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SXSWi Playback Our Insights & Learning as Recorded in Real Time


I’m still recovering from SXSW Interactive. The sheer volume of the conference can overwhelm, and I find it a bit daunting to distill the number of ideas, perspectives, panels and conversations into something cohesive and, more importantly, actionable.

Why SXSW? Let’s start with the numbers. This alone should serve as a great reason for anyone who has only considered attending to actually do so next year. (And yes, I do think you should attend next year.) I’ve seen the tweets and read the posts and interviews saying SX (pronounced “South By,” for those in the know) has “jumped the shark.” Maybe it has, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t offer value and benefit. At the very least, the opportunity to be surrounded by incredibly smart and creative and curious people for five days is reason enough. To see things you’ll only see at SX. Oh, and the BBQ. Good BBQ. :) reports: “Tuesday evening, the festival said its official paid attendance count for 2012 was 24,569, up from 19,364 in 2011, a change of nearly 27 percent. From 2010 to 2011, the fest grew from 14,251 to 19,364.” The panels were spread across 15 locations throughout downtown Austin, ranging from technical sessions about Web and interface design, wireless innovation, and business operations to more philosophical discussions about online marketing, social networks, and our relationships with new technologies. When I say “panels,” I mean not only actual panel conversations but also keynote addresses, solo presentations, interviews, and core conversations. Most sessions are one hour in length, though the numerous “Future 15” talks run only 15 minutes. Toss in book readings, signings, workshops, the Start-Up Village and the many evening events, and suddenly you’re in the middle of a very busy hive of activity. The content followed 14 tracks — Design + Development, Better Tomorrow, Convergence, Health + Education, Government + Global, Culture, Science + Play, Start Up, Emerging, New Business, Branding + Marketing, Social Networks, Journalism + Content, Featured Sessions and Keynotes — and was further categorized as Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced. Each track offered at least two options during every time slot, and there were five time slots each day. That added up to more than 1,050 different panels over the five days of the festival. Several times I just couldn’t decide between panels, so I reached out to my Twitter followers to help me choose. All in all, I attended 19 panels, and I’ll share some of my learnings over the next several weeks. I’m also using Storify to recreate key points from the panels I couldn’t attend and will share any learnings that come from the wisdom of the crowd.



I’ve spent time over the last few days distilling my thoughts and notes into what I hope are valuable takeaways. I was looking for ideas, tools, technologies and tactics I can use for my clients, not macro trends, but it’s impossible not to begin to see patterns emerge or gaps appear.

New Technologies Although technologies launched at SX in the past have gained acclaim and wide adoption (Twitter, Foursquare), I didn’t encounter any of those this year. There were several new apps with lots of buzz (Highlight, EchoEcho, Sonar) that seemed to concentrate on finding people in the crowds, narrowing one’s focus as opposed to widening it. I eagerly used both Highlight and EchoEcho and was pleased with the ability to find someone from my social network attending a specific panel, although actually locating them in the capacity crowds remained a challenge. These apps enable you to narrow your social circles instead of widening them, whether by filtering people within your broader network by location alone (EchoEcho, Sonar) or by location and interest (Highlight). They offer a fascinating perspective on the social graph as they categorize your connections by interest and location while simultaneously exposing those connections to friends of friends in a relevant and intimate manner. I’m experimenting with using these tools in a non-conference setting and am eager to see if they maintain the same value.

TransMedia & Shared Screens Transmedia and the multi-screen experience were everywhere. I’m fascinated by this convergence and attended as many panels on the topics as I could. Interestingly, while I expected to be impressed by content or technology, what I actually took away from these panels was more the idea of the interest graph, although the impact and challenges of contextual content gave me much food for thought. Shared-screen experiences are a natural application for the evolution of dynamic communities, as they seamlessly integrate people into a wide network rooted in a common interest. The interest graph creates new opportunities for brands to present products, services or content based on a user’s interests, and also offers brands new ways to engage, learn from, and access new audiences.

Interest-Based Networks The significance of the rise of the interest graph was underscored in a panel on consumer intent. Pinterest, Fancy, Tumblr and Springpad are all examples of tools or networks that allow people to connect not (only) with other people they know or are otherwise linked to, but with people who like or are interested in similar products, services, artists or activities.



