We Moved!

Ketner Group is excited to announce our new digs! Last week, we moved into our new home, where we plan to stay for the next five years. While we’re still getting settled in, the new space is already serving us well.

When we moved to our previous office two years ago, it was always thought of as a short-term fix for our growing team. With our new space we have everything we need: an office for each full-time team member, a kitchen (!), a conference room, tons of open space and plenty of room to expand as our team grows.

We’re still working to get the entire space decorated, furnished and set up but we thought we’d share a few “before” photos.

The reception area. KG logo coming soon.
The reception area. KG logo coming soon.
 The conference room. You’ll see we still have some artwork to hang and need new furniture that scales better to the large room.

The conference room. You’ll see we still have some artwork to hang and need new furniture that scales better to the large room.
Lounge area between the offices.
Lounge area between the offices.
And most importantly…the kitchen! We didn’t have a kitchen at our last space so we’re pretty pumped to have a real kitchen with a sink.
And most importantly…the kitchen! We didn’t have a kitchen at our last space so we’re pretty pumped to have a real kitchen with a sink.

We hope that you’ll visit soon to see the finished space but until then, make sure you have our new mailing address on file:

Ketner Group PR + Marketing
3737 Executive Center Drive, Suite 210
Austin, TX 78731

Until Next Year NRF

NRF’s Big Show is officially over and we are back in Austin! After several cups of coffee consumed as well as analyst and media meetings coordinated for 13 clients, I think it’s safe to say this year’s show was one for the books. Check out what the Ketner Group team was up to while in the Big Apple.

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New Intern on the Block: Daniela Ramirez

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Photo provided by Daniela Ramirez.

This blog was provided by our intern, Daniela Ramirez.

Hello everyone! I’m Daniela Ramirez and I’m one of the new Ketner Group interns, it’s nice to e-meet you! I am currently in my final year at The University of Texas at Austin studying public relations. It’s hard to believe that I am a senior (cue the nostalgia) and already in my last two semesters of undergrad. Looking back as a curious freshman, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with public relations or the type of job I wanted to work in following graduation. Through previous internships and courses, I have been able to develop a trajectory and carve a more focused track. These experiences have led me to develop a more strategic outlook and make the most of my four years at the best school in the world (Hook ‘em!).

Having worked in a variety of communication and public relations roles in the beverage industry, music business working with niche, reggae-type artists and bands as well as non-profits, I have been able to widen my scope of knowledge and skills. I’m excited to work with the amazing team at Ketner Group and continue to develop my B2B communication skills, and not to mention, learn about some pretty cool retail technology! Having only been with the team for a short time, I already feel so welcomed and truly feel like a valuable asset.

Now, a little bit about myself. I’m from a small town near Fort Worth, Texas called Kennedale – maybe you’ve heard of it? That’s why I was so excited to move to Austin and really live in a place that I haven’t experienced before. I love everything about Austin and the energy that it offers; I don’t plan on leaving the city scene anytime soon (sorry, Mom!). I’m all about experiences and living in the moment. You can often find me seeking out the next place to try brunch, attending a concert in town or going to an improv comedy show. I love to meet new people and learn about their life. That’s what really intrigued me about studying public relations; it’s a discipline that’s all about sustaining relationships through authentic dialogue. It’s a field that’s conducive to learning and exploring new interests and allows you to build an arsenal of skills. I love diving into different industries and learning how they operate, hence the range of my internships. Overall, I’m an extrovert and love to surround myself with good company. I’m excited for the semester ahead and spending my time with Ketner Group. As a senior, I’m anxious as well as excited for what’s ahead, while ironically wanting time to slow down at the same time.

Looking forward, I hope to work in the agency world so I can continue to gain varied experience in one industry and widen my scope of knowledge. I can already see that interning at Ketner Group will make my public relations undergrad experience memorable and one-of-a-kind, and I am very excited for the wonderful opportunity!

