Tag Archives: SXSW

Trust at Scale: Harnessing Authentic #Advocacy for Your Brand #SXSW

influencers v advocatesMedia fragmentation and information overload stymies ad effectiveness. Consumers are ignoring digital ads, and overall, trust in brands is declining, a trend which according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, is accelerating.

Influecers vs. Advocates

How can brands convey communications in a trustworthy matter that resonates with their audiences?  The key, according to Jim Larrison (@jlarrison) of Dynamic Signal, is advocacy, and this doesn’t simply mean paying an industry bigwig to tweet on your brand’s behalf.

Jim’s presentation centered on importance of finding passionate advocates amongst employees and the “mid-tail” of the influence spectrum – connected people who have enough social media pull to move the needle in a particular sector, and who really care about the industry or segment.

These trusted peers who are talking about relevant topics have the real ability to drive individual behavior.   And those ‘trusted peers’ include employees, who have significantly more credibility than the C-suite, according to the aforementioned Edelman Trust Barometer.

Why advocacy works is simple: it’s centered on trust, and done well, it’s trust at scale [tweet this].  But brands and marketers need to realize they’re not renting trust – it’s not a transactional relationship.  Herein lies the challenge, because most marketers today stop marketing at the buy.  They are optimizing for the purchase event, not building advocacy.

Rewards for advocacy can be surprisingly simple

The rewards advocates value are simple.  Employees are motivated by simple recognition, as are brand fans and followers.  Access to unique content and authentic relationships are also rewards they value.  And tangible rewards – membership in a group, swag and prizes, are also important — but not as much as the recognition and access.

Marketers who develop advocacy programs dramatically increase marketing effectiveness.   In addition to being authentic and credibility, empowering and cultivating advocates also covers more surface area within the marketplace.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

A Twist on Crisis Planning: When Allies Attack

You’ve heard the adage “Familiarity breeds contempt,” and arguably, there’s no place it’s more true than in the realm of online opinion.  Today at SXSW, a session titled “Breaking the Mold: What to Do When Allies Turn” tackled the subject of frangible online alliances, and what to do when things go south.  The discussion was lead by:

  • Jehmu Greene, TV Commentator & Media Trainer at Fox News (@jehmu)
  • Joanne Bamberger, Editor/Publisher, Broad Side Strategies (@jlcbamberger)
  • Sally Kohn, Writer & TV Commentator, Movement Vision (@sallykohn)
Mmes Kohn, Bamberger and Greene.

Mmes Kohn, Bamberger and Greene. (Sally, thanks for making sure I knew who you were, but I recognized you from Crossfire. Just saying.)

Dealing with blowback is never fun, but when people or organizations that were you thought were in your corner turn the tables and attack, working through the situation can be demoralizing.

Kohn advised getting in front of potential problems by building credibility and goodwill within your community.  While goodwill won’t insulate you from online attackers,  building a credible and engaged network is a way to develop virtual comrades-in-arms.

When haters go “all sharknado” on you, it’s important to remember their motives, advised Bamberger.

“Haters are all about control,” Bamberger advised. “It’s not about you, it’s about them trying to stake out their territory.”

Kohn referenced the “Disapproval Matrix” created by Ann Friedman as a guide for discerning the difference between critics and haters.

Sussing out the difference between critics and haters is an important tactic in managing online attacks.  Critics care about the issue, and on some level are offering constructive feedback.  Haters, on the other hand, care more about themselves.  Embrace critics, and try to tune out the haters.

Planning for controversy is also crucial, all three agreed.  Anticipate reactions and have your facts locked down.

When dealing with rampant haters – the avalanches of nasty tweets and relentless evil e-mails – all three offered tips while also acknowledging the fact that meanness stings.

“Laughing at them takes their power away,” said Kohn.

” If you step in it, remember that $#*^ can be wiped off a shoe.” Greene agreed.

Ultimately, if everyone is agreeing with you, you’re not making an impact Greene reminded us.  Challenging conventional wisdom is leadership, and Kohn noted that sometimes, being liked isn’t part of that equation.

“You can’t worry about being liked,” summarized Kohn. “Negative blowback is one of the costs of leadership.”
Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

The Secret to Real-Time Storytelling Revealed at #SXSW

What’s the secret sauce for real-time storytelling? Telling a story as it unfolds requires significant planning.  At SXSW today, I got a look behind the scenes at the making of the Melbourne Remote Control Tourist campaign, an extraordinary piece of work masterfully produced by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, Tool and Exit Films for Tourism Victoria. Our guides were:

Dustin Callif, managing partner of digital, Tool North America

Jason Nickel, interactive director & technologist, Tool North America

Jason Zada, director, Tool North America

Together, the three told the story of creating the Remote Control Tourist (“RCT”) an example of what they call real-time storytelling, which they describe as the merging of social media and live action, and having the audience impact what’s happening with a narrative.

