Category Archives: SXSWi

South by Southwest Interactive 2011

DiGennaro Shares Secrets for Success at SXSW 2016  

South by Southwest Panel Picker is here again, and it’s another opportunity for great insights, learnings, and dynamic industry leaders to come together. We at DGC have submitted two topics for the PanelPicker and if selected, it would be our first time to appear on the SXSW stage. The sessions highlight our unique approach to business and how these ideas have helped us grow since our founding in 2006.

Over the years we’ve learned a lot about attracting and retaining the very best talent in the PR industry, especially how to keep pace with an evolving workforce and offer more flexible work schedules and environments. As such, our first session is “Conducting Business in a Flex World.”  will share best practices on how to retain talent when employees embark on major life events such as marriage, pregnancy, family-care issues or relocation that can potentially make them leave their jobs. Included in the session will be our CEO Sam DiGennaro and our President Howard Schacter, who will share insights on how to create a flexible work environment that allows for flexibility but still encourages growth and maintains your company culture.

Our second session, “Brand Me Please: Personal Branding 101,” looks at how executives can build their brands to align with personal values. DGCers will conduct a live demonstration of a branding session, taking members of the audience and teaching them the basic skills to sell themselves. The “jury” will be comprised of both DGC executives, those from other agencies as well as wardrobe and body language specialists. The winner will get a trip to NYC for a Personal Branding boot camp at DGC headquarters.

We appreciate your votes for these sessions, and your willingness to share thoughts in the comments section. Hope to see you in Austin!

Creating a ‘Love Culture’ that’s Built to Last

“The first rule of building a ‘love culture,’ is to love what you do.”

That’s how Roy Spence, Chairman/Founder of GSD&M and Founder of The Purpose Institute kicked off his discussion on “Right Brain Leadership” at SXSW Interactive this weekend.

Although the session’s panel descriptor was about the brain, Spence and his co-presenter Mac Brown (founder of Spur Leadership and Founding Pastor of Lake Hills Church in Austin) spent the bulk of their time talking about the heart.

erinsxsw

They offered three rules for building what they call a “love culture” within your organization:

1)  Love what you do. Spence, who built GSD&M with four partners from the ground up over the past 45 years, encouraged audience members to “create an environment where people can play to their strengths.” He relayed a story from his childhood about his struggles with spelling. After numerous C grades, he scored an A- on a term paper when he was about 14 years old. His mother remarked that while he may not ever be a great speller, but she could see that he was a great writer. Her advice? Don’t waste your time trying to be average at something you’re bad at doing, but spend every second trying to great at what you’re good at doing.

2)   Hang out with people you love. “Love cultures are about people helping you, and you helping people,” said Spence. Brown added that part of loving people is accountability: “You have to operate alongside people with an established set of values. As a leader you have a greater responsibility to the group than the individual. You have to be willing to let someone go if you want to build a love culture. You have to do it for the health of everyone else. You love people when you hold them accountable.”

3) Love the impact you have on lives and communities. Brown said that any thriving organization has two things: Love and good deeds. Spence recited some of the purpose-based companies he and GSD&M have worked with over the years from Southwest Airlines to Whole Foods.

Their one common denominator? They’ve all cracked the code on creating environments where people can love what they do, be deliberate and intentional about their jobs and have license to literally change the world. To Spence and Brown, those are the ultimate markers of a “love culture.”

As the session came to a close, one woman asked Spence for his personal definition of a leader. He replied: “I’ve never called myself a leader, but I do know this…If you don’t have followers, you’re not a leader. Leaders build the ship, and they do so through love.”

Live at SXSW – Weekend Recap

The DGC team hit the ground running on Saturday morning at SXSWi with a quick stop at and an 11 a.m. deep-dive into how data will build high-performing humans. The panel featured New York Giants star wide receiver Victor Cruz and Equinox President Sarah Robb O’Hagan, joined by Michael Gervais and Mashable’s Haile Owens. We were fascinated with the panel’s discussion on how data can make even the highest achieving athletes more powerful on and off the field. One nugget we took away from the session was data and tools are great, but don’t forget about your body’s biggest source of information: your brain.

cruz After a quick selfie with the man of the hour, our team dispersed to other sessions before gathering to prep for DGC’s first-ever #SXSWi happy hour. The team set up shop at the JW Marriott to entertain clients and friends of DGC over margaritas, chips and guacamole, and the best darn jalapeño cornbread Austin has to offer.

