Guest Post: Live and In-Person Rules At SXSW

Have you heard? Last week, there was an event down in Austin, TX called SXSW. We hear it was pretty big. You may have seen a few tweets about it.

Among the many from the PR world who attended were Waggener Edstrom. While there, they talked about some of the firm’s digital tools. Today, Kent Hollenbeck, SVP of marketing and comms, is talking about some of the observations and key takeaways from the event. Any key points you’d like to note? Please share in the comments section or @PRNewser.

SXSW Interactive – Spring Break for Influence Geeks by Kent Hollenbeck, Waggener Edstrom

Collective heads, and thumbs (all that tweeting!), at Waggener Edstrom Worldwide (WE) are finally starting to settle from the buzz at this year’s SXSWi. Creativity flowed everywhere – in the presentations at the conference, on the street and at the bar.

Unlike Hollywood for the entertainment industry, or New York, London and Hong Kong for the business and financial communities, the world of digital influence doesn’t have a traditional “industry town.” There is no central beacon for those drawn by the call of influence and engagement to flock towards. Or there wasn’t, until SXSWi emerged as the place to be for those in the community to gather, share and learn about how the evolving influence landscape is shaping the future.

Many of us at Waggener Edstrom participated at the conference on behalf of our clients, but this year WE sent ambassadors down south to take part in the dialogue on our own behalf. At a Social Saloon event and via our Hot Spots in Austin App , developed in-house, we created a hub for what was being talked about most during SXSW and helped people find the most popular places to hang out.

One of the biggest takeaways from the WE team on the ground was (some may say ironically) that even as the trend toward digital interactivity grows stronger, the need for face-to-face interactivity still trumps it.

Here are a few more things that caught the collective WE eye of employees Tac Anderson, Eric Berto and Tim Sears, as relayed in their voices:

  • Best talk: @Garyvee. “I had never attended a Gary Vaynerchuk talk in-person before, though I had seen many of them online. He truly knows how to captivate an audience by being assertive and passionate, and he even breaks down the physical barriers between the speaker and the audience. At one point, he walked into the crowd to address an attendee just so he could look her in the eyes and ask her questions directly. It was a truly powerful technique.”
  • Best overall startup marketing: CrowdTap. “CrowdTap felt like they were everywhere, yet nowhere all at once. I saw their marketing collateral everywhere I went, but it wasn’t as big and robust as GroupedIn’s truck that drove by the convention center all day, or the GroupMe grill right across the street. What made CrowdTap really stick for me was that they had a street team out in full force, meeting people and developing relationships.”
  • Best app feature: Simplicity. “When it comes to apps, simplicity is the most important feature. This year’s ‘break out’ group messaging apps, GroupMe and Belluga, are essentially group texting. But they’re simple and useful.”
  • Best “that makes sense” tip: “You can get 10x more done by not waiting in line for free beer.”
  • Best tip for setting expectations: “South by Southwest is not where you go to learn cutting-edge digital strategies or have a quiet coffee with a top influencer. It’s where you go to give walk-by high fives to that random guy with 30,000 Twitter followers or give a hug to that successful blogger and conference organizer. For an event such as South by Southwest, you cannot schedule serendipity.”
  • One-sentence summary: “There is no better opportunity to connect, interact and learn from some of the best digital minds.”

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