Tag Archives: conferences

Public Relations at South by Southwest

We’ve had it on our calendars for months. March 10-15, Austin, TX. South by Southwest.

Maybe you have a client making an announcement there. Maybe a new, young startup out to change the world. Maybe you represent a global brand rolling into town with a caravan. As a communications pro, you have a game plan. You’ve got your metrics and deliverables all set. It’s time to put those away for a minute.

It’s time to figure out how you’re going to be a part of the amoeba-like mass that manages to keep in a constant state of motion. How do you, as a PR/communications counselor extract personal and professional value from an event such as SXSW?

Meeting in meat space

Jason Falls and Becky McCray at SXSW 2009. That's how I get down..

I can’t stress enough just how important relationships are. Even in today’s world of perpetual connectivity, it can be difficult to foster and grow a relationship without being present. Without being part of the conversations that happen in the real world. Without interaction. That’s why in order for you to extract value from SXSW, you need to embrace the subtitle of the conference: Interactive.

Set up coffees/happy hours/brunches with the folks that will be there that are outside your core list of media. Recognize other influencers such as the corporate bloggers of your company’s customers or analysts that tend to create more real-time content.

It’s really hard to be a part of the mix from our offices. It’s difficult to maintain the currency of the PR industry — relationships — when the majority of people that we interact with are based at least two states away. There is inherent value to meeting with somebody in person.

Disconnect and connect

SXSW 2009
Me and @Hawaii, aka Ryan Ozawa at SXSW, 2009.

As you look at the events that your clients want to be a part of beyond SXSW, keep a part of your planning dedicated to “how can I serve my clients aside from hosting meetings?”

You’re going to recap the event. Why not add a little color to it? If you’re at a tradeshow, fire up the video recorder of choice and take a tour of the show floor. Set up a Tumblr, Posterous account or posts for your company or agency’s blog to document the event in real time. I also like to take pictures at the events I go to.

A few folks have written posts recently either defending why to go to SXSW or why not to go to SXSW. In my opinion, it is one of the single-most conferences you can attend as a PR person.

Conversations go both ways

Do you follow folks on Twitter? Do you subscribe to their RSS? Maybe it’s as easy as having a two-sentence “nice to meet you” email in your drafts you can send 30 seconds after you connect with somebody. The point is, you just met somebody, foster that relationship. You never know who you’re going to meet.

A community or relationship does not occur spontaneously. They must be curated, maintained and developed. By having a strategy in place of how you as an individual communications counselor can continue to build your own little community after each event, you will see a significant increase in your event ROI.

As we look forward to South by Southwest, community building should be one of the guiding factors of our presence down there. In order to influence the conversation, we must be part of the conversation. We must become influencers ourselves in order to influence the influencers. This is why we go to SXSW.

Why are you going to SXSW?

Go Where Nobody Knows Your Name

Two handsHow many conferences/seminars have you been to this year?  How many more do you plan on attending?  How many of those seminars/conferences are for PR professionals?

If you need two hands to count I suggest you stop.  A wise PR professional once said (during one of those redundant PR conferences) to stop going where the PR people are and head to the trenches.  Go where the journalist are and get to know them.  Last month I had the opportunity to attend the 2nd Annual Travel Blog Exchange, a two day “conference” of travel bloggers/writers looking to learn from each other and share their experiences.  Overall it was the perfect chance to meet some of the people I’ve gotten to know via Twitter, just like every other conference, but more importantly it also gave me an inside look into the life of a travel writer.  In case you’re unaware, this is important to me as I recently started my career as a travel publicist. 🙂 Continue reading

What’s Important to Know?

Climate Change And Global Pollution To Be Discussed At Copenhagen SummitSome of the comments on the personal post of one of our writers brought up some points that I’ve been thinking about for awhile now. See a friend of mine spent two entire work days at a social media conference. After it was over, I asked him what he learned.

Imagine a very long, brief pause.  Then he started talking in circles, so I pushed again, “No, I mean what did you actually learn?” He proceeded to fess up that it was more of a networking event than an actual learning experience. All in all, he didn’t learn anything new. Continue reading

Dear Flack – Stay Seasoned during a PR Dry Spell

Alone on Sand Dune Crest[We received this question on a recent blog post about short job stints]

Dear Flack,

How does one stay active in the PR/marketing world and keep up their skills when they’re unemployed?

This may be a bit off topic, but I was late to the other unemployment posting, so I thought I’d ask here since it’s somewhat relevant.

I’m currently unemployed, and I really want to keep my PR and writing skills active while I continue to search for work. I would appreciate any tips that others have tried during periods of unemployment to keep their skills current and continue doing what they love (and it would also be great to be able to share what I did to keep on top of things while unemployed with potential employers). Continue reading

We’re Not Over-Conferenced; We’re Better Served

Woman standing at podium, hands clasped, low angle viewAs social media becomes more and more popular there’s another issue that is a direct result of its growing popularity: more social media conferences. In Arik’s recent post, he discusses his views that our society may in fact be over-conferenced.

I think the thought itself is interesting, but I have to admit that my gut reaction to hearing that assertion is that it just isn’t true. I will admit, there are a lot of different conferences out there. Just take a look at Mashable’s most recent conference guide. Looking at that list, you’ll notice that there are oftentimes several conferences during the same time period. However, there are also a couple things you won’t see there: overlapping cities and subjects. Continue reading

Time for the Digital Conference Scene to Evolve

Businesswoman Preparing for PresentationRecently I had the opportunity to attend a local event sponsored by LaBreche and Twin Cities Business named: Reputations. The keynote? None other than Chris Brogan. The event also featured a solid panel of communicators and leaders from local agencies and organizations like Best Buy and Select Comfort (disclaimer: client).

Leading up to the event, I was both excited and skeptical. Excited to hear how a major brand like Best Buy manages its reputation online. Skeptical because I have heard the same song and dance a few too many times now.

Unfortunately, like a number of other folks at the event, I left a little disappointed. Continue reading