Brands that choose to engage with new and future audiences within the interest graph must think about the goals, tactics and management of those relationships in different ways than they currently do with their current Facebook and Twitter followers. The connections, the interactions and the opportunities are all different. We’ve already seen some brands use Pinterest in exciting ways, creating real-time ad-hoc communities of people who all are interested in what the brand is offering, regardless of location, demographic or social connectivity. Understanding and using this new lens on community and interaction to leverage its power and value remain a challenge, but is certainly an exciting one!

Extracting Data Relevance Much to my delight, I was able to attend several panels focused on data. I learned about creating infographics, using data to inform content development, data as narrative, and the continued growth of interest in personal data, and I saw demos of several analytics tools and platforms. I’m excited to see this attention continue to grow, but there was also a critical and very important shift in this year’s data panels that I’ve been eagerly awaiting. The conversation isn’t solely about data capture, monitoring, tracking and reporting anymore. It has shifted now to data as the input — data as critical information that helps shape strategy, drive tactics, show relevance and prove value. I had many conversations about the skill sets necessary to extract relevant data from data sets, how to identify the right metrics, and how to approach analysis and recommendations so data can inform ongoing execution. This is an area where I’m certain we’ll continue to see growth and change over the next few years, and I couldn’t be happier about it. As technology gets smarter and smarter moving into the second half of the year (HTML5 and CSS3 anyone?), identifying what data to track and how to use it will become more important and powerful. This year is already moving fast and if SXSW was any indication, I’m buckling my seat belt tightly, hydrating, and getting ready for what promises to be an exhilarating ride!


The Week Ahead at SXSWi by Laura Chavoen So much of what keeps PR as a discipline relevant in the competitive landscape is innovation. As an industry, PR strives to be innovative in every way, with new events, new ways to reach influencers and new types of content — that, at its core, is what SXSW is about. I’m not a newbie to the SXSW Interactive Conference in Austin and it feels very different but no less inspiring and exciting than it was six years ago. Today, I feel there is a lot more business-minded content as opposed to “tech topics,” and I don’t think that is a bad thing. For a long time, the conference catered mainly to technology and creative folks and venture capitalists would drive through, trendspotting. Now, the (bigger) conference gives business people a deeper understanding of the creative executions, and it gives the techs and creative attendees the opportunity to see the connection between their innovations and business. It is bigger, but now it is richer in content, more three-dimensional and tangible. Since much of the conference content is picked through the SXSW Panel Picker, the attendees are more selective against panels that are strictly “marketing.” And I think it shows — the panel content is really fascinating. Last year, at the panel with Weiden and Kennedy discussing the Old Spice campaign, it was fascinating how they took tweets and turned them into video responses — I was amazed to hear they got video responses online within 24 hours — it changed everyone’s perspective on speed responsiveness and video, especially for a “brand.” It was just another example of content that was business-focused and gave me something tangible to think about. Because SXSW is all about innovation, you get a sneak peak at what’s coming in technology trends. For example, tablets were huge three years ago right before the iPad came out. Many panelists and speakers were using tablets, and attendees could see that. As a result, these people started creating tablet applications and tools and thinking of different uses of the technology. So being able to get a sneak peak at what the other speakers and attendees are doing can give you insights on what to do to stay on the competitive edge. There are a number of trends I’m looking forward to learning more about and gauging at the conference, from a professional and a personal perspective:


Transmedia: How do you link the customer experience across multiple screens? How do you support the way people interact with content displayed on different screens? For example, Google TV is interesting but it’s doing really poorly in the market, so I’m curious to see how people are tackling that. Privacy: The rise of Pinterest, followed by questions about privacy issues around Instagram to Google to the music industry — privacy is part of all of those things. We have not seen privacy driving any of those business decisions, but if all industries pulled together, they could reshape all media. Data as a Narrative: I’m curious to hear more stories about how consumption metrics become a narrative. How does the actual data become a narrative for the same people who are using the content in the first place? Gaming: I’m really into game concept and game theory. The article in The New York Times highlighting Self Magazine’s new game underscores how games are being rooted in everything we do. Tech Trends: I’m always interested in hearing what attendees are doing with HTML, CSS 5 and even 3D printing. Bruce Sterling: Bruce is the godfather of science fiction and the keynote speaker at the conference and I’m really looking forward to hearing his session. He has a fascinating take on distilling fantasy from reality. At SXSW, you never know what is going to inspire you. Even if it is a tech innovation, inspiration is inspiration. The challenge for attendees is to take what they see and make it relevant for our world.