Getting a Seat at the Cool Kids’ Table: SXSW PanelPicker Tips and Tricks

It’s hard to believe, but the programming preparation for SXSW Interactive 2017 is already underway. As many of us in the industry already know, the PanelPicker submission process kicked off last week and closes on July 22. Which means if you are working to submit a panel, duo, trio or solo session for next year’s line-up, you have exactly 15 days to finalize your panelists and hit the send button.

Courtesy of Ketner Group
Courtesy of Ketner Group

Getting selected to be a part of SXSW’s much coveted Interactive program is no easy task. The competition is fierce and it gets tougher every year when going up against highly sought-after tech speakers in the areas of robotics, virtual reality and machine learning, not to mention President Obama and J.J. Abrams.

Over the past two years, the Ketner Group team has led the charge in getting a few of our clients’ panels selected as SXSW speakers via the PanelPicker process, and in doing so, have learned a few tips and tricks.

For those of you who may not know, the PanelPicker process goes something like this:
It is a “three-step online process” that allows the SXSW community to have a voice in programming. The first step encourages the community to enter proposals for daytime conference programming for all SXSW events; the second step allows the community to browse all of these ideas, leave comments and vote for those they think are the best fit. The third step, not open to the public, is the input of the SXSW staff and advisory boards, which helps ensure that less well-known voices have as much of a chance as being selected to speak at SXSW as individuals with large online followings. The voting breakdown looks like this: Public Votes – 30%, SXSW Advisory Board – 40% and SXSW Staff – 30%.

While one can argue that luck and timing plays a huge part in getting picked for the “cool kids” table at SXSW, there is something to be said for paying close attention to the things that the advisory board and the SXSW staff recommend when putting forth a session to be voted on. According to SXSW, “Fully-proofed, narrowly-focused, forward-thinking ideas that emphasize creativity and innovation will have the best chance of successfully navigating SXSW community voting, staff analysis and Advisory Board feedback.”

Here are a just a few recommendations from the Ketner Group team on organizing a successful panel at SXSW:

  • It has been our experience that having at least one or two high profile speakers, whether by name or association with their company, coupled with an eye-catching topic that is new and different, is key. Our clients who have been selected for SXSW Interactive programming in recent years have used titles such as the “Future of Cool” and “Ghost Economy,” for their sessions, combined with speakers from Google, Zappos and Brooks Brothers.
  • Some of the coolest sessions that I’ve been to at SXSW have also included well-known media or industry analysts, such as this session from 2015 titled “Personalization for the People,” featuring Forrester’s lead ecommerce analyst and a reporter from CNBC, in addition to an executive from Sephora.
  • Take the time to review the sessions that were selected in previous years – SXSW loves featuring new speakers and new, never-seen before topics and data. As well, when recruiting for speakers, try to find candidates that have presented at other industry events – part of the submission process is to upload videos of the proposed speakers doing what they do best, speak! SXSW is looking to fill their programming with engaging folks who will, for lack of better words, put butts in the seats.
  • Learn all you can from others who have been successful at SXSW, and don’t make the mistakes of others. SXSW is hosting best practices meet ups in multiple cities over the next few weeks – take advantage of these events to learn how to make your proposal stand out. As well, there are plenty of blogs and articles, like ours here, that will give you guidance on what works and what doesn’t. Check out this great article in the Austin American-Statesman that outlines four concepts that make a better panel for SXSW audiences.

If your panel does get selected for SXSW, that’s when the real work begins! Stay tuned for future blogs on how to best prepare your speakers for SXSW and how to successfully promote your panel leading up to the festival. In the meantime, if you need any guidance on submitting a panel for SXSW this year, feel free to contact me at [email protected] and our team would be glad to help!

Good luck!

 

Ice Cream’s Biggest Fan (and our new Intern): Meet Cambria!

Hello! My name is Cambria Sawyer, and I am thrilled to be joining the Ketner team as their newest intern! And yes, Cambria as in the font, wine, California town, and the heavy-progressive rock band Coheed and Cambria- but I am actually named after an old sailing ship in Rhode Island. My middle name is one of the most commonly chosen for children in China, but I’ll let you guess about that one!

