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Insiders' Guide to SXSWi 2013


Congratulations. You’re attending one of the top communications trend events in the world. We recognize what you get out of your investment in time and resources is directly proportional to your investment in preparation. So, we asked some of our veteran SXSWi attendees what they think. Stephanie Agresta Stephanie is Global Director of Social Media and Digital at MSLGROUP. She is busy building the next-generation agency. A veteran of SXSW and the founder of the Blogger’s Lounge (a social media influencer hub located inside the ACC), Stephanie loves connecting to her friends and colleagues IRL in Austin every year. When she’s not in the Blogger Lounge or consuming content, look for her red cowboy boots in the lobby of the Four Seasons.

Laura Chavoen Laura is SVP, Director of Digital Strategy at MSL Chicago. She is a wannabe geek and excited for yet another week of inspiration, creativity and breakfast tacos at SXSW. While always looking for new insights, ideas and executions for her clients and MSLGROUP, she’s also looking forward to hearing how others continue to tackle the challenges of executing at scale and micro-segmentation, as well as the Monks of Invention 2013 Conclave.

Mark McClennan, APR Mark is a senior vice president at Schwartz MSL Boston where he heads its Consumer Technology and Insights practice groups. He has been going to SXSW for years and is frequently part of the roving band of jacketwearing financial services and payments technology professionals that debate the future of mobile wallets, payments, banking and social media, while everyone else is wasting time in lines trying to get into sessions with Hollywood celebrities. When not at SXSW, he provides strategic counsel for clients including, LifeLock, Fiserv and Epocrates.


Join in the conversation on MSLGROUP social media - @MSLGROUPNA on Twitter or MSLGROUP Americas on Facebook. You can also track the conversation using our hashtag #MSLGROUPSX in conjunction with #SXSW.

As You Are Planning and Packing… SXSWi is a big show in a small city. That creates the expected tension between resources and need. There will be crowds, lines and waits. However, the show is manageable if you keep some basic guidelines in mind as you prepare for your SXSW adventure:


Bring comfortable shoes. You’ll be walking and standing more than you expect or plan.


Be prepared for some strategic socializing. The sessions are incredible, but the lounges and parties are where you really learn and make connections. Be courageous and remember to bring business cards!


Take along extra chargers and batteries. Don’t depend too much on technology being available. What? Isn’t this a conference about technology? Right. But, the WiFi is still almost always overloaded, signals will fade in and out and your battery will run out of juice long before you do. The solution: bring extra batteries, a portable charger and have the hutzpah to ask to borrow the technical fruits of others when you are desperate. Also know that you can charge up at the lounges; striking up a conversation at a charging station is a great way to meet new friends.


Bring your running shoes. The trails along the Colorado River are wonderfully flat, and there is no better way to experience the Austin atmosphere than with an early morning run or walk, before the city wakes up.


Keep your own stash of snacks and water. Stop at the Wag-A-Bag or another convenience store on the way from the airport or on the outskirts of town or near the hotel. Or, better yet, pack your luggage with some pretzels and water bottles. The lines at SXSW are long. You don’t want to miss your prime seat in the 10th row just because you need libation.


 e aware of the weather. Austin in March has a wide range of weather. B This year, things are shaping up to be comfortable, but chilly. A quick check to shows that the high temperatures over the course of SXSWi will range from 73 degrees F on Saturday to 60 degrees F on Monday. Lows will be in the 40s and 50s. Bring your rain gear. Showers are possible on Saturday.


Download the SXSW GO app. This is the official app for SXSW, and it includes schedules, events, a map of locations, and the ability to sync with your SXSW account.


Session Planning... Surviving in Austin...

