Yesterday marked my first foray to South by Southwest Interactive. The fact I am penning this entry late in the evening is a testament to the enthusiasm and appreciation I have already gained for this annual gathering in Austin, Texas. (Or maybe it’s just I am only now recovered enough from the sensory overload of a jam-packed day to write this.)
The photo accompanying this blog shows a "welcome" banner. It’s a sign similar to what you’d see at any event, but every aspect of SXSW Interactive is truly welcoming. The event is clearly the city’s biggest of every year – and you can tell how everyone involved wants each guest to get the most out of it.
However, the true welcoming aspect upon which I wish to focus regards the marcomms industry. SXSW was created to showcase cutting-edge technologies – and it certainly still does that. However, the huge presence of brands such as Miller Lite, McDonald’s, Pepsi, and Capital One – among others – illustrates that this event is still a showcase for the marketing and comms world.
As I was chatting with some folks at the Austin Convention Center, we were noting how this show used to be so tech-centric and now it’s become the epicenter of where marcomms meets innovation. And when you think about where the PR world truly shines these days – digital and social media – that makes all the sense in the world. In fact, after just one day here I am already convinced this is an event at which every PR organization must be represented.
A good portion of my evening was spent at a dinner where the topic of conversation was food and experiential dining. Colleagues from MSLGroup, the National Restaurant Association, Fox Restaurant Concepts, Rachael Ray Digital, and Nicki Briggs, a past PRWeek 40 Under 40 honoree, were on hand to share great food and great insights into just how much innovation is taking place in the food industry – everything from the craft foods revolution to advancements in vegan cuisine.
I never would have thought my first in-depth discussion at SXSW would focus on food, but now that I have a day under my belt, it's no surprise at all. Pick a topic – any topic – that interests you and you’ll find it here, along with myriad experts and enthusiasts who will show you just how much innovation is going on in the sector. And a lot of those experts and enthusiasts are the marcomms pros who are marrying branding and innovation so effectively.
While SXSW Interactive remains a great name for this event, it could just as appropriately be called SXSW Integrated and still capture the goings-on in Austin very well.