Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fedora 15 Release Party: done!

So, we managed to do it!

The Fedora 15 Release party (my first one) was held last Saturday and it was fun indeed. But let's start from the beginning...

Fedora in my area is pretty much undervalued (the local LUG is basically Ubuntu/Debian based and I know very few people using Fedora outside my friends/colleagues circle) so I thought organizing a release party would be a though but exciting challenge.

Marketing the event was done on Facebook, twitter, blog posts, LUG and other relevant mailing lists; we also did direct marketing through a flier we designed and put up on some computer shops and University bulletin boards. Finally, we sent some kind of "press release" to local news websites, and a few picked it up and published the news.

The event was planned at the Evonove Coworking Space, so we had a room with projector,  some space for an install party and another smaller room for food and beverages.

We asked for some media and swag but unfortunately the former is not yet ready and the latter was not available, so we were left with some laptop stickers we previously had; so we decided to stick with burning Live CDs and DVDs as needed and do few "I Love Fedora" t-shirts to use them for a little "contest": the friends from Red Hat offices in Brno sent me the web application used in their release party (a trivia game about Fedora) and we got it (mostly) translated in Italian so the plan was to give away the t-shirts to the best performers.

The Event
The day of the event we gathered a bit earlier and prepared the location: tables, power cords, signs in and outside, food and beverages, etc. Then waited and just before the planned time for the start we already greeted about 20 people! At the end I think there were between 20 and 30 people in the office so we began with the planned presentations.

Michele Bursi, a friend and nearby Ambassador kicked off his presentation about FOSS and licensing, then I followed up with a talk about the Fedora Project, features in the last release and a quick overview of GNOME 3.

There was quite a bit of curiosity about the Shell and most questions were about it, including the common ones "where is the minimize button?", "doesn't it look very similar to Unity?" and "what about applets?"

After the talks we encouraged people to try out the Fedora contest and gathered in the install room where we continued the discussion about Fedora. There were a couple of PCs with Fedora 15 pre-installed to try it out, and some wanted to attempt the installation on their PCs with our assistance.

In the meanwhile, we burned and gave away about a dozen Live CDs and DVDs to those willing to install Fedora at home.

Before closing the event, it was time to assign the prizes for the contest: we checked the results and it turned out the questions were really hard, and the winners answered correctly just half of the questions. We also gave a special prize to the farthest participant (he drove 140+ Km to join us to the party!)



A complete photo gallery is available

Lessons learned
  • work for more coverage on news websites
  • measure which marketing channel worked best
  • be sure to have swag and media
  • find help for the install party


Credits
I would like to thank all that helped me to make this happen, in particular the ambassador Michele Bursi, Massimiliano Pippi and Alessandro Veracchi of Evonove, Jiri Eischmann and Ivana Varekova from Red Hat