There’s hundreds hundreds of panel ifsessions and nearly all of them are Austin is a veryand walkable city, especially your hotel is downtown.Look for the great. You have opportunity to get be from choiceful. Just that there SXSWi shuttlethe buses to help you location to remember location. However, hereare are some additional things to keep in mind: very few bad choices. However, a lot of the panels are at an introductory level. So, if yourIfskills aredriving, alreadyuse somewhat developed, be yourtoopportunity you are the secret garage. If this you could didn’t manage snag a 1 hotel to branch out even As youofmay have now defines within farther. walking distance SXSWi don’talready despair. noted, There is SXSW a garage on 2nd If you Intermediate, get there early, you probably snag a spot. It’s just two blocks panels asstreet. Beginner, or can Advanced. away from the convention center. And then, when heading out to that evening gathering, it is an easy walk to your car where can drop your gear.

weGget rabspecific a new friend explore. Notchoices, literally, ofwe course. should Before in ourand favorite panel wantBut to you point out a few 2 approach this adventure as an opportunity to make and meet new friends and trends we noticed this year in panel topics.

contacts. Especially explore the music scene. There is live music every night all over Austin, so read the sign posts, collect the postcards you’ll be handed at every street corner, explore and have fun!

• D  ata data data… Data capture, data analysis, data usage and data Keep time available for the random opportunity. Don’t overschedule your privacy arethings top relatively of mindflexible. for SX Permit attendees, echoing what we’re seeing 3 time. Leave yourself to indulge in that random and in business conversations. There are multiple sessions focused on the spontaneous world that is SX. issues and the tactics of data collection and management.


Keep an ABC list of panels. First choice full? No prob. if you have your B list. You even need of your C list. The point is, make a list, tier your selections T  hemay evolution gaming…Gaming remains a robust theme,and check it twice. strategyyears, will become your lifeline to a productive schedule but over the This pastlistseveral we’ve seen brands and business even when your priority plans fail.

taking note and the sessions shifting from experience, design and

development V iew a keynote a satellite. Unless you feel a compelling need to take tofrom adoption, integration and usage. in a keynote at the Convention Center, you may want to avoid the crowds. Most •“Tkeynotes he Maker Culture” continues to surge…The Maker Culture are shown in satellite locations, often rooms where other interesting sessions be held immediately afterward. are less and crowded has nowwill broadened in topics, movingThese into locations craftsmanship play as and give quality timeThere with those interests. Satellitethe much asyou tech andnetworking innovation. are having severalsimilar sessions exploring keynote locations are in each of the different venues.


business and role of Makers, both in terms of product development and Follow the on Twitter, don’t let Twitter own your every creation asconversation well as leadership andbut management.



Hang at the conference center and its lounges. Build a strategy to run into interesting people for ad hoc conversations that might inspire you. In particular, check out The Blogger Lounge, the Chevy Spark Lounge, the PayPal Exchange (for our geekier friends), and for anyone whose passion point is people in social good, the Beacon. See the full list of lounges here: SXSW Lounges


Whether your goal is to gain career advice on women in leadership, or meet a new friend, consider the Women 2.0 Meet-up. Some of the smartest women in business today will discuss everything from the challenges of leadership to striking work/life balance.

move. At a party and see the Twitter flow all about the party cross-town? Do you bail and party hop? Or, do you wait for things at your event to “open up?” Sometimes, it’s better not to become Twitter-insecure and spend your night chasing everyone else’s good time. Try to relax and enjoy.

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Session Planning... There’s hundreds and hundreds of panel sessions and nearly all of them are great. You have the opportunity to be choiceful. Just remember that there are very few bad choices. However, a lot of the panels are at an introductory level. So, if your skills are already somewhat developed, this could be your opportunity to branch out even farther. As you may have already noted, SXSW now defines panels as Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced. Before we get specific in our favorite panel choices, we want to point out a few trends we noticed this year in panel topics.

• D  ata data data… Data capture, data analysis, data usage and data privacy are top of mind for SX attendees, echoing what we’re seeing in business conversations. There are multiple sessions focused on the issues and the tactics of data collection and management.

• T  he evolution of gaming…Gaming remains a robust theme, but over the past several years, we’ve seen brands and business taking note and the sessions shifting from experience, design and development to adoption, integration and usage.

