Both Austin and myself are fully recovered from the sleepless madness that is the South By South West (SXSW) onslaught of all things branded and hipster and geeky-cool that is now a much-loved and/or much-hated March tradition, depending on whom you ask (and whether or not you ask them as they sit in gridlocked traffic courtesy of all the road closures).
Though March and April(!) have come and gone, as have the road closures, thank goodness, I’m still thinking about a few sessions at SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) that opened my eyes to new ideas, and that’s the true value of SXSWi. As a busy professional, and one of the 69% of PR professionals that eat lunch at their desks every day, it’s so easy to put on blinders as I sit, chained to my computer every day, waging war against deadlines and monitoring budgets. Everyone needs to shake it up sometimes, and two sessions in particular posed questions that, a month and a half later, I still can’t shake.
The first session that blew me away was #bingle, a joint session with Danny Sullivan, Founding Editor Search Engine Land at Google, and Duane Forrester, Senior Product Marketing Manager of Bing Webmaster Tools. A pure Q&A format, the conversation was fluid and candid as SXSWi attendees took to the microphone to ask the experts. See the whole #bingle twitter feed here—look at the tweets from March 8-14.
The main question I walked away asking myself was this: What is the value of wire distribution for press releases?
Search engines have been discounting press releases for SEO for years. So what’s the real value here? This question has come up a few times recently at KG, but hearing it directly from Google and Bing has increased our sense of urgency in reevaluating our internal processes. While we’ve always been very selective about which press releases we distribute via the wire and which circuits we recommend, we can still be more strategic in why and when we recommend wire distribution.
The other session that I still quote and think about daily (not exaggerating) was #socialb2b, “B2B Social Marketing: Blazing New Trails,” led by marketing experts Jamie Grenney, VP of Social Media & Online Video at Salesforce.com, Jason Bartlett, VP of Global Social Marketing at Xerox Corporation and Jeanette Gibson, Sr. Director of Social & Digital Marketing at Cisco Systems Inc. See the feed of tweets from March 11 here.
This session was packed with tidbits that have not just lingered in my memory, but have actually inspired change within myself and across KG:
And to quote myself quoting the panel:
The question that a session attendee asked the panel that still haunts me is: How can we translate big enterprise B2B social media success to much smaller companies with fewer resources?
The panel didn’t have an especially confident answer on that one, which is admittedly a really tough question with which the majority of businesses across the country struggle. The idea the panel did suggest, though, resonated with me. They all stressed how successful YouTube videos have been for their enterprises, and this is something many smaller companies do not invest in, but could produce on a budget. So long as there is a direct call to action within the first 15 seconds, YouTube videos are highly effective. One reason for this is how safe it is to share a familiar YouTube link. This point was driven home this week when I found an email from Networld in my inbox that aggregated some incredibly compelling stats about video:
- “89 million people in the United States are going to watch 1.2 billion online videos today.” (A second source: Comscore)
- “Online video users are expected to double to 1.5 billion in 2016.” (Source: MediaPost & Cisco)
- “Online video now accounts for 50 percent of all mobile traffic and up to 69 percent of traffic on certain networks.” (Source: TechCrunch & Bytemobile)
What’s more, PR giant FleishmanHillard saw the writing on the wall and this week announced they are rebranding from a traditional PR agency into a “channel agnostic” integrated marketing communications firm that will tackle digital marketing projects, including video.
SXSWi 2012 left me enlightened but exhausted. SXSWi 2013 left me inspired and recharged. The post-SXSWi zombie syndrome is always worth it to get out of my comfort zone and hobnob with the bright minds and progressive thinkers that are shaking up my industry. Ketner Group is committed to evolving with the times, staying fresh and current to bring our clients the most relevant, thoughtful counsel possible. We’re excited how far we have come—the new website, the new-and-improved PB&J blog, and the addition of the incredibly digitally-savvy Sara Lasseter—and we look forward to continuing to chart this new, more digital course through the rest of the year until SXSWi 2014, when we’ll fill up our inspiration tanks once more.