Welcome to SXSW, where marcomms meets innovation

South by Southwest Interactive has become the epicenter of where marcomms meets innovation. It could just as appropriately be called SXSW Integrated.

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.

Follow the rest of PRWeek's SXSW coverage here.

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