•“The Maker Culture” continues to surge…The Maker Culture has now broadened in topics, moving into craftsmanship and play as much as tech and innovation. There are several sessions exploring the business and role of Makers, both in terms of product development and creation as well as leadership and management.


Keynotes & Featured Sessions... All of the keynote sessions are “must-see” events – SX continues to do an outstanding job at capturing the current zeitgeist and seeing into the future, finding just the right topics and people to excite and inspire. Keynotes are at 2pm each day of SXSWi, and you can read about them here: SXSWi Keynotes We look forward to Elon Musk’s keynote (Saturday, March 9, 2 pm). As an incredibly thoughtful entrepreneur, he successfully strikes the balance between technology and business, with a focus on accessibility. With multiple well-known companies on his CV (PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla), his experience is robust and his vision is not to be missed. In addition to the keynotes, the SXSWi Featured Sessions are worth adding to your SXSW schedule. One in particular that we’d like to call out: Brian Solis, a principal analyst at the Altimeter Group who spoke at an MSLGROUP New York Social Media Week panel discussion on February 20, will be interviewing Shaquille O’Neal on Monday, March 11 from 12:30-1:30pm in Dell Hall at the Long Center. On Twitter, Shaq was the first verified celebrity account and now has more than 6.6 million followers – Jack Dorsey once said: “Twitter wouldn’t be what it is today without Shaquille O’Neal.” Additionally, Brian will debut his new book “What’s the Future of Business?”


We’re also excited to cheer as danah boyd is inducted into the Interactive Hall of Fame (Tuesday, March 12, 6:00pm). As a leading researcher across all areas of privacy, danah sets user, political and business agendas, and her influence extends from her work at Microsoft Research to both the MacArthur Foundation and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation.


Session Recommendations... As you are planning your panel selections, it may be smart to map these against some of the emerging next-generation communication needs. Here’s what we think might be cool and interesting: Big Data Big Data is one of the top trends in communications and business. There are almost 20 sessions focusing on it at SXSW. But just like when you are analyzing big data it is easy to get overloaded. A few sessions that stood out include: Big Data: Is It Killing Creativity? Aseem Chandra, Vice President of Marketing, Adobe Sunday, March 10, 4:00-4:15 -- Hilton Austin, Room 615AB Intermediate – #sxsw #datasxsw  Storytelling. Creativity. Emotion. These elements have forever been the backbone of marketing. The rise of marketing analytics has resulted in information previously not available to an artistic industry rooted in creativity, not numbers. But how much customer data is too much? What if creatives overanalyze data and lose the art of compelling storytelling? Will dashboards push aside storyboards? Hear how data and creativity are both competing and coexisting in marketing today. Big Data Meet Up Silona Bonewald, Co-Founder, TuneHopper Sunday, March 10, 11am-12pm -- Driskill Hotel, Driskill Ballroom #sxsw #bigdata  Get together with other Big Data professionals for an hour of brainstorming, idea-building, networking, friend-making and career-enhancement. Or, attend this Meet Up to learn more about this segment of the industry -- or if you are looking to hire a Big Data expert for your company.


Consumer Data: Can I Get Satisfaction? Rick Orr, Exec VP & Co-Founder, Tabbedout Sunday, March 10, 11am-12pm -- Four Seasons, Ballroom Advanced - #sxsw #tabbedout  Your obsession with data and contextual presentation of content (or products!) should be fed in this session on how brands use customer data, both today and tomorrow. Data mining carries many negative connotations, but also offers companies the ability to provide a targeted and valuable experience. We’re eager to learn which companies use data to provide better service, and how. Culture Pop (Up) Culture Annika Dubrall, Strategic Sourcing, Gap Inc; Brian De Lowe, Principal, The Kor Group; Patrick Keenan, Co-Founder – SQFTSQFT; Tina Santiago, User Experience Designer, Hot Studio Inc Saturday, March 9, 3:30-4:30pm –- Four Seasons, San Jacinto Ballroom Intermediate - #sxsw #PopUP Pop Ups sell experiences, access and disruption as much as they sell products, and they are ubiquitous in urban areas across the globe. We’re interested to learn more about the business metrics behind these ‘events’, to see if they are augmenting digital commerce and filling the gaps left by a challenging economy, or if pop ups are merely a spark, destined to fade away.


Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now Douglas Rushkoff, Author, Present Shock, Codecademy Saturday, March 9, 5:00pm - 6:00pm -- Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D Advanced - #sxsw #rushkoff Life today is live, real-time, and always on. It’s not a mere speeding up, however much technology accelerated the rate at which we attempt to do things. Living in the eternal present has affected our biology, behavior, politics, and culture: Zombie apocalypse fantasies signal our yearning for an ending; the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street form two sides of the same post-narrative coin; investing in the future has been replaced by a futile effort to extract value off the trade itself; the tragedy of 9/11 disconnected an entire generation from a sense of history, while conspiracy theories actually comfort us when linear stories no longer have time to play out. This talk is about the new “now,” how to develop for it, create content for it, do business in it and, most of all, live in it.

Innovation Innovation & Leadership in the Agile Age Scott Cook, Founder, Intuit Sunday, March 10 @12:30-1:30 -- Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon FGH Intermediate - #sxsw #agilelead

Leadership is a rare and treasured quality, critical for innovation, but also for ensuring relevance to a changing consumer as well as a satisfied workforce. We look forward to hearing Scott Cook’s insights on how to enable teams to experiment with transformation, with the full support and empowerment of leadership.

Storytelling With storytelling being a central component of how brands connect with and engage consumers, it is no surprise there are 55 sessions on storytelling. A few that jumped out at us include: Data, Storytelling and Breaking Through the Noise Sunday, March 10, 9:30-10:30am -- Wanderlust Intermediate - #sxsw #BrandStory  torytelling can make the difference between being heard and being lost in the S noise… how can brands do it well? This panel explores how data driven stories can enable brands to reach their desired audiences, and have significant impact.


How Can Brands We Love, Tell Stories We Share? Aman Govil, Prod Mktg Mgr, Google; Kevin Mayer, VP Marketing, Volkswagen; Winston Binch, CDO, Deutsch Advertising Sunday, March 10, 3:30-4:30pm -- Austin Convention Center, Ballroom G Beginner – #sxsw #brandstory We’re in the midst of a second creative revolution, this time driven by art, copy and code. A brand’s story is no longer just an ad, or a book, or a film; it can be just about anything, and live anywhere. What do these new kinds of stories look like? Google partnered with a few iconic brands and visionary creatives to find out. In this session, we’ll present experiments in ads, apps, social and mobile and that are reimagining advertising’s future. New Standards for a New Era of Journalism Craig Newmark, founder & customer service rep, Craigslist, and Kelly McBride, Sr Faculty, The Poynter Institute Sunday, March 10, 5:00-6:00pm -- Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon FGH Intermediate - #sxsw #mcnewmark Trust in traditional news sources is at an all-time low. Trust in new startup newsrooms is even lower. Why is this? Craig Newmark (yes, that Craig Newmark) and Kelly McBride of The Poynter Institute last year gathered some of the top thought leaders in journalism to write a new set of Guiding Principles for the 21st Century. Newmark and McBride will team up to debate these findings, the revelations of the essays, and the implications for journalism and democracy.


Technology Brainstorming Technology First Will Turnage, VP, Technology & Invention, R/GA Saturday, March 9, 12:30-1:30pm – Omni Downtown Beginner - #sxsw #techfirst Technology is driving much of today’s business opportunities and offers a solid foundation for creative thinking and new ideas. This session offers a technology-first process and exercises as well as examples of successful products and services developed with this methodology. This approach to melding tech and creative should be insightful and inspiring! Emerging Media & Devices Aaron Smith, VP, Mobile & Tablet Strategy, Team Detroit; Glenn Stansbury, VP of Sales, Hipcricket; Maani Safa, Global Innovation Dir, Somo Global; Scott Mills, Dir, Brand Strategy - Digital, Team Detroit Friday, March 8 @2-3pm – Wanderlust Intermediate - #sxsw #DetroitLab Given the proliferation of channels, the frequently simultaneous usage of multiple devices, and a constantly changing landscape, getting the message heard by the RIGHT audience is an ongoing challenge. This panel promises to explore both tactics for today as well as offering insight into what the future may hold.


Other The Big Power Shift in Media Jonah Peretti, CEO & Founder, BuzzFeed Tuesday, March 12, 12:30pm-1:30pm -- Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 5 Advanced - #sxsw #PowerShift  hen SXSW Interactive began, blogging was new, people still sent email W forwards, and print media stocks were at record highs. The South By crowd knew a big change was coming but the rest of the world didn’t. Now the change is here for everyone. We’re in the midst of the big shift from portals, to search, to social. Facebook, Twitter, and the social web are mature and content spreads faster and further than ever before. Owning the printing press or the broadcast pipe matters less and less in a world where creating content people love to share is the key to success. Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed CEO and Founder will discuss the next wave of innovation in media. He will share practical advice on how your ideas can spread to millions of people and how your business can adapt to a world where social is the biggest growth engine, banner ads are dying, and Facebook and Twitter have become the new starting point for news, entertainment and culture. Esther Dyson, Release 0.9 Esther Dyson, Chairman, EDventure Holdings; Christine Lagorio, Exec Editor, Inc. magazine Tuesday, March 12, 12:30pm-1:30pm -- Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D Advanced - #sxsw #Release9 The prescient and inspirational Esther Dyson will be offering her perspectives on what’s intriguing right now in an interactive conversation. Esther always seems to get interested in things before they become popular. Her enthusiasms include space travel, the quantified self, and Russia. But she’s no dreamer. She has investment positions in 23andMe, Facebook, Evernote, LinkedIn, Square, and Yandex, along with some of the most world’s most fascinating companies you’ve never heard of.


Identity and security are topics of interest to communicators. One session that is a “can’t miss” for Mark McClennan is: Identity+30: The Future of Identity Sam Lessin, Director of Products, Facebook Sunday, March 10, 5:00-6:00pm -- Sheraton Austin, Capitol View South Beginner - #sxsw #idplus30 One thing that many people find troubling is our society’s inability to think and plan more than a handful years into the future. This relatively short term perspective is fully insufficient as we move towards an ever faster, more interconnected, and more dynamic world where we need to keep alive the discussion about the long-term implications of these emerging macro-trends. While he’s normally the moderator of these events, Sam Lessin, the founder of and current director of product at Facebook leading the Identity Product Group, will be speaking on what identity might look like in 30 years: Identity+30.


Parties @ SXSW... Big parties are accessible if you have a badge, but you might find that you’re spending more time waiting to get in than you are partying. One solution is to go at off-peak times and meet up with friends afterward. Be open to where the night takes you. For a list of all the parties at SXSWi: SXSWi Parties Our party recommendations are: Interactive Opening Party - Friday PayPal - Pop! In & Party - Saturday MashBash at SXSW - Sunday #VegasTech SXSW Party – Monday Interactive Closing Party – Tuesday (Kudos to you if you’re still going strong on Tuesday after a party every night. Not many people can do that) Be sure to go to one of the @NIGHT at #FEED parties sponsored by Twitter (there is one every night) MSLGROUP is a sponsor of Friday night’s TechSet party – register with the password “vip@sxsw” & we’ll see you there!


