Whether this is going to be your first SXSW Interactive or your 20th (hard to believe SXSW turns 20 this year), it's essential to know what's up before you step off that jetway into Austin because if you don't have a plan, you're going to get overwhelmed with all the everything going on everywhere all around you.
If you want the extensive 20-year history of SXSW Interactive, here's FastCompany's timeline and interviews, but be prepared to read lots about CD-ROMs.
Even if you're a seasoned SXSW veteran, you might want to take a look at these tips to maximizing your experience in Austin: everything from the basics like "wear comfortable shoes" and "don't overload on parties," to good practical advice like: "contact people before you go." SXSW can be a madhouse. If there's someone you want to meet there, let them know in advance. You can even schedule a meeting with them using SXSW's propriety social network SXsocial, which is free for registered attendees.
Here are a dozen or so events that are ideal for anyone in the business of media:
Should brands be a part of the real-time convo? Reflections of last year's Super Bowl's "Oreo Moment."
Content & Commerce: The digital cronut .A "cronut" is a combination of a ... oh, you know what a cronut is. They're saying that content and commerce together should be mutually beneficial. So why isn't there an effective new business model for digital journalism or content creation yet?
What Do Marketers Want from Mobile? Besides everything, of course.
Brands Centered around Artistic Communities Usig 3D printing technology, brands are learning that artistic communities are great breeding grounds for great ideas that might actually work.
Brands, Film and Impact The outdoor gear company Patagonia partnered with filmmakers who made a documentary film about activists removing unnecessary dams to replenish wetland ecosystems. How can this concept work for other brands that serve consumers driven by activism? Here's your chance to find out.
Decoding the Cult Brand Genome How do companies like Red Bull and Urban Outfitters get consumers to buy not just the product but the brand's sense of itself? This panel promises the six tricks of the cult-brand trade in 12 minutes.
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Building Brands in the New Heartland Despite the panel's title, this is an event more about brand-artist relations than brand-geography relations, but it's being led by an industry pro with experience doing branded content work with performing artists ranging from Beyonce to Tom Petty.
Blueprint for Brand Advocacy How do you make content go viral? If we knew, then this panel wouldn't be such a hot ticket that registrants MUST reserve a seat, have a valid SXSW badge and an active SXsocial account. This event is for influencers and PR professionals as a prerequisite.
The Neurochemistry of Brand Love Explore the nexus of neurochemistry, psychology and marketing in this event designed to explain how brain science drives sales.
Biopunk Marketing: Biohacking for Brands One can only assume this is a panel that will discuss how to serve ads directly into people's brains and why people would want this to happen.
Evolution of Storytelling: Brands as Broadcasters This event will explore the parallels between the evolution of television and the disruptive effects of the internet on traditional broadcast models. Priority seating is available for this event here.
Are Brands the New Musical Tastemakers? An appropriate topic for SXSW, where music and brand marketing collide. As bands seek for new avenues to reach audiences and brands seek authentic engagement with their consumers, this is a match made in marketing heaven.
Say Media will be at SXSW too:
Fearlessly Funny: The Women Changing Digital Humor Jane Pratt, founder of Sassy and Jane magazines and now editor in chief of xoJane.com, has assembled a panel of brilliant, irreverent and hilarious women for this SXSW session. Join the industry's game changers as they discuss what women actually find funny and how social media has empowered humor through shameless oversharing.
#siliconvalleyproblems: Can We Fix the Tech Mess? Owen Thomas is the editor-in-chief of ReadWrite, one of the most widely respected and read technology sites on the Web. But before he got there, he spent 17 years working in the trenches of technology journalism, from the scathing, groundbreaking Suck.com to the trendsetting Red Herring to the fearsome Valleywag. In this talk, Owen will share what he's learned from taking on the Valley's reality distortion field and telling the unvarnished truth about entrepreneurs, investors, and other bubble blowers. This will be great.
And of course SXSW is also a music festival. Join us at the Say Media + xoJane #xoshameless official SXSW party celebrating the 25 most shameless people on the Web and catch an amazing lineup of hot new musical acts including The Jane Doze, DJ Brendan Fallis and Swedish pop star Tove Lo on Monday March 11.
RSVP here to reserve your spot - and we'll see you there!