The project started with the task of “curating the city,” which involved finding the best and most interesting things in Melbourne, but doing so with an eye toward the logistics of filming.

“You have to start from the standpoint that this will be something good that people will want to watch,” noted Zada. “The second you started being boring, people start leaving. When you are doing  a show like this, every single second needs to be as interesting as it can be.”

The user interface also required an extraordinary amount of work. There were a lot of moving parts, starting with an interactive map, into which the team built a lot of functionality including realtime updates on the RTC’s status as well as background  information and context for each location.  All of this was framed around the live video, and overlayed with near real-time social interactions.

The campaign exposed the fun and positive messages about Melbourne to more than 100MM people worldwide, and resulted in the world’s first crowd-sourced city guide.    Thousands of people made requests of the tourists during the live window, and the wide-ranging RTCs garnered some surprising celebrity cameos, too.  Despite the visibility generated, at the end of the session, Callif noted the value of high quality owned media and recognized that even more could have been done.

“There’s a PR hook in this stuff that needs to be capitalized on,” he said, noting that in the next project, he’d want to more emphasis on  leveraging the content to earn more attention.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

#SXSW Interactive 2014 : First Look At Trends & Themes

sxlogoWe’re in Austin this week for South By Southwest Interactive, which kicks off later today.

This event is one of my favorite of the year – for me, it’s a one-week crash course in what the future holds for anyone involved in the digital space.

A 360 degree look at privacy

Despite the fact that SXSWi is now firmly in the mainstream, and is no longer a funky little nerdfest, a look at emerging themes from this year show the event hasn’t strayed far from its roots.   The big story this year is our notion of privacy, and (more specifically) where privacy intersects with things like national security and digital marketing.

Edward Snowden and Julian Assange will both be addressing the digital faithful, via satellite.  (The Texas Tribune will be livestreaming Snowden’s address here: http://www.texastribune.org on Monday, March 10 at 11 CT.)

My partner in crime at SXSW - PR Newswire's VP of audience development, Vicky Harres.

My partner in crime at SXSW – PR Newswire’s VP of audience development, Vicky Harres.

Underpinning the focus on privacy is an emerging theme of “how to do what is right” with respect to user data and individual privacy.  On the one hand, organizations can use our individual data to provide us with customized experiences, relevant information and advertising that actually reflects things we care about.  On the other hand, some of these measures are designed specifically to separate us from our dollars, and let’s face it – some of it is creepy.  The panels and keynotes around privacy promise to make us think and, true to the SXSW spirit, some promise to stand conventional wisdom on its head.

The digital user experience

Web design evolves incredibly quickly, keeping pace with emergence of new platforms and devices we use to live our lives online, and I remain convinced that content creators (PR people, I’m talking to you too!) can learn a lot from the wizards of UXD (user experience design) – after all, they are creating the environment in which our content will be consumed.    This year it looks like personalization will be a consistent theme in the UX sessions.

Do it all differently, and better

Fostering innovation, continuous learning and recalibrating our organizations to absorb and captitalize upon the changes the digital revolution continues to bring are the focus of a large set of panels and keynotes.    After all, SXSW is first and foremost about change, but for change to happen, organzations and people need to be ready to embrace it.

How we’re covering SXSW:

Keep your eye on the Beyond PR blog – we’ll be posting updates over the weekend, and re-blogging posts from Beyond Bylines, our new media blog.

Vicky and I will be live-tweeting sessions via @PRNewswire and our own handles, @sarahskerik and @victoriaharres.

Additionally, we’ll be sharing pictures on the PR Newswire Tumblr too.

If you’re here, tweet us, we’d love to say hi in person.  And if you’re not, join us in spirit digtially as we dive into SXSWi!

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

SXSW 2012 Video Recap: TnT TV Episode 2

Tom Miale and Thomas Hynes recap their second day at SXSW Interactive 2012 from the chilly rooftop of the Austin Convention Center. Hear them discuss branding, the future of journalism, social media’s intersection with television and everything else they saw, learned and heard.

Tune back in tomorrow for more TnT TV from the Toms, reporting live from SXSW!

19 Tips for Getting the Most Out of SXSWi

South by Southwest Interactive gets better – and bigger! – each year, and 2012 is no exception.  PR Newswire is sending a large team to the event, and I’ve been sharing some tips for navigating SXSW with some of our newbies.