SxSW 2012 — Wait, Talk, Discuss by Mark McClennan If today’s registration line is any indication, SXSW Interactive is going to be more popular than ever. Despite coming at an off time, registration took more than 90 minutes – more than I ever had to wait at CES or COMDEX in its prime. True to SXSW though, the time was not wasted. While in line, I had great conversations about the future of interactive marketing, the rise of mobile payments, better uses of technology to aid elections and those suffering in Africa, and the five major design flaws found in most socks today (who knew?). Based on my (admittedly small) sampling from the first day of the show, two of the most prominent themes at the conference are: 1) The transformative rise of mobile payments 2) The evolution of content Financial services technology has had a strong but limited presence at the show in previous years. But between Isis’ prominent sponsorship to the 13 scheduled sessions looking at mobile wallets or mobile payments, financial technology discussions are becoming much more mainstream. It’s interesting to look at the dichotomy of the sessions’ focus. They range from, “The Payment Revolution is Coming,” to “How the Wallet was Won.” There is a very divergent set of perspectives on this topic. Personally, I disagree with both. The payments revolution has been underway for some time and the wallet is most assuredly not won. Expect me to blog more about it in the coming days. Theme two: Content. This goes beyond, “content is king.” People are discussing new ways of using content to engage. I had a great 60-minute conversation with a USA Today executive about their new iPad app and new ways they are looking to leverage and use content. There were a few interesting debates on the form of content (video was the most discussed, followed by a debate on how not to lose the richness of language and its ability to subtly shift perceptions as we move to microbite creation and consumption). All in all, a good first day at the show. Like anyone, I realize my impressions at SXSW are shaped by the relatively small number of people I had the pleasure of speaking with. I thought it might make sense to take a step back and look at what the overall conversation trends were today:


Over the past day, there were more than 140,000 tweets and blog posts about SXSW (98 percent were tweets). To put this in perspective, the social media volume around SXSW far exceeds that of the recent Mobile World Congress or RSA:

The discussion is relatively fragmented. The only tech brand to break into the top discussion word cloud is Nokia, thanks to its foursquare badge. Most of the discussion is what you would expect, with people surprisingly upbeat despite the rain.

What are your thoughts so far?


Day One Recap at SxSWi: Implications for PR by Laura Chavoen The first day of SXSWi was cold and wet outside, but vibrant and crowded inside! I’m live-tweeting from panels at @chavoen – ping me if you’ve a question you’d like me to ask or a panel you want me to check out. My initial plan for attending sessions is below and you can find the full schedule at At SXSW, my goal for every panel is to learn (at least) one new thing, and find a concrete example that will resonate with at least one client or colleague. Today’s panel topics included brand authenticity, higher ed and social media, and social media for realworld activation. At each full-capacity panel there was much to be learned and shared. My first panel was on brand authenticity. At MSLGROUP, and most likely throughout the PR/marketing/ communications world, the idea of brand authenticity and consistency is already in our framework, but a few critical thoughts were shared that resonated with the audience. (Full disclosure: I shared my thoughts as an audience member during this session and was delighted by the response.) Thinking about the full customer experience is critical — being authentic ONLY in social doesn’t work. Social is a tool and can help define, refine and extend the experience and voice, but the voice must be authentic and consistent across all touchpoints and channels. One of the panelists made an outstanding point as well — a campaign isn’t authentic if you can just replace the brand with a different one. Specifically referencing the Old Spice campaign that went viral and garnered so much attention, he asked if that same concept would have worked for Mennen. Or Taco Bell. And if the answer was yes, successful or not, it isn’t authentic. That is the difference between a campaign and a brand experience. Moving to the higher ed panel, I was excited to hear several ideas of relevance to our higher education clients in Chicago. The first was about audience segmentation, making the point that an institutional voice may only be one of several voices necessary for messaging to be relevant to a wide variety of audiences. Some specific strategies were discussed for involving administrators from across the organization into 9