 

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Day three saw us checking out some of the week’s best brand activations and experiences. We swung by Samsung’s Studio Experience, where our colleague, Sara Ajemian, made a DGC t-shirt in its design studio. While the A&E network offered up nightly stays at a faux Bates Motel to promote its series of the same name, neighboring station National Geographic took it to the extreme with a challenge to promote its new season of “Life Below Zero.” We dared to see if we had what it takes to Escape the Cold, as the promo was called, encouraged players to find clues to get out of the room in twenty minutes working with teams of 6. It was tough going – we didn’t find the key. Brands should take note for 2016 as this was an incredible way to bridge the gap between brand experience and user interaction. It tied to “life below zero” which is a show about people living in isolation in Alaska

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Other panels we checked out:

– Argonaut, an agency that’s part of Project Worldwide, had two executives on a panel: Robbie Whiting, Creative Technologist, and Garrick Schmitt, digital advisor,  who spoke to a packed house about “Malevolent Marketing.” Recap the conversation on Twitter with #letsbeevil.

– Deep Focus CMO Jamie Gutfreund cracked the code on Millennials at the Pandora Lounge, encouraging marketers to be smart about their consumer and audience. She was later joined on stage by Nana Menya, AVP of Investment Strategy of GE, whose talk on the mindset of music was equally intriguing.

– DDB’s Global Business Director Marina Zuber discussed art, tigers and an #EndangeredSong with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and on-the-rise band Portugal the Man.

Stay tuned for more!

SXSW 2013: The Inspiration of Beer + Technology

Beer + technology. Isn’t that what SXSW is all about? Anthony Stellato, the Head of Research and Prototyping at Arnold Worldwide knows it and his session Drinking Your Way To The Future walked his audience through what goes into making a talking, tweeting beer vending machine.

Arnie, Arnold’s resident beer dispenser, lives in the Boston headquarters. He’s a conversation-starter, perfect party guest and a key feature on tours of the agency. Arnie was born out of Arnold’s “Lab” thanks to their internal The Make Project initiative, that aims to set the stage for innovation. Arnie has earned himself a lot of media and as Stellato shared, people leave events at Arnold saying things like “You work for the best place in the world.”

Arnie in action with an Arnold staffer

Arnie in action with an Arnold staffer

There was an overwhelming sense of inspiration emanating from the audience. I don’t know that the audience members knew they could do this kind of work at an ad agency and many of the questions were talent-related. In fact, Arnie is really great for talent and not just because of the free beer. Ad shops are frequently competing for top digital talent and Arnie is a real, tangible example of the tech opportunities available at Arnold.

Stellato summed it up well by stating that if you don’t invest in hiring people whose job is to constantly be looking for new technology, you’ll fast become obsolete.

So what’s next for Arnie? Stellato would love to build voice recognition and a way to dispense Jack Daniel’s into Arnie 2.0. As Angela Wei, Arnold NY’s Chief Digital Officer so aptly stated, Surprising or not? the beer brewing part was harder than the tech part. Our thoughts: not surprising at all. As much as technology is close to our hearts, beer is closer for many, especially those at SXSW.

If you’re not tapped into the hardcore tech at SXSW, here are Stellato’s top picks for what’s hot:

  • Raspberry Pi, a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard.
  • Lead Motion, a motion controller that lets you control your computer with your hands without touching your computer.

SXSW 2013: Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Ethos on Accelerated Learning for Accelerated Times

I’ve long been a fan of Tim Ferriss, best-selling author of the 4-Hour Work Week and arguably one of the world’s most effective men and if you’re introduced by Hugh Forrest the Director of SXSWi, I’m thinking you’re kind of a big deal.

Ferriss’ tenacity is infectious and I find that he’s one of these speakers that sends you off to think hard about how much time you waste and what you could achieve if you found better, faster ways to do things.

Here are some takeouts from his Acquiring the Skill of Meta-Learning SXSW presentation:

  • His 4-Hour ethos is about accelerated learning for accelerated times. He applies a theory of DiSSS (Deconstruction, Selection, Sequence + Stakes – outlined further in “What You Can Learn From Author Tim Ferriss, the Four-Hour Marketer” by Ad Age’s Steve Rubel) to all of the goals he wants to achieve.
  • Central to his philosophy is questioning: What if I did the opposite of best practices? What if I did this task in reverse?
  • The worst time to learn a skill is when you really have to use it. Pressure is not your friend when picking up something new.
  • He cites the biggest impediment to learning a new skill is saying yes to too many things. Steve Jobs echoes this by way of his quote “Innovation is saying No to 1,000 things.”
  • Cute factoid: Before his first appearance at SXSW many years ago, Ferriss focused on max’ing his on-stage energy to keep audiences engaged by practicing in his friend’s garage in front of his three Chihuahuas. If his energy dropped, the Chihuahuas walked away (or worse, went to sleep). No-one can say this man isn’t dedicated to a high standard of quality.

I have found PR to be one of those professions where being effective gives you the thinking time to bring strategic value to your clients and most importantly to achieve a work/life balance that bears the gift of clarity (and sanity!). A 4-hour work week maybe not, but even adding a zero would land us PR folk in a pretty great place.