Hungry? Here’s a Few Picks … Although she now works at MSL Atlanta, Texas native Lindsey Kusiel keeps Austin close to her heart – and her stomach. Here’s what this UT grad and foodie has to say about Austin’s food scene: “Check out my restaurant, food truck, happy hour and activity suggestions all around the ATX! You and your taste buds won’t be disappointed. Follow me on Twitter @kutesiel if you have any questions or just want to tweet. Have fun at SXSW!!” Breakfast/Brunch: South Congress Café: Not only is South Congress Café the greatest brunch spot in town, but it’s on the South Congress strip – a popular spot for tourists. Don’t leave without trying their famous Bloody Mary! Cisco’s: Migas and biscuits, what more could you want? It’s a hole in the wall on East 6th Street. Don’t go if you’re turned off by old tables and lack of décor, but that’s what makes it so special. Juan in a Million: If you’ve never had a breakfast taco, then you’re in for a treat. Man vs. Food attempted the “Don Juan” taco – Try to eat as many Don Juan breakfast tacos as you can. Last I checked, the record was eight! Z Tejas: Check out this upscale southwestern brunch or dinner spot on West 6th Street. 24 Diner: Not your typical diner food. The best chicken and waffles in Austin.


Lunch: Torchy’s Tacos: Go to Torchy’s for the best breakfast taco for lunch you’ll ever eat. Try out the Migas, Brushfire, Baja Shrimp or make your own! Above all, don’t miss out on the chips & green chile queso as it’s the FINEST in town. Franklin Barbeque: If you want to get messy, check out Franklin BBQ for brisket, ribs, pulled pork, turkey, sausage and more. Don’t be scared away by the line that wraps around the restaurant! Perlas: Top patio spot in town for people watching and known for their yummy seafood and oyster bar. Fricanos: In the mood for a sandwich? Check out one of the most delicious paninis you’ll find in Austin. It’s right by UT Campus, so order to-go and walk up Guadalupe Street. Food Heads: Specialty sandwiches, soups, salads and sides are all made from scratch, and they have multiple tea flavors too. Hula Hut: Hula Hut is Mexican food with a Tiki twist! The restaurant sits on the lake, so ask for a prime table on the back patio. Hopdoddy: Known for their burgers and beer, hopdoddy offers the freshest, allnatural ingredients with buns made from scratch and baked fresh twice daily. Dinner: La Traviata: A delicious Italian bistro on Congress Ave. known for a variety of pasta dishes! This one is owned by a relative of someone in the home office. We nighly encourage a visit. Eddie V’s: The nicest seafood restaurant that downtown Austin has to offer. Order the Tuna Tartare to start, the Hong Kong Style Sea Bass or Bone-in Filet for your entrée and don’t leave without tasting the Bananas Foster Flambé for dessert. Matt’s El Rancho: For a real Tex-Mex experience, go to Matt’s El Rancho. It’s wonderful for big parties. Must drink Mexican Martinis (two is the limit!)


Manuel’s: This restaurant is a more upscale Mexican spot on Congress that offers tasty food and drinks. Vespaio: Italian at its finest. Vespaio is on South Congress and has authentic antipasti & salads, wood-fired pizzas, pastas from light to robust, extraordinary entrees, and decadent desserts. Uchi or Uchiko: Uchi is closer to downtown but Uchiko is larger, both offer Japanese small plates and sushi. If you’re a Top Chef fan, you know that Paul Qui (winner of Season 9) is the executive chef at Uchiko. Moonshine: Southern style American cooking on Red River Street. The Pecan Crusted Catfish and White Chocolate Bread Pudding are staples! Second Bar + Kitchen: Great cocktails with a delicious seasonal menu. The kitchen offers small plates and large entrees perfect for sharing or keeping to yourself. And in case you were wondering, we’ve tracked a few other things you need to know: Food Trucks:

Happy Hour:


1. East Side Kings

1. 219 West

1. LBJ Library

2. Hey Cupcake!

2. Iron Cactus

3. Mighty Cone

3. J Blacks Feel Good Kitchen and Lounge

2. Bats on the Congress bridge

4. Kebabalicious 5. G’Raj Mahal

3. Townlake

4. The Driskill Bar

4. Alama Drafthouse

5. Max’s Wine Dive

5. Barton Springs Pool 6. Zilker Park


Insider's Guide to SXSW-i  

SxSW is one of the top communications trend events in the world. If you are attending this year's SXSW-i, read our guidebook to learn all y...