the marketing effort and integrating their ideas and support. There was also a great discussion around highlighting and harnessing student voices in a way that offers dimensions and perspectives critical for longevity. Finally, the social activation panel identified several different pathways for translating social media activity into real world actions, proving that key PR activities around influencer identification and engagement are more relevant than ever in today’s multi-channel, cross-media world. PR gets relationships, has been creating stories and content for centuries and remains the discipline that can and does conduct the orchestra of digital, marketing, communication, advertising, media, employee engagement and sales. When all of those are working in concert? The gorgeous symphony of an authentic brand plays music relevant to each audience. Looking forward to my sessions today, including panels on effective transmedia strategies, data/analytics, and PR for better business. I’m still deciding between a panel on daddy bloggers or one on local‌. Tweet me at @chavoen and help me decide!


sxsW Saturday Takeaways: Destroy Labels, Know Yourself by Mark McClennan

Saturday at SXSW was much more interesting than Friday. I had the pleasure of attending a very wide range of panels. The topics included strategic communications, dad bloggers, enterprise social media, the future of mobile wallets, a comedian/ activist keynote, and a look inside Joss Whedon’s head. The panels were a mix of both aspirational visions and cautionary tales. The sessions were all great learning experiences, but they present something of a challenge. How do you blend parenting lessons from Leviticus with social analytics and loyalty programs? While many of these sessions merit their own posts (and will likely get them in the future), I wanted to focus on overarching themes I noticed. I would say there were two key takeaways from these sessions. * Destroy the labels. * Know who you are. From the mobile wallet to NFC chips to dad bloggers, people and companies are too often failing to reach their full potential because they are succumbing to easy labelization. Don’t get me wrong, there is immense power in the study of groups and flocking, but if you too quickly group someone, you may come to the wrong conclusion or miss opportunities. I saw that time and time again today. This is particularly insidious when it comes to mom bloggers. Mom bloggers are too often defined by who they are rather than who they write about. Very few “dad” and “mom” bloggers blog about parenting. They are parents who blog. A mom blogger who writes about beer or food, should not be lumped in the same category as one who writes about technology or parenting. I personally have seen too many companies make this mistake. The lists created by influencer tools may serve as a good start, but influencers are not Oreos. Each is unique and needs to be understood and communicated with in context. The same lesson applies to the mobile wallet. First of all, there is a blurring between mobile wallet and P2P payments and this line needs to be clearly understood. It also applies to enterprise social media when “employees” are lumped together as one audience when companies roll out solutions. Some of the best advice from IBM today was to understand what your corporate culture is like and what tools employees use to work and to communicate, and enhance those existing tools rather than make 11

everyone conform to new tools. If you try to force people to do something they do not want to do, you will end up with an empty wiki, upset employees and wasted budget. The second point is to know who you are. If you have a niche, carve it out. Just don’t let others put you in that niche. Isis in the digital wallet space seems to clearly know this. They understand that in order to convince people to move away from contactless cards and mag stripes, they need to offer more to retailers and merchants. They are betting their success on the premise of bringing loyalty cards and coupons into an integrated whole to provide consumers savings and convenience; and providing retailers a chance to impact consumer purchasing behavior before a transaction will push them over the edge. (That and retailers being penalized by the issuers if they do not adopt NFC by 2015). I am not sure I agree with them completely, and I know not everyone in the audience did. Consumers have shown amazing willingness to stay with what works. As one panelist pointed out, 10 years ago the cover of Card Transactions was, “Mobile Commerce is Ready for Takeoff,” and we are still discussing its pending rise today. Additionally, consumers have shown a willingness to have multiple loyalty cards and apps, and there are other alternatives to impact pre-shopping behavior today (such as eGiftcards – technology from a client of mine — and location based deals). The audience definitely did not all agree about the easy path of NFC. My most popular tweet of the day was, “NFC being positioned as the Borg. Do not resist. You will be assimilated.” Knowing who you are also helped many companies in the first panel of the day I attended. The reaction to Zappos’ data breach was much less negative than most breaches of its type. That was because Zappos quickly communicated in a way that was appropriate for its customers. This post is getting long, so I want to wrap it up with the five most quotable observations of the day: * Before you make a critical business decision, ask yourself – what would John Stewart say about it? * Great ideas are not always great and not always well received. * Bloggers have more influence over purchasing decisions than traditional celebrity endorsers do. * Forty-eight percent of B2B CEOs say social media helped generate qualified leads. * Voice of customer research is not for validation, it is for discovery.