You should also check out Tim’s promo video for his new book, the 4-Hour Chef. Not only is it a slick piece of content, it synthesizes the 4-Hour Ethos, whether you’re looking to learn how to cook, learn a language or learn how to be.

SXSW 2013: Hey You—I mean, Hey Big Fish

South by Southwest is finally upon us. We at DGC know that conference attendees have a hearty appetite for the latest and most innovative social media technologies. In fact, many of the social apps we all know and love were first introduced at SXSWi, including GroupMe, a group messaging app that later sold to Skype; Foursquare, a location-based social network; and even Twitter, just to name a few.

heybigfish

 

If you’re not able to attend, there’s a new tool that can still put you at the heart of SXSWi’s social conversations without ever having to leave the comfort of your room. Say hello to Hey Big Fish, a new web app that helps identify the trends, people and topics that carry the most influence at a large event, like SXSWi.

Hey Big Fish helps users discover the hottest topics, trending news and field experts by analyzing Twitter activity, measuring influence based on peer engagement and showcasing a ranking of people, topics and content in a simple dashboard.

The app helps those at the conference  too by finding people with whom to interact and allowing them to discover the topics and influencers that matter most to them.

Here are some tips for how to best use Hey Big Fish:

  • Click here to access the mobile Web app: http://www.heybigfish.com
  • Use the platform to discover the most buzzed-about news in general or on specific topics of interest, such as Web design or big data.
  • The platform will help you learn who is the most influential on specific topics
  • Start a conversation with someone new
  • See where you rank in the SXSWi pond and track your rise as you engage

While Hey Big Fish is still in its infancy, we’re excited to see this app take off with a little earned media. Bottom line, use Hey Big Fish to join the conversation via any relevant SXSWi hashtag (#SXSW, #SXSWi, etc.) and track your influence—or your brand’s influence—at the event.

You can bet we’ll be tracking DGC’s influence! Will you? Let us know in the comments below.

Beyond the Panel: How to Leverage SXSW Speaking Opps for Maximum PR

Conference and festival season is well and truly upon us. Two marquee industry events, the SXSW and the 4As Transformation conference, kick-off this weekend and many of us are busy preparing for events, panels and presentations. Standing out amongst a sea of stimulating content isn’t easy but there are people who nail it time and time again. So what makes a winning formula?

Ad exec Cindy Gallop – whom you may recall from her brilliant Ted Talk “Make Love Not Porn,” — is a prime example of a savvy speaker who leverages her appearances for maximum PR value. Gallop has built a strong social network of followers who amplify the effort she puts into every speaking opportunity, ensuring her content reaches a much larger audience than the one sitting directly in front of her. She’s also very smart about her content; it’s provocative, unique and she delivers it in emotive, shareable quips that people can’t help but tweet — and in many cases, this social buzz begets editorial coverage.

If you have a speaking slot at SXSW (or anywhere else for that matter), you’ve got a fantastic opportunity to spread your message to attendees, as well as all your other stakeholders around the country.  Here are some tips to make the most of the opportunity:

  1. Reporters make great presentation guests, so invite them! A media blast alerting relevant reporters to your presentation is essential. Keep it short and sweet – these guys get inundated during SXSW, but even if they can’t make it to your presentation you’ve opened the dialogue for follow-up pitching and deeper dives into the topic.
  2. What’s the bigger picture? Ensure the content of your panel ladders up to a bigger picture PR strategy. You can publish POVs before and after your panel to start and maintain dialogue around your topic, through bylines placed in relevant media outlets or even on your own corporate blog.
  3. Invite everyone you meet. Much of the value of SXSW comes in the interactions with people on the fly – at parties, workshops or standing in line. Carrying something to give to the people you meet telling them about your presentation/panel works a treat, so consider securing some business cards that you can hand out in the days leading up to your session. A piece of card handed from human to human is still effective, even in this digital world.
  4. Slide branding 101. Each of your slides should have the event’s Twitter hashtag, Twitter handles of all presenters/panelists, and your company name/logo + handle. People will forget them if they’re only shown at the start – make it easy for them to promote you. Include a link to your presentation on the last slide.
  5. Social is your friend. Enlist some social support people (in the audience or even remotely) to live tweet and make your content shine throughout the presentation – both from their own handles or your corporate one. If you’re on a panel, remember that you’re competing for share of tweets so ensure your social support team is smart about what they tweet to get those valuable retweets. Visuals make great social content and keep your sound bites to just that, bites – snackable content is highly tweet-able.
  6. Keep your content snack-able. Whether you’re presenting or are part of a panel, think about little tweet-able bites, quotes and statistics you can share. If you’re in control of the slide content, include visuals that are clear and easy to understand, without the commentary. Many people take pictures of interesting slides (again, brand your slides clearly!) and tweet, Facebook or blog them so make sure yours stand out and are attributable to you.
  7. Get more mