As we promised, we will be reporting from the mayhem and madness of SXSW Interactive 2013 from today, so as a little taster we thought we ...

In search of digital's holy grail


As we promised, we will be reporting from the mayhem and madness of SXSW Interactive 2013 from today, so as a little taster we thought we would share our preparation in the run up to the event.

Having attended SXSW 2012 we approached this year adopting the military adage ‘Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance’ – in short, this means reviewing a few simple learnings from last year...

  • ...turn up last minute expecting to be at peak performance – jet lagged and unprepared – it is a marathon not a sprint and as with everything in life being prepared is key for the best result
  • ...feel guilty – FOMO is a well used term here – sign up to everything, read the previews, ask friends and colleagues and clients
  • ...try to do too much – yes burn the candle but take time during the day – chat, take it in – you never now where the next interesting chat , big idea or serendipitous meeting is coming.

However, do:
  • ...keep an open mind and keep learning / observing
  • ...share everything - people loved it
  •, network, network – not just with our American cousins but also other UK companies and beyond
  • ...ensure the instillation of ongoing curiosity continues beyond the event...

These in mind, we've decided to create & follow a set of 'SXSW 2013 Commandments' based on our learnings from last year:


1. Be Prepared
  • You can’t fly direct to Austin so decided to travel out earlier to SF – see associated Clients and agency partners – Skype and concalls are wonderful but don’t replace f2f
  • Book accommodation – hotels in Austin are eye watering expensive ($500+ for a hotel 5 miles from downtown) so we used AirBnB  – if you don’t know it look it up – it will be going Global soon – it was a fantastic experience so far and a lovely flat.
  • Sign up to stuff early – events, meet ups, parties, apps etc. – Eventbrite is awesome and everyone seems to use it which is great as the app keeps all the bookings on the phone.
  • Do the research – read previews on Mashable, think about themes and big questions
  • Look up who else is going – past colleagues, partners, old friends / acquaintances etc. and arrange to meet them – some we never have time to meet in London we spent time with last year in Austin.
  • Plan time in advance – we developed a mammoth spreadsheet with all the options.

2. Be the eyes and ears
  • Not everyone can come – we decided to offer to be our key contacts and Clients representative in Austin – the on the ground reporter !
  • Ask for input from everyone including our own employees – ensures focused time over there
  • Look out for new themes, which we identified as:
  1. Commerce -  in all shapes and forms – Social, Mobile, E-commerce…… but most importantly how can it be integrated into genuine user experiences. 
  2. Mobile – again across the board – as this has become the interface for consumer interaction – what are the opportunities for brands ?
  3. Social Channels – has Facebook had its day ? Is there room for another ? Is it all going integrate or separate ?
  4. Content, content, content – what is the future ? How do brand create, aggregate and use it ?
  5. Big data – everything about the future of data and most importantly how it can be used efficiently and sensibly.
  6. New technology for brands – what technologies are brands taking advantage of and what could they be used in the future ?
  7. And finally just any cool stuff that is out there. Including some room for curiosity

3. Embrace FOMO
  • You cant be everywhere but make sure where you are is useful and rewarding
  • Pick 1-2 key events / keynotes / talks / panels and get there early
  • Find 3-4 maybe’s just in case it is full / you don’t get there

4. Have fun
  • There are 4-5 parties / get togethers each night – all free and some full v early – plan and execute carefully but make sure you don’t overdo it
  • Networking is the number 1 most important pastime – not just to meet people but to get their opinion and their assimilation of everyone’s else’s opinion – everybody at SXWW has something to say
  • Pack properly – Austin is hot and humid but it also rains (a lot) and it is very casual – save the better clothes for the parties !
  • Look after yourself – don’t overdo booze, eat well and exercise
  • Remember it is not just Interactive – have a look at film and music too

So, T-24hrs until kick-off. We can't wait to share with you the edited highlights of the next 6 days of mayhem, so watch this space! They say what happens in Austin stays on FAcebook, Twitter & Instagram forever so if you want to catch-up with us in the morning, you can find us here:

See y'all soon!

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