SXSWi Recaps: PR Lessons, Data Tools AND More by Laura Chavoen

Another full day in Austin — panels and people, as well as codification of some perspectives and new viewpoints on others. The day began with confirmation of how critical it is for the communicator to have a seat at the table in making business decisions. I attended the, “More Smart, Less Stupid,” PR panel, which underscored that idea through examples of public relations missteps and successes by Susan G. Komen, American Airlines, Zappos and Netflix. A key takeaway was that if you’re going to be bipartisan, decide in advance and plan out the scenarios — don’t react in-market. I also attended two panels that approached data and the roles it can play in business in different ways. The first focused on integrating data into the narrative, exploring ways to turn statistics into thought leadership TOOLS that people can use and apply rather than just read and file. Visualizing data exposes opportunities that might otherwise be missed and brings it into the discussion in a compelling


and shareable manner. The idea extends beyond simple quantitative data. Visual transformation of information can imbue it with new power and expose it to new audiences. Another session I attended explored NEW ways data is informing the editorial process beyond the impression and the click. The exponential increase in data availability and new channels requires us to be smarter about what data we pay attention to and offers us the opportunity to begin to more deeply segment and categorize our audiences. Later I attended a panel on creating, “Great Events.” The speakers suggested that great events challenge and intrigue their attendees, have unexpected elements and offer something aspirational. They also pointed out that allowing people to help shape their own experiences can make an event memorable and continue the conversation long after the actual event ends. The day came to a close with a deep dive into local marketing. The focus was both tactical and technical, offering insights into working with Google Places pages, mobile optimization and geo-location search term management. A key takeaway underscored the value of targeted social content and how critical it is to ensure your Google Places pages are correct, since many mobile apps pull business information from those pages. Keeping local sites in your reputation management strategy is also critical, given the power of online reviews. I’ll close today’s post with some great data about the value of local marketing. I’m working on visualizing this data and will post it later this weekend! • Google Places account for 33 percent of visits to local business websites. • E  ighty-eight percent of people who search for local information on a smartphone take action within one day. • S  ixty-seven percent of consumers would NOT purchase a product/service after reading one to three negative reviews.


SxSW Sunday: It’s all about convergence by Mark McClennan Today was a great day at SXSW. I had the pleasure of attending three different sessions on payments and mobile wallets, one on the future of retail and a most inspiring session that looked at updating classic iconic ads for today’s technology. I was prepared to write a very payments-focused post. But as I was thinking about today, I realize the key lessons for PR and business professionals transcend the payments market. Every presenter today, in his or her own way, was talking about convergence. What do I mean? Too often communications, marketing and business professionals think about communications and sales channels. Despite our best efforts, we silo our thoughts. What does mobile allow us to do for payments, what business use can we get from mobile devices, what is the future of digital video? While that thinking is important, it can also be limiting. It was expressed in different ways on the different panels, but it came down to a few observations. Mobile payments aren’t about payments. If all you think about is taking a contactless card and putting it on a smartphone, you are missing the bigger opportunity and the market won’t grow. Isis is taking it a step further and realizing that for mobile to succeed, it needs to be better, faster and cheaper. As I discussed yesterday, they are betting on loyalty, security and a better shopping experience to be the growth drivers. But the discussion at the Future Shop panel made me realize there is more to it than what even Isis is saying. We need convergence and to see how all the channels can best work together. The retailers on this panel were nowhere near as optimistic about NFC as the payments players in other sessions. But they saw an even bigger picture. Convenience and loyalty offers are great. But that is just looking at one side of the opportunity. When retailers configure their stores to take advantage of mobile technology, they will prosper. The speakers gave examples of one company that had a scavenger hunt-like game that led people through the store to daily specials. These retailers see the iPhone turning into the helpful sales clerk of years gone by. Seth Priebatsch of SCVNGR challenged the status quo, but he added another piece to the puzzle. With loyalty blending with analytics, businesses and communicators can adjust consumer shopping habits using game theory. In Philadelphia, they ran a 45-day test that showed rainy days correlated