Planning your SXSW experience:

Get organized:  Before you go, spend some time with the SXSW schedule and identify the sessions of most interest to you.  Then, note whether they are being held in the convention center, or one of the hotels. It can take some time to travel between venues, and many sessions fill quickly.  Simply put, you won’t be able to leapfrog between venues.  My best advice – picks a venue and stay there for several sessions. Our manager of blogger relations, Tom Hynes, agrees, noting, “Last year I found success in trying to stick to one track. For me it’s the journalism/media/publishing track. By not trying to do too much, I feel I was able to get a richer, albeit more focused experience.”

Don’t focus on just the big names:  As my colleague Vicky Harres, our director of audience development and a fellow SXSW veteran says, “There are treasures in the trenches.”  Some of the best sessions we’ve attended featured speakers that weren’t big names, but who had unbelievable experience to share.  Hearing from the people who get down and dirty with development, implementation and making things really work is fascinating. Don’t skip a session just because you’ve never heard of the speakers.

Get out of your comfort zone: It’s tempting to focus on the sessions that align closely with your interests.  But do yourself a favor – spend some time exploring concepts that are foreign to you. SXSW features some of the brightest minds – take advantage and learn something new from the very best.

Flirt with serendipity: Did you miss out?  Go find a session nearby that’s not full. You’re still going to learn something.  Many of my best experiences at SXSW have been happy accidents.

Smile and say hi: You will meet interesting people everywhere.  The person sitting next to you on the bus or standing next to you in line might be launching a start up, looking for business partners, or hosting a party.  Smile and say hi! You never know who you’ll meet.  A couple years ago I offered some people hanging out waiting for the show shuttle bus a ride downtown in my rental car.  It turned out that one of the people who took me up on the offer was someone I had been communicating with via Twitter for more than a year.  As big as SXSW feels, it can be quite a small world!

Getting around Austin

The logistics of SXSW can be challenging, especially if you are staying at a hotel that’s not right downtown.

Grab a hotel shuttle:  Many of the outlying hotels are on an SXSW shuttle line.  Take advantage of the shuttles to ferry you back and forth.

Rent a car: This is not as crazy as it sounds, and is the way to go if you’re at an outlying hotel that’s not on the shuttle line. I rented cars several years running, and had no problem finding reasonably-priced parking downtown, about 4 blocks from the convention center.

Ride in a pedicab and pay those folks generously:  A battalion of very fit folks driving pedicabs (bicycle-cab thingies) abound and they are willing to haul your tired self to bars, parties or back to your car.  They are so worth it, and if you tip generously, you might be handed a business card and wind up with a guy that’s willing to come pick you up.

Apps to download:

SXSWGoThe official mobile app for SXSW, lets you build your schedule and stay up to speed with news and events.

Foursquare:  Even if you’re not into recording your every move in “real life” it’s fun to do so in Austin. Special badges are usually deployed for SXSW, which are often amusing.  And Foursquare is a great way to see where your friends are.

GroupMe: Group texting.  Essential if you’re part of a team.

Localmind:  An app that lets you check out what’s going on at your favorite bar or restaurant before you even get off your couch.  They’ve loaded SXSW party info into the app, so you can find out where people are (and how ridiculous the lines are) as you traverse Austin.

A QR code scanner: I’ve used I-nigma for a few years and it’s worked well for me.  Lots of information is available via QR code and the scanners are useful.

What to bring

Communications gear:  I will be taking two mobile phones (work and personal) and iPad and my laptop.  I don’t plan on lugging the laptop around during the day, but you never know.  Staying connected is crucial – and fun!

Back up power, and all of your chargers:  You will want to take every opportunity you can to replenish your batteries.  Backup power is also important.

Multiple pairs of comfy shoes.  Tom Miale, our director of multimedia engagement, notes “You will be on your feet for long periods of time. Substance trumps style here!”  My own advice – bring multiple pairs of shoes. You will be putting so much mileage on your feet that even old favorites might rub.

A water bottle.  Between racing around the event and staying up past your bedtime, you will need to stay hydrated.

An umbrella. Rain is in the forecast.  Texas needs rain so we are not complaining.

 Mints.  You’ll be in close quarters.  ‘Nuff said.

Have fun at SXSW!  To stay in touch with the PR Newswire crew, follow our PRN @ SXSW Twitter list, and keep an eye on our Tumblr page for photos and quick hits.

Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, and is the author of the free ebook Unlocking Social Media for PR.