CambriaWords are some of my favorite things on this earth. You can use them for good or evil, express your deepest thoughts and feelings, ask for ice cream (very important use of words), harness them to become closer to someone or push them farther away, motivate people toward life-changing action and a million other things. Words are powerful but also mischievous- it is not always known what effect they will have, and I think that is so dang cool. It’s truly a science to figure out how to best approach communication, and I think that is why I am so drawn to the fields of PR and marketing- they are mysterious and very, very fun.

My first major try at figuring out words came last year when I ran the promotion, marketing and creative aspects of a local non-profit’s 5K. We decided to call it the Record Run (themed around breaking a new world record every year), and broke the world record for the number of pennies collected for charity with over 500,000 pennies. Although it was my greatest challenge yet, I had an absolute blast branding the race, contacting media and strategizing for how to get more runners at the starting line. If you’ve ever wondered what half a million pennies look like, you can check it out here.

During my internship freshman year at the Frank Erwin Events Center, I had the Cambriaopportunity to approach marketing from an entirely different angle. Between holding interviews, analyzing social media response, and blog-writing, the learning curve was steep and also totally awesome. Plus, getting to high-five practically every professional fighter in the UFC was an added bonus.

Of course, there are a few completely non PR-related things that play a considerably large role in my personality, so here you have it:

  • I am six feet tall, but I am an absolute sucker for a pair of high heels.
  • My younger brother has a severe form of Tourette Syndrome. He and I have become ambassadors for the Tourette Association of America to help raise awareness and funding for the disorder. I am also currently writing a book about my family’s journey with Tourette’s (there are just way too many good stories for them to go untold).
  • If you give me ice cream, we are friends.
  • I absolutely love to travel and try new things. If you want to go on an adventure, the answer is almost always yes.
  • I am a drummer- I spent seven years in percussion, and four years playing tenors (55 lbs) on drumline. My next step is to learn steel drums!

Going into my sophomore year at The University of Texas at Austin as a PR major, I could not be more excited about the adventures that await me both on and off-campus. I am so thrilled to have been welcomed here at Ketner Group, and am excited to see what I can learn from such a talented team!

Girls Can Run the World

When my husband and I found out that we were pregnant with our first child, we were of course thrilled! Starting our own family was very important to us and we couldn’t wait to find out whether it was a boy or a girl. A few months later we got the word – we would be having a baby girl. I was beyond excited and immediately started shopping for cute baby girl dresses, bows, socks (with plenty of Texas Tech gear, of course) and started planning the color scheme and décor for her nursery. She was going to be the sweet, perfectly styled baby girl I always wanted.

Then it hit me – I’m having a girl. I pondered about what she’d be like – would she be the shy girl like me or would she inherit my husband’s strong personality? I also thought about all the things that go along with raising a girl – from teaching her how to fix her hair, helping her deal with friendships, how to cope with boyfriends and having the serious “talks” about her body. It was all very overwhelming to think about, but I knew that my husband and I would be up to the task.

Nine years later, it turns out that my beautiful Madeline most certainly got her father’s personality and height! She is mentally and physically strong, intelligent and inquisitive and has all of the qualities and the confidence of a good leader. (Case in point, she refused to get in the back of the tug of war line with the rest of the girls, insisting on being at the very front with all of the boys in the class!) Of course she has squabbles with her little girl friends from time to time, which has resulted in hurt feelings and some tears. But Madeline is not the type of person to dwell on things for too long, and is very quick to bounce back from anything that gets her down. I’d like to give my husband and I a “high-five” for all of this, but the truth is that I believe that 50% of her personality, and the personalities of all young girls, come with them on the day they were born.

The other half, well, that’s on us as parents and the rest of you out in the world. What can we as parents and the “global village” do to help our young girls grow into strong and capable members of society? What’s more, what can we all do to help them become the leaders of tomorrow?