to significantly less restaurant revenue. So, they designed dynamic deals to encourage people to visit a restaurant on rainy days and saw a significant business lift. It is only by putting the wallet vision of Isis together with the bricks and mortar innovations of Future Shop and some of SCVNGR’s futuristic ideas that we truly can see the shape of the future of mobile payments. Without all three perspectives, without the gestalt of the different perspectives, the success will not be complete. This transcends payments. This is a lesson that communications professionals should take to heart. We need to make sure we are not narrowing our vision to influencer channels, social media strategy or analyst relations. Sure, those can drive results. But we need to look not just at how they work together; we need to challenge ourselves to find new ways in which they can work together. Google and Coca-Cola did just that with (along with other brands). The project updated four iconic ads for today’s media. The premise was powerful, yet simple. We don’t want to do a social media campaign. We want to do a campaign that is social. What Coca-Cola did is amazing. They made it possible for someone to actually send the world a Coke. Consumers could record a video on the site and send a free Coke to a number of machines around the world. Someone would receive your message in less than 90 seconds (after it was reviewed for content) and could then thank you. You would receive that video a minute later. It is powerful. It is social and it harnesses physical, digital and social channels to create a result much greater than the sum of the individual parts. More communicators need to think like that. If we do so, our programs will be much more compelling, we will gain better understanding of consumers and we will drive greater business results. So join me in always looking for ways to advance convergence. You won’t regret it. It was so popular yesterday, I decided to end with it again today. The five most quotable observations from Sunday at SXSW: • Pharma is not bad. Pharma is probably going to save your life. • S  ecurity is not a selling point for consumers. Criminals will find ways, and consumers think the phone is less secure even if it is more secure. • We are on the precipice of shopper 3.0: the combination of Web, brick and mortar and mobile. • T  ools today are an extension of our mental, not physical selves. The shape of technology tools has changed dramatically over time; this is not the case with many physical tools. • If you want to drive consumer engagement, get people to look forward, not back. If you have any questions in this post, leave a comment or tweet me at @mcclennan to meet up at SXSW. 16

It’s a B2B SxSW Monday by Mark McClennan Today was my last full day at SXSW and it was once again filled with great discussions. For once I decided to forgo payments panels, and spent more of my time in panels that discussed B2B social media as well as a panel on brand journalism and yes, one on the future of money. The brand journalism panel and B2B panels were filled with a lot of insight and tips that will be of interest to our B2B clients and to B2B communications professionals. First, it is clear that B2B companies are embracing content marketing. According to a survey from MarketingProfs, 49 percent of companies plan to increase their content marketing spending in the next 12 months. The two biggest content challenges these companies face are: 41 percent of their content is not engaging enough and 20 percent have trouble producing enough content. As trusted advisors, communications professionals need to find ways to help our clients overcome both of these challenges. This brand journalism panel, and a solo presentation from Tim Washer, Cisco’s Senior Manager of Social Media, hit on a key issue: B2B companies need to remember to talk to people in a human way. B2B purchasing decisions are made both on facts and emotions. If you sell on just speeds and feeds in a competitive market, you are at a competitive disadvantage. Communicators need to keep this in mind and call out the human elements inherent in any story. Following are four other key insights I took from the panels today: • G  amification is everywhere and is starting to be used to drive B2B engagement. When people hear about gamification, they tend to think of consumer brands, Foursquare badges or SCVNGR. But Cisco has added badges to at least some of its blogs. Now visitors can receive badges for visiting the blogs, leaving their first comment, leaving 10 comments, tweeting the blog post, etc. This is a great step. It is an easy and focused incentive to drive the business outcomes a company desires (engagement and awareness). IBM and Xerox also spoke about how they are using gamification, with IBM using it internally to drive activity and identify those most passionate about social media. • R  eexamine how you gather registration information. Cisco and other B2B companies are using Facebook and OpenID to enable social login. Why does this matter? Since Cisco implemented it, they have seen a 40 percent reduction in cost and a 20 percent increase in registration.


• B  2B needs to embrace video. If your B2B company is not yet using video as part of its communications strategy, you are missing great opportunities. Here is a great video from Cisco about how it is helping in Africa. It does a great job humanizing the story and moving it beyond the basics. • L  ook at humor. This one is near and dear to my heart as I do standup comedy in my spare time, and I understand the power of humor in business. Humor in B2B can engage your prospects and customers. It is a positive emotion, humanizes the brand, builds goodwill and cuts through the noise. If you don’t have the budget, go to a film school and ask the professor for his best seniors. Offer them an internship and $1,000 if you end up using their final product. One example of humor in action comes from this Cisco Valentine’s video. It has almost 200,000 views and drove coverage in The New York Times, Network World, Light Reading and other outlets. See it here. If B2B communicators start doing just one thing they may not be doing today, they will help their brands prosper and their communications programs deliver greater ROI. The five most quotable observations from Monday at SXSW: • “Content” is the new black. • Y  our B2B story is good enough for YouTube, your clients and prospects, even if it may not be good enough for TV. • I nformation without analysis in the information age is as valuable as stone in the Stone Age. • S  implicity sells. We make things complex because frequently we are too insecure to be simple. But look at Apple. • Q  uestion conventional wisdom. For Trulia, blogs about sports figures drove three times the traffic as those about celebrities. If you have any questions in this post, leave a comment or tweet me at @mcclennan to meet up at SXSWi.


Last Day at SXSW:Where Brian Solis, Billy Corgan and Jay-Z Intersect by Laura Chavoen

Brian Solis spoke at an SXSW panel yesterday afternoon about how audience segmentation is no longer only about age or demographics. One of the key audience groups is “GENERATION C,” c for connected. The connected generation not only integrates technology seamlessly into their lives, this group also uses and embraces technology to form, sustain and nurture relationships with others in Generation C. Brian’s perspective is that we’re the problem and we are also the solution. This not about generations or age. It has to do with how we AS PEOPLE make decisions, interact and connect. We look at things in different ways. We have become a disruption. The decision-making cycle of connected consumers is very different today. Later in the panel, Billy Corgan joined Brian for a sit-down chat about how the music industry is no longer “business as usual,” then went on a (seemingly angry) screed about how music is so different today and how music consumers “mostly just want stuff for free.” He spoke about how the business of today’s music industry has “taken the claws out of the music,” forcing musicians who seek fame (and fortune) to acquiesce to the demands of the business and not be driven by their creativity or their own desire. And after seeing the Jay-Z show tonight, I can say they are both right. Music is very different today, but not necessarily in the way Billy articulated, at least from my perspective, the perspective of the consumer, the FAN. There was NO lack of creativity or originality, in this evening’s show, nor was there any lack of pointed observations in Jay’s lyrics and even his stage banter. And Brian is also right, at least as far as shared experiences go…the audience was connected, with each other as well as with Jay.


Jay-Z connected the audience. He interacted with us, and encouraged us to interact with each other in ways I’ve never seen at the hundreds of live shows I’ve been to. He EXPECTED the audience would know entire verses and held the microphone out so we could join him. He had us waving our arms, bouncing, doing the two-step, making some noise and singing the chorus behind his raps. We eagerly and passionately connected with him, with each other, laughing, taking pictures, dancing with total strangers. He didn’t just perform. He connected with us. He didn’t just sing, he structured his set so we could join him. He didn’t just perform the set list the Twitter-sphere helped construct, he wove all of those songs together into a story and we all went on a fantastic, LOUD, energetic and completely transporting adventure. I will continue to buy Jay’s music. And I won’t miss an opportunity to see him live again, at any cost. And I was delighted to see such a concrete example of Brian’s panel and book: “The End of Business as Usual.” It was a memorable way to close out another great weekend at SXSWi.


