AUSTIN: Representatives behind the South by Southwest interactive festival (SXSW) reported an increase in media and overall attendance for the 2006 event this week.
The growing popularity parallels the festival's broadening purview, as more media and corporations become interested in new media strategies.
The interactive festival is one component of the overall SXSW happening, which also includes a Sundance-type showcase for new movies and documentaries and a launching pad for new music.
Amy Kugali, SXSW PR director, said that while press badges increased 20%, the quality of media covering the event, such as CNN and Chicago Tribune, has exponentially increased. She added that attendance has increased somewhere close to 300%.
"There's been healthy growth in the market," Kugali said, noting how the event has been recovering since the technology bubble burst.
Lisa Peterson, Porter Novelli senior account executive, said the growing appeal of the event, and array of media mavens in attendance, has complicated media outreach, and efforts to determine who deserves media credentials.
"It's difficult to define what media is," Kugali said. "We take it on a case-by-case basis."
The press room, littered with invitation to film screenings and interactive parties, was representative of that diversity. A scan of the press mailboxes proved how convoluted the concept of press is today, with AOL, formerly just an ISP; Cinematical, a Weblogs Inc. blog now owned by AOL; and GreenCine, DVD eCommerce site; all sharing space with the likes of Wired, AP, and the Boston Phoenix. In addition to the mailboxes, there is also a masseuse and a row of Powerbook laptops on hand.
On Saturday, there was a long queue for registration to seminars on topics like podcasting, folksonomies (tags), web design, exploring how philosophy can help your creative output, and, of course, blogging. The film festival is also running concurrent with the interactive festival. The music component does not begin until Wednesday.
The 2 pm keynote with Jason Fried, president of software company 37 Signals, and Jim Coudal, president of advertising and design firm Coudal Partners was so packed that even the satellite room where they streamed the video was also filled to capacity.
Edelman employee Michael Krempesky and Eastwick principal Giovanni Rodriguez are among those PR professionals speaking at panels.