I’m going to go ahead and put the “24 hours” part of this post in quotation marks, because I am taking some serious liberties with the timeline here. But I think it’s appropriate since the concept of time when you are at SXSW doesn’t work the same way as it does back in the rest of the world – the days slip by in a blur of tech talk and queso, and before you know it the experience is over.
But the time that you DO have on the ground is spent meeting some amazing people from the seemingly disparate worlds of tech startups, venture capital, digital production, non-profit, and entertainment – all of whom are plugged in and constantly on the go throughout the week. Here’s a quick snapshot of what I found to be the most memorable and relevant moments from my time in Austin:
Media Plaforms and Publishers
On Monday I attended an awesome session about the shift that’s happening within media companies from simply publishing content, to serving as a community platform for crowd-sourcing info. Led by Zach Seward, Senior Editor at Quartz, the open discussion was a great reminder that we, as PR pros, need to start thinking about new “ways in” when pitching outlets. There are more and more opportunities to enlist influencers to create content on our behalf, i.e. the HuffPo model.
As I mentioned, there are a million people at SXSW from different industries, and maybe attending a keynote address by Lena Dunham seems like a waste of time, but you guys – GIRLS is amazing!!! The interesting thing about her talk though was that the message truly translates. The thing I took away is that the story you are telling (whatever that story may be) needs to be authentic in order to resonate with an audience. I especially took these words to heart as our agency continues to develop social content on behalf of brands.
Bribery is an Effective Tool
Also, outside the media and tech conversation in Austin, SXSW is a great place to check out the latest in big branded activations and do a bit of competitive research. And I can tell you this: if you want to get people to interact with your brand, give them something more than just free product. A free ride from a branded Chevy Impala when the city is choked with people and there isn’t a cab in sight – helpful. A coupon for $1.00 that I need to go online to redeem – not interested.
Also, (and I know I’ve been skirting the issue a bit) there are plenty of chances to drink during SXSW. And guess what? An open bar and a Biz Markie performance is a GREAT way to get people in the door.