O’Reilly Media

It was 1998. A small up-and-coming company named Google had just launched its first implementation of a bare-bone search engine, tech IPOs were making stock traders dizzy with possibility, and the air in Silicon Valley was thick with the heady perfume of innovation.

oreilly-sq.jpg.fullSimone had been penning geeky press releases about geeky books for about half a year for niche technology book publisher O’Reilly Media when her boss came into the office one day, popped herself into a chair, and pronounced: “Sooooo – there’s this new thing called a ‘blog’. I want you to check it out.”

She did – and thus was born Simone’s love for grassroots marketing. Over the course of the next 3 years as the company’s Technology Evangelist, she created and managed the “O’Reilly Evangelist Program” – a guerrilla organization of key tech influencers, bloggers, and innovators.  It included such luminaries as blogging pioneer Cameron Barrett and Slashdot’s Jeff Bates, and was designed to give them the tools to spread the word about O’Reilly’s books, product lines and events to their peers and readers, drive traffic to its sites and further awareness of the company brand.


Secret agent evangelistPeople liked it. Someone was kind enough to include her in their book and even bestowed an award on her; someone else wrote a case study about the program.

In the end, the results spoke for themselves: under Simone’s leadership, this legion of advocates created positive buzz about the company on- and offline, cheerfully promoting O’Reilly’s products through campaigns, contests, and give-aways, and eagerly disseminatingd content from O’Reilly’s network of websites to their communities. Taking the pulse of the market through them, Simone fed intelligence back to editorial, marketing, and sales staff which helped shape the direction of O’Reilly’s publishing calendar. Website traffic increased from 550,000 to 1.8 million unique visitors/month.

The fact is – online community building and activism works. It did back then, and it’s more important now than ever. Briefing professional journalists about your product or company is great and necessary – but don’t forget to reach out to those people who write about a subject because they’re passionate about it. Their voices are often more valued and respected by their audiences because they come from an unpaid, unbiased source.

Want us to build community for you? Contact us now for a quote.


“Simone and I first met when I was the Editor-in-Chief at a tech zine/blog in the nineties. She was by far the best evangelist I had the pleasure of meeting and engaging with – far surpassing the product evangelists and publicists at Adobe and Apple. Her approach and personality are the number one reason that O’Reilly Books managed to secure frequent mentions and reviews on the site. She is a genuine and personable person and it shows in the great results that she delivers.”

– Adam Zarudny, Marketing + Creative Director at Yogen Fruz

“Simone was a great participant of defined (and undefined) technological communities, becoming part of the audience/group and understanding their needs. As such, she could promote new technologies, our products, and our brand in a consultative fashion. She also leveraged information and feedback to help support marketing and product development.”
– Glen Gillmore, Business Systems Analyst at University of California Press

“Simone was a lot of fun to work with. She was excellent at getting the word out, but at the same time really had a good sense of how the tech landscape was changing and could integrate those changes into her strategy quickly.”
– Tara Calishain, Editor @ ResearchBuzz + author of several books on search engine technology

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