations roles.

We were curious how it resonated with today’s DevRel professionals, so we did what any highly scientific researcher would do: We created a lighthearted quiz designed to tell people what kind of DevRel professional they are.

At the time of this writing, 116 people have participated. We created the quiz as a fun diversion, but beyond the humor (it turns out the vast majority of DevRel pros have not attended Burning Man more than twice in the past 10 years), some interesting insights emerged.

Feel free to take the quiz yourself, or, if you like, check out three of the most interesting takeaways below, including:

  • Which teams DevRel pros tend to report to
  • Why DevRel pros are busier than ever
  • How DevRel pros view their work in terms of business impact

1. Most DevRel pros ladder up to marketing

Developer relations is synonymous with highly technical products and highly technical people, but DevRel pros tend to fall under go-to-market teams.

While approximately 22% of quiz takers said their manager is on the engineering team and 11% said their manager is on the product team, nearly 31% said their manager is on the marketing team.

Image showing survey result for what team managers are on

This is in line with the results of our 2022 Developer Relations Compensation Report, which showed that 32.7% of survey respondents reported to the marketing department.

It makes sense, as many of the day-to-day responsibilities of DevRel professionals are associated with marketing activities.

This also gives the people who work in DevRel a chance to collaborate more closely with their marketing collagues and better align their programs with bottom-line business metrics.

As Michael Cooksey, Head of XM Community at Qualtrics, put it in a recent event:

“There are certain types of metrics that leaders want to see, because quite frankly, that's the way leaders think. A lot of times leaders think in terms of dollars, or financial bottom lines. And so we package up certain types of metrics in a way that meets that need.”

2. DevRel responsibilities run the gamut

DevRel professionals have very full plates.

Case in point:

  • Approximately 44% of quiz takers generally agreed that technical writing is a big part of their workload and that they regularly contribute to documentation.
  • More than 50% of quiz takers generally agreed that they regularly speak at events.
  • Nearly 80% of quiz takers generally agreed that they often create public-facing content, such as blog posts or how-to videos.
💡 Most of our questions asked quiz takers to select a number on a sliding scale, with 1 meaning “Disagree,” 3 meaning “Neutral,” and 5 meaning “Agree.” We define all answers of 4 and 5 as “generally agreed.”

This is very much in keeping with our 2022 Developer Relations Compensation Report, which showed that the top three roles and responsibilities among DevRel professionals were:

  1. Creating educational content and resources (74.1%)
  2. Delivering in-person talks and workshops (63.9%)
  3. Building brand awareness and affinity (43.5%)

It’s a smart move on the part of companies—DevRel pros are among the most plugged in when it comes to a company's products and the people who use them.

Nearly 76% of quiz takers generally agreed that they have a deep understanding of their product and could demo it in their sleep. Meanwhile, approximately 71% generally agreed that they have a deep understanding of customer needs and don’t shy away from sharing that feedback internally.

Of course, there are only so many hours in a day. This makes it essential for DevRel pros to automate manual, time-consuming tasks where they can in order to focus on higher-impact work.

3. Most DevRel pros understand their business impact

The majority of DevRel professionals—nearly 72%—generally agreed that they have a clear understanding of how their work impacts their companies.

Image showing survey result for how DevRel pros view business impact

That’s particularly important in today’s economic environment. DevRel pros are increasingly being asked to prove return on investment.

As Tyler Hannan, Senior Director of Developer Advocacy at ClickHouse, put it in a recent community education event:

“For years I joked that DevRel was a travel agency that was measured in hugs and high fives, and then all of a sudden it was like, ‘And what's your revenue contribution?’”

But understanding the impact of your work and knowing how to demonstrate it are two different things. According to DevRelX’s Developer Program Leaders Survey, 22% of DevRel pros highlight defining KPIs, metrics, or ROI as a main challenge.

DevRel professionals approach this in different ways. For example, as Anna Filippova, Senior Director of Community and Data at dbt Labs, shared in a recent event, she pays close attention to metrics that naturally align with the customer lifecycle, such as those related to community growth, community involvement, and community champions.

“When you take those three things together, they represent [...] the different aspects of that business journey and that funnel."

As DevRel teams come under more pressure to connect their programs to bottom-line metrics, the ability to spotlight business impact in tangible ways will only become more important.

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