Insider's Guide to SXSW-i

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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 you need to know about the conference, prepared by our veteran SXSWi attendees in North America - Stephanie Agresta, Laura Chavoen and Mark McClennan. Follow our conversations on the subject on Twitter with the hashtag #MSLGROUPSX and connect with us @msl_group for any feedback.

Transcript of Insider's Guide to SXSW-i


Insiders' Guide to SXSWi 2013


Congratulations. Youre 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 AgrestaStephanie 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 Bloggers Lounge (a social media influencer hub located inside the ACC), Stephanie loves connecting to her friends and colleagues IRL in Austin every year. When shes not in the Blogger Lounge or consuming content, look for her red cowboy boots in the lobby of the Four Seasons.

Laura ChavoenLaura is SVP Director of Digital Strategy at MSL Chicago. She is a wanna, be 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 shes 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, APRMark 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 PackingSXSWi 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:

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Bring comfortable shoes. Youll 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. Dont depend too much on technology being available. What? Isnt 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 dont want to miss your prime seat in the 10th row just because you need libation. Be aware of the weather. Austin in March has a wide range of weather. 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.

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Session Planning... Surviving in Austin...

Theres hundreds and hundredsespecially if your hotel is downtown.Look for the Austin is a very walkable city, of panel sessions and nearly all of them are great. You have the opportunity to get from location to remember that there are SXSWi shuttle buses to help you be choiceful. Just location. However, here are very some additional things to keep in mind: panels are at an introductory level. few bad choices. However, a lot of the So, if your skillsare driving, use the secret garage. If this could manage toopportunity If you are already somewhat developed, you didnt be your snag a 1 out within walking As you may have already There is a garage on defines to branchhotel even farther. distance of SXSWi dont despair. noted, SXSW now 2nd panels asstreet. If you Intermediate,you can probably snag a spot. Its just two blocks Beginner, get there early, or 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.

Before weGrabspecificfriend and explore. Not literally, of course. But you should a few get a new in our favorite panel choices, we want to point out 2 approach this adventurepanel opportunity to make and meet new friends and trends we noticed this year in as an topics.

Data data data Data capture, data analysis, data usage and data Keep time available for the random opportunity. Dont overschedule your privacy are top of mind for SX attendees, echoing what were seeing 3 time. Leave things relatively flexible. Permit yourself to indulge in that random and in business conversations. spontaneous world that is SX. There are multiple sessions focused on the issues and the tactics of data collection and management.

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

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Keep an ABC list of panels. First choice full? No prob. if you have your B list. You may even need of gamingGaming remainstier robust theme, The evolution your C list. The point is, make a list, a your selections and check it twice. This list strategyyears, weve seen brandsproductive schedule but over the past several will become your lifeline to a and business even when your priority plans fail.

View a keynote from a satellite. Unless you feel a compelling need to take development to adoption, integration and usage. in a keynote at the Convention Center, you may want to avoid the crowds. Most The Maker Culture continues often rooms where other interesting keynotes are shown in satellite locations, to surgeThe Maker Culture sessions will be held immediately afterward. into craftsmanship crowded has now broadened in topics, movingThese locations are less and play as and give tech and innovation. There are several sessions exploring much asyou quality networking time with those having similar interests. Satellitethe keynote locations are in each of the different venues. 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, its better not to become Twitter-insecure and spend your night chasing everyone elses good time. Try to relax and enjoy. 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.

taking note and the sessions shifting from experience, design and


business and role of Makers, both in terms of product development and Follow the well as leadership and management. creation asconversation on Twitter, but dont let Twitter own your every



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Session Planning...Theres 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. Data data data Data capture, data analysis, data usage and data privacy are top of mind for SX attendees, echoing what were seeing in business conversations. There are multiple sessions focused on the issues and the tactics of data collection and management. The evolution of gamingGaming remains a robust theme, but over the past several years, weve 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 surgeThe Maker Culture has now broadened in topics, moving into craftsmanship a