ABOUT THE AUTHORS Mark McClennan Senior Vice President Schwartz MSL Boston Mark W. McClennan, APR combines strategic communications counsel with a relentless drive for excellence to help Schwartz MSL’s clients succeed in leveraging public relations to realize their business objectives. He works with clients to determine overall messaging and communications strategy, while remaining actively engaged with the media, bloggers and analysts. He regularly advises clients on social media strategies. In his more than 16 years at Schwartz MSL, McClennan has led teams in a variety of industries, including consumer technology, business services, financial services, healthcare IT, fraud, and manufacturing. He is a co-head of the consumer technology practice and heads Schwartz MSL’s Business and Financial Services Group as well as the Schwartz MSL Research Group. He also helps spearhead the agency’s social media efforts and his teams have been recognized for creating and executing B2B and B2C social media campaigns than drive business growth. McClennan has worked with companies ranging from venture-funded start-ups to large public companies, including Fiserv/CheckFree, Epocrates, Bill Me Later/EBay, Javelin Strategy & Research, ID Analytics, SoundBite and others. He has guided companies through IPOs and acquisitions. He has coordinated successful public relations campaigns for companies in Europe and Asia. McClennan’s teams have been recognized with more than 45 awards for excellence in public relations, including five Silver Anvils (the PR industry Oscars) and three Silver Anvil Awards of Excellence in the past few years for his teams’ work on behalf of consumer technology, financial services and healthcare technology companies. . His teams have been recognized with two Sabre Awards, four Bulldog awards and many others. He has obtained placements for his clients in a wide variety of business and trade publications, including TechCrunch, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Fast Company, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report and Newsweek. McClennan has a B.A. in public relations and political science from the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University. He is a frequent blogger and published writer on public relations, measurement, ethics and social media. He has spoken at industry conferences and universities on ethics and social media, measurement and the evolution of public relations. McClennan is a National Board Member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). In his spare time, he does stand-up comedy and serves on the Ways & Means Committee for the Town of Framingham where he helps manage a $200 million budget. Twitter: @mcclennan LinkedIn:


ABOUT THE AUTHORS Laura Chavoen SVP, Director of Digital Strategy MSL Chicago Laura Chavoen is a senior vice president and director of MSL Chicago’s digital practice, with 20 years of digital communications expertise in food and nutrition, publishing, financial services and associations. She is responsible for developing digital marketing plans for clients across MSL Chicago’s consumer marketing and corporate branding practices, and oversees strategy for managing social media channels and creating interactive content to engage consumers, influencers, media and other key audiences. Laura currently works with clients including GM, Owens Corning, DeVry University, Zurich Financial Services, Masco Corporation, Sealy and Riddell. Prior to MSL Chicago, Laura served as executive vice president of digital strategy at Imagination Publishing, a content marketing agency in Chicago, working on several General Mills’ purpose marketing programs including Box Tops for Education, Pink Together, Outnumber Hunger and Join My Village. She also led digital strategy for Chick-fil-A’s Living Healthy program and General Mills’ nutrition education resource, The Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition. Across these healthy living platforms she developed a variety of digital platforms including websites, branded social channels, mobile applications, e-books, ambassador programs and local community initiatives. In addition, Laura has worked as global director of; manager of Scholastic’s scholarship program, Alliance for Young Artists & Writers; and executive producer for kids. and several of its microsites, including Harry Potter and Clifford the Big Red Dog. She held similar roles at Razorfish, SkyMall and HarperCollins. Her past account work includes General Mills, WellsFargo, Chick-fil-A, Lowe’s, Allstate, MasterCard, Microsoft, Symantec, Eat Better America and several associations including the PMI, NFIB, NEA and The Conference Board. Laura is a graduate of Northern Illinois University with a B.A. in visual communications. She remains active in the marketing industry as a guest speaker on social media and online engagement, serving most recently as a featured speaker at the PRSA International Conference.


Digital Playback - SxSWi  

Nearly 25,000 people attended the SXSWi conference in Austin, Texas, held in March 2012. At more than 1,000 panel discussions over the cours...