There are certainly many PR pros on the ground in Austin this week, helping their companies and clients get noticed at SXSW this week. Here's a fun post by fellow flack Peter Himler. Sounds like he's working hard partying goofing off.
My reading and observing the #SWSX tweetstream and hashtag on Twitter, I've noticed that the annual mega-event is not a "must-be-there" event for most PR professionals. After all, it's hard to get away for professional development, and even harder to justify going something that looks like a drunk-fest.
What can you learn from it even though you didn't make the trip to Austin?
- Tap into the treasure trove of information: Go to Slideshare.net and view recent SXSW presentations. Some are even downloadable. The competition to be a presenter is fierce, so only the best of the best make it. Be assured, there are new ideas and information to be discovered. Use the searchbar in the upper righthand corner of the screen and simply type in "SXSW." You can expand your search to order the results by date.
- Learn how to follow a tweet stream (live or later) If you're on Twitter, go to the search bar and simply type in the tag #SXSW, and it will bring up the latest SXSW tweets in real time. You'll be able to hone in on sub-tags as well. Click on any one of the subtags to begin following that stream. The SXSW tweetstream goes so fast it's almost unreadable, but you can find interesting people to follow by using this technique.
- Enter the conversation stream with additional information: If you want to comment on the SXSW tweet stream, it hardly matters if you are present at the event. Most people in Austin are tweeting each other from across town, anyway. Just be relevant, nice, and brief, and don't forget to tag your info with #SXSW. @Reply someone directly if you want to be sure to get their attention.
- Trendspotting: Quite a few technology giants (as well as startups) launch new products and services at SXSW every year. Check out all the panels, presentations and sponsored events on the official SXSW site. Check out the official launchof SlideRocket. Pretty cool.
- Plan your PR for next year: Just like a traditional trade show, pitching a journalist or a blogger starts well before the event. Do not expect to reach someone right before the next SXSW, or during the event. In fact, I've heard several journalists complain that it's too late to pitch them, and that they don't plan to answer work email until they return to the office.
Better yet, hop on a Delta flight, buy a pair of new sunglasses, and head to Austin next year to see what all the fuss is about. How about you? Have you been to SXSW? Would you go back?