SXSW Interactive 2014: Insiders Guide
On Our Team at SXSW....
Mark McClennan, APR
Stephanie is Global Director of Social Media and Digital at MSLGROUP. She is busy building the next-generation agency. She has been recognized as both a thought leader and hands-on counselor in social and digital media for 15 years. Stephanie is a veteran of SXSW and the founder of the Social Media Lounge (a hub for digital influencers inside the ACC).
Congratulations. Youre attending SXSW Interactive, one of the top communications trend events in the world. We recognize what you get out of your investment in time and resources is directly proportional to your investment in preparation. So, we asked some of our veteran SXSWi attendees what they think.
Troy Brown is currently Senior Vice President at MSLGROUP in Atlanta where he leads DSM (Digital/Social/Mobile) strategy. He is a much heralded new media executive with demonstrated skills in creative DSM insights, strategy, campaign development & execution, branded content development & distribution, strategic marketing, and business development.
Marcy Massura leads the digital and social operations of MSLGROUPs West Coast region. She also serves as a member of the agencys digital executive team and is the Influence and Community lead for MSLGROUP in North America.
Mark is a senior vice president at Schwartz MSL Boston where he heads its Consumer Technology and Insights practice groups. He has been going to SXSW for years. When not at SXSW, he provides strategic counsel for clients including Ancestry.com, LifeLock, Fiserv and Epocrates.
Main Cover Photo Credit: Tricia Daniel / Shutterstock.com
SXSW Interactive is a big show in a small city. That creates the expected tension between resources and need. There will be crowds, lines and waits. However, the show is manageable if you keep some basic guidelines in mind as you prepare for your SXSW 2014 adventure:
Bring comfortable shoes. Youll be walking and standing more than you expect or plan.
Be prepared for some strategic socializing. The SXSW speakers and sessions are incredible, but the lounges and parties are where you really learn and make connections. Be courageous and remember to bring business cards!
Take along extra chargers and batteries. Dont depend too much on technology being available. What? Isnt this a conference about technology? Right. But, the WiFi is still almost always overloaded, signals will fade in and out and your battery will run out of juice long before you do. The solution: bring extra batteries, a portable charger and have the hutzpah to ask to borrow the technical fruits of others when you are desperate. Also know that you can charge up at the lounges; striking up a conversation at a charging station is a great way to meet new friends.
Bring your running shoes. The trails along the Colorado River are wonderfully flat, and there is no better way to experience the Austin atmosphere than with an early morning run or walk, before the city wakes up.
Keep your own stash of snacks and water. Stop at the Wag-A-Bag or another convenience store on the way from the airport or on the outskirts of town or near the hotel. Or, better yet, pack your luggage with some pretzels and water bottles. The lines for SXSW events are long. You dont want to miss your prime seat in the 10th row just because you need libation.
Be aware of the weather. Austin in March has a wide range of weather. Check the forecast before going and pack accordingly.
Download the 2014 SXSW GO app. This is the official app for SXSW, and it includes schedules, events and SXSW keynotes, a map of locations, and the ability to sync with your SXSW account.
As You Are Planning and Packing
Austin is a very walkable city, especially if your hotel is downtown. Look for the SXSW Interactive shuttle buses to help you get from location to location. However, here are some additional things to keep in mind:
If you are driving, use the secret garage. If you didnt manage to snag a hotel within walking distance of SXSW events dont despair. There is a garage on 2nd street. If you get there early, you can probably snag a spot. Its just two blocks away from the convention center. And then, when heading out to that evening gathering, it is an easy walk to your car where can drop your gear.
Grab a new friend and explore. Not literally, of course. But you should approach this adventure as an opportunity to make and meet new friends and contacts. Especially explore the music scene. There is live music every night all over Austin, so read the sign posts, collect the postcards youll be handed at every street corner, explore and have fun!
Keep time available for the random opportunity. Dont overschedule your time. Leave things relatively flexible. Permit yourself to indulge in that random and spontaneous world that is SXSW 2014.
Keep an ABC list of panels and SXSW speakers. First choice full? No prob if you have your B list. You may even need your C list. The point is, make a list, tier your selections and check it twice. This list strategy will become your lifeline to a productive schedule, even when your priority plans fail.
View a SXSW keynote from a satellite. Unless you feel a compelling need to take in a keynote at the Convention Center, you may want to avoid the crowds. Most keynotes are shown in satellite locations, often rooms where other interesting sessions will be held immediately afterward. These locations are less crowded and give you quality networking time with those having similar interests. Satellite keynote locations are in each of the different venues.
Follow the conversation on Twitter, but dont let Twitter own your every move. At a party and see tweets about another party across town? Do you bail and party hop? Or, do you wait for things at your event to open up? Sometimes, its better not to become Twitter-insecure and spend your night chasing everyone elses good time. Try to relax and enjoy.
Hang at the convention center and its lounges. Build a strategy to run into interesting people for unexpected conversations that might inspire you. In particular, check
out The PayPal Social Media Lounge located on the 4th floor in Room 19 A/B. For the 7th year in a row, TechSet celebrates the intersection of technology, creativity and influence (plus some great Hollywood types that stop by). This year PayPal is adding even more amenities. Also, for those whose passion point is people in social good, the Beacon is a must do! See the full list of lounges here: SXSW Lounges
Whether your goal is to gain career advice on women in leadership or to meet a new friend, consider the Women 2.0 Meet-up. Some of the smartest women in business today will discuss everything from the challenges of leadership to striking a healthy work/ life balance.
Surviving in Austin...
SXSW Keynote Sessions are must-see events. SXSW Interactive has a long tradition of lining up some of the worlds most inspiring speakers with innovative ideas and stories. The SXSW keynote events run from 2-3 p.m. each day in Exhibit Hall 5 of the Austin Convention Center. These presentations take the form of either a solo talk, an interview, or a conversation between two individuals. This year, you will have the opportunity to see Austin Kleon, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Anne Wojicki, Adam Savage and Chelsea Clinton. They are must-attend events for anyone with a show badge. We especially look forward to legendary astrophysicist, author and science communicator Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, who will be the featured keynote on Saturday, March 8.
We also encourage a Attendees are also encouraged to check out the Featured Sessions to hear from the top names behind some of the industrys most innovative trends and important conversations. This years line-up of SXSW speakers includes Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, Jurgen Klinsmann, the head coach of the U.S. Mens National Soccer Team that will compete in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Randi Zuckerberg, Bob Mankoff, Rob Rhinehart, and Biz Stone. We would also like to call special attention to a Featured Session with our own CEO. MSLGROUP CEO Olivier Fleurot will join with Pete Cashmore, the founder and CEO of Mashable, and moderated by Joanna Coles, Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan at the Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 5 at 12:30 p.m. for:
SXSW 2014 Keynotes and Featured Sessions...
Generation Mash-Up: Y Bother?
Never has the spotlight shined so brightly on a single generation. But in todays transformational workplace, Generation Y not only gets the light, they have the might; and through their social media expertise, they claim the right to be the center of the conversation. In a lively debate about Gen Y at work, Pete Cashmore, the Scottish Millennial who founded Mashable and is now its CEO, joins together with the quintessential French Baby Boomer, Olivier Fleurot, CEO of global PR firm MSLGROUP, and former CEO of The Financial Times.
Pete and Olivier are from different generations, have different styles and their own strong opinions on the values Generation Y brings to the world of business, how to manage the Gen Y geniuses in their midst and how Millennials are changing business. While they may not agree about the business impact that Millennials will have on the future, Pete and Olivier are both passionate ab