When I heard about the #BanBossy campaign, I was immediately intrigued. Ban Bossy is a public service campaign designed to help girls flex their leadership muscles while having fun do it. It was developed in partnership with the Girls Scout of the USA, Rachel Simmons (co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute) and LeanIn.org. According to their website,
Girl Scouts
“When it comes to girls and ambition, the pattern is clear: girls are discouraged from leading. When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy”—a precursor to words like “aggressive,” “angry,” and “too ambitious” that plague strong female leaders. Calling girls bossy is one of many things we do to discourage them from leading. It’s no wonder that by middle school, girls are less interested in leadership roles than boys, a trend that continues into adulthood.”

The campaign provides leadership tips for girls, teachers, parents and Girl Scout leaders, to encourage confidence and leadership for young women. I thought this would be a wonderful lesson for Madeline’s Girl Scout troop. My two female co-workers (who also used to be in Girl Scouts) graciously offered to co-lead the meeting with me and talk to the girls about what it means to be a leader and how important it is to speak up and stand up for yourself and your friends.

Girl Scouts Silly
The meeting was a hit! We divided the girls into groups and had each of them act out different skits that allowed them to showcase different scenarios on being a leader and being a good friend. We talked to the girls about what it means to be “bossy” and that it is ok to be “the boss.” The girls loved hearing us talk to them about being the very best they can be and the importance of being confident young ladies.

One of the girls told us that sometimes people call her a “know it all” but that she really didn’t care. Awesome. That same girl told us later in the meeting that she wants to be President of the United States, and I’ve just learned from her mother that she has instituted a family newsletter with deadlines, assigned columns, etc. Even more awesome. Watch out world, this girl is going places!

As for Madeline, I know she is going places, too. My husband and I will continue to do our part to nurture her confidence, but I ask that the rest of you help us in the process. Please encourage Madeline and all young girls to dream big. A woman’s place is anywhere she wants it to be.

I encourage you to check out Ban Bossy and the below campaigns designed to encourage and inspire young women:

Meet Kathleen See

Hey y’all! I’m Kathleen See, the newest member of Ketner Group! The past few days have been such a whirlwind, but I’m so excited to hit the ground running with Ketner Group as an account executive. By the way, my coworkers are awesome, like “Let’s watch the World Cup together before your first day” awesome. I can already tell that I’m going to LOVE working with this multi-talented team! Everyone should be jealous they don’t get to work with this awesome, dynamic group of individuals.

Kathleen See, StaffI hail from Mississippi. Yes, I do own multiple pairs of shoes, and I even wear them some days. Saying that makes me think of the “Mississippi, Believe It” advertising campaign in 2008. The campaign was all about discrediting negative stereotypes about Mississippi and its people. I really enjoyed that campaign because it was so direct about addressing common stereotypes. Maybe that’s what triggered my passion for communications and advertising messages. You can see more about the campaign here.

In 2012, I graduated from Mississippi State University with a bachelor’s degree in Communication and an emphasis in public relations. Sorry to disappoint all you Longhorn fans, but I’m an SEC girl all the way. Plus, let’s be honest, that orange doesn’t look good on anyone.

Last Friday was my first day in Austin, so I’ve been running around like a chicken trying to get all my affairs in order and to see all the sights of Austin. Coming from Jackson, Miss., there is no comparison between activities and experiences to be had. Although I will say that Jackson has a lot going on this summer with the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer. There are a lot of memorials and celebrations happening throughout the state this summer. If you’re looking for something to do with the family that has educational and historical significance that’s not too expensive, I highly recommend heading that way for a few of those this summer.

In my short 24 years, I’ve learned that the best way to experience a city is to eat your way through it, and I’ve come to realize that some of the best memories I have involve a meal, whether they be around a table enjoying one or in the kitchen creating one. That being said: all you foodies out there, comment below with places I should try in Austin.

Also I can already tell that I’m going to have to become more outdoorsy. That should be interesting. I’ll let you know how that one goes.

Fun facts are one of my weird things I love to know and learn. They hold no actual value other than for trivia night. Here are some fun facts about me and my quirks:

  • Before joining Ketner Group, I spent two years with the Mississippi Children’s Museum. I learned so much with them working in the non-profit and attraction fields. Working for the museum gave me such a unique perspective on integrating fun and education through the activity, exhibits and outreach programming messaging.
  • I don’t like sandwiches. It is few and far between where you will actually catch me eating a sandwich.
  • And I don’t eat peanut butter. I know I’m a statistical anomaly.
  • Being a Mississippi State fan, of course I own a cowbell, and I’ve gotten blisters from ringing it a little too excessively.
  • Reality television is my guilty pleasure. I’m not proud of it.
  • One of my biggest pet peeves is using shorthand in text messages, like ROFL, IMHO, so on and so forth. (Sorry, Mom and Dad, even when you do it.) I know that they are the best solutions to 140 character limits, but not in a text message.
  • Oxford commas make my skin crawl.
  • When I grow up, I want to be philanthropic and give back to the communities and organizations that have given me opportunities and shaped me into the person I am today.
  • Both of my parents are pilots, so I grew up going to airshows on weekends and during the summer. It was definitely not a normal family outing compared to the other family vacations my classmates would come back to school telling everyone about. Those hot, noisy days are some of my most treasured childhood memories.
  • I can write my name backwards and upside down.

I want to know what tips for navigating traffic, restaurants to try and things everyone living in Austin needs to know. I’m looking forward to your suggestions! I cannot wait to see what adventures Ketner Group and Austin have in store for me!

How a Retailer’s Mobile App Could be it’s Best Friend

This blog post originally appeared on Digby’s The Mobile Retail Blog, contributed by Caitlin New

Last weekend I went to a big box home goods store, lets call them Cot, Tub & Forever, armed with its mobile app and a few gift cards from the holidays that were burning a hole in my pocket. As an experienced shopper, PR/marketing communicator and retail technology professional—skills that could be my best or worst enemy while shopping—I shopped with an analytical eye on how the home goods retailer used its mobile app to improve my in-store experience.

I’d like to start with the ways this retailer’s mobile app is very helpful. If you’re a bride, groom, parent-to-be, college-bound student or other individual who’d create a registry, then this retailer’s mobile app is extremely useful. Gift-seekers can scan items in-store to add them to a registry that is manageable at any time, in or out of the store.  Conversely, if you’re there to shop from a registry for one of the above mentioned individuals, and you forgot that pesky registry print out, you can pull it up and access it on the mobile app.

You can also pretty easily search for products using the mobile app and see photos and basic product details. Have gift cards like I did? You can look up the balance using the app while you’re in the store so you can decide how crazy to be with the amount of toss pillows you toss in the cart. Speaking of carts, if that amazing ruffle pillow is not available in the store, just add it to your mobile cart and buy it right there.

However, while I found the mobile app an excellent baseline, I could not help but feel that if the app knew more about my context, including location, the experience could have been that much better. Here are a few ideas about where I think Cot, Tub & Forever can maximize the effectiveness of its app to make my experience even better.

Let me store my coupons and gift cards in the app. I get email and mail coupons often from this retailer and I always set them aside so I can use them when I’m feeling the home goods shopping itch. I also have received a number of gift cards from friends and family for Christmas because I recently became a new homeowner. However, I never seem to have the gift cards or coupons with me when I find myself in one of the stores! Mobile loyalty apps and wallets are becoming more and more visible in retail, and storing coupons and gift cards in the mobile app for use in-store is an easy step towards this capability. I most likely would have done my in-store shopping spree much earlier if I had been able to store the gift cards in my phone.

Communicate with me when I’m near the store. What better way to remind me of those coupons and gift cards than when I’m near the store? Installing location-based capabilities in a mobile app is the best way to reach me precisely when and where I’m in the position to make a purchase decision. The parking lot of Cot, Tub & Forever is usually shared with other retailers, and if I’m in the parking lot for something else, a friendly reminder that I’ve got ‘money’ burning a hole in my pocket…or app…goes a long way towards closing a sale!

Give me more product details—make it social. Having product search functions as a part of its app is a good start. However, when I’m in the store, I want to know more about the toss pillow I’m holding before I drop it in my basket. If ratings and reviews, product videos or recommended products were added to the product pages, I’d be much more likely to buy that pillow and its recommended throw.

Let me add customer profile preferences. I actually want to hear from my favorite retailers, and it would be amazing if our conversation was tailored to my preferences and shopping behavior. If Cot, Tub & Forever wanted to know which product categories interested me the most, I could easily tell them that I most often search for home décor, bed and bath more than any other category. They could adjust their marketing messages to me accordingly. Also, if they knew how frequently I shopped there, they could reward me with different levels of incentives to bring me back in.

Regardless of my mind constantly working in “work mode” while I shop, I did have a pleasant experience during my recent Cot, Tub & Forever visit. My living room sends its thanks for the new toss pillows that now give my couch the pop of color it needed.

couch

Four Ways to Refresh Existing Website Content

Gini Dietrich

Guest post by: Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich and lead blogger at Spin Sucks.

In late 2011 and early 2012, the Public Relations Society of America undertook the big task of redefining public relations.

Before this happened, the industry was working with a definition that was 40 years old. It hadn’t been reviewed since 1982.

In 1982, E.T. came out. John Belushi died. Knight Rider was a popular television show. Prince William was born. Seven people died from taking cyanide-laced Tylenol. The first issue of USA Today was published. And the Times “man of the year” was the computer.

A lot has changed since 1982. Not only have TV shows and movies grown up, so has Prince William and an entire industry. Social media has completely turned the PR industry on its head and technology is changing more quickly than ever before.

The evolution of technology is so fast, it’s reaching millions -and even billions-of users in no time at all.

Consider this: It took older technologies years to reach 50 million users…and then just a few months as it evolved.

  • Radio: 38 years.
  • TV: 13 years.
  • The Internet: Four years.
  • IPod: Three years.
  • Facebook added 100 million users in just nine months.
  • iPod app downloads hit one billion in nine months.

Nearly every year we have a new social network introduced. Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, SnapChat. The list continues to grow and it’s not only the job of communicators to keep up, it’s your job as business leaders to stay abreast of the changes so you can lead your team during the digital age.

Websites are about the Customer

Technology is creating some amazing opportunities for all of us, but also causing some distress. You used to have a PR team (internal or external) that focused on employee communications, media relations, reputation management, financial reporting, the annual report, public affairs, and maybe some events.

Today PR professionals also have to be knowledgeable about web development, mobile marketing, search engine optimization, content marketing, and more.

The web, it turns out, is extremely important in the job of a PR professional. Much more important today than it was in the previous decade, as new technologies are introduced and companies are struggling to figure out how to add the latest and greatest tool to its overall marketing strategy.

It used to be your website was an online version of your corporate brochure. But times, they are a changin’. Your website now needs to be a living and breathing document that changes consistently (at least once a week, according to a Hubspot study) and becomes less about you and more about your customer.

Refresh Existing Content

The first place you want to start is your website by taking out the French – the we, we, we (oui, oui, oui – get it?!?).

  1. Find the French. Depending on how you like to work, you can either print out every page of your website (not very green, but it works) or you can go into your content management system and do a search. Look for every word that is about you. Look for “we,” “our,” “us,” and similar words. This is the copy you’ll have to rewrite.
  2. WIIFM. What’s in it for me means the copy you rewrite becomes about the customer, instead of about you. You tell them what your organization does for them. You use words such as “you” and “your.”
  3. Testimonials. Update your testimonials. Some of you will have them in text as a quote. Get these on video. We have a client who held a user’s event a couple of weeks ago. They hired a videographer to spend two hours at the conference and the marketing director got users on video talking about who they were, what they do, and how they use the client’s product. The stories ended up being really compelling. One user rescues dogs and finds them permanent homes. He talked about that and then spent 30 seconds talking about the client’s product. Mailchimp also does this really well. Rather than have the customers talk about how much they love the email software, they talk about their own businesses or interests or hobbies and how the product fits into their lives. Very compelling stuff.
  4. Case studies. This is what we’ll call social proof – the reason another person should buy from you. Most case studies are boring text with nothing interesting in them. Make them multimedia. Add images. Add charts. Add infographics. Even think about whiteboard automation. Make them so interesting, prospects can’t wait to buy.

Once this project is complete – and it will take some time – you can focus your energies on other owned media, such as white papers, webinars, blog posts, and videos.

To learn more, check out Gini’s latest book – Spin Sucks – on sale this week!

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Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is officially here!

Wearable Tech: Are You Ready?

Image of Google Glass, published in 2014 on ReadWriteWeb

SXSW 2014 has come and gone, and those who call Austin home are either still recovering from the constant state of exhaustion that goes hand in hand with doing SXSW right, or are beginning to venture out of their homes again into the world they had been so desperately avoiding for the last 10 days. The festival and all its visitors may have left, but the top trends are still buzzing about the tech community. Our last blog post focused on the top three hot topics we noticed at SXSW this year, but we wanted to dive a little deeper into each theme, as they all require a closer look into the current and future states of industry.

I attended a panel session titled “Come and Capture: The Future of Wearables & Content” that brought in four experts from Loopd Inc., Epiphany Eyewear, DAQRI and 4iiii Innovations to discuss the future of wearable technology and how it might evolve into a more integrated piece of our everyday world. In a room of close to 200 SXSW attendees, about 60% of people polled (via hand raise) said they would be interested in using wearable tech in the next five years. As the Interactive portion of the conference attracts innovators and early adopters on the whole, this wasn’t surprising after looking around to see three or four pairs of Google Glasses. It’s a “new” technology that seems too out there, too strange and superficial for mass consumption by the general public, but maybe we should take a closer look…

The first wearable technology technically came in the form of the pacemaker, according to the panelists. It’s embedded in the heart, and sends radio signals to another device that tracks cardiovascular activity and sustains stable functionality so that the wearer can react accordingly for long-term health. More common wearable tech accessories exist today such as fitness trackers for the wrist, ankle or as a shoe insert, which tracks activity level on a daily basis, and runs stats on heart rate, movement, and sleep so users can track their own unique health status. What more can there be to wearable technology? Let’s find out.

Wearable technology is based on augmenting the human ability in order to interact with the spaces, objects and content around you. While it can be extremely useful in many verticals, both on the consumer and industrial sides, a certain level of comfort and usability must exist. Technology used in movies like the Minority Report require constant arm movement when interacting with the content on a virtual screen, and while it may look super neat, who wants to be using their arms 8+ hours a day? Finding a balance between comfort and ease of use with accuracy will be key to widespread popularity of wearable tech.

Google Glass is the perfect example of wearable technology that is on the edge of innovation, but might have some not-so-subtle inconveniences when interacting with content. The Glasses themselves don’t necessarily look off-putting, but voice commands and gestures reveal the activity of a user when in public, causing many instances of offense and judgment toward the individual and device. As technology evolves and wearables become less foreign to the masses, the privacy issues will drop (remember when the first computers came out?), and technologists will find ways to consume content more efficiently using the devices.

But the issue of privacy may never completely disseminate, as it’s a global hot topic after the recent NSA scandal. People are wary of being tracked because they value their personal privacy, but as wearables gain traction among the general public, the moral conflict will need to be addressed. Beacon technology is growing as well, and if we’re all donning wearable devices in five years, we also need to know that those wearables are being tracked 24/7 – what’s important to you? Daily life enhanced with wearable technology vs. opening up your daily life to prying eyes…

Obstacles like these will crop up just as with any new technology pushing the envelope of what we’re accustomed to as a society. Ultimate self-realization will drive the move to widespread use, and time will tell just how quickly innovators bring on the early adopters and early majority.

To be able to walk into a room and immediately adjust it to your preferences will be an incredible thing. Temperature, lighting, application activation, news scanning and more can be controlled using wearable technology, and device interoperability will enhance our ability to consume content within every augmented object containing additional data and functionality. Today we are still using it mainly as fitness trackers and Google Glass, but more interactive features are certainly in the near future. Are you ready?

What do you think of wearable technology becoming mainstream? How might this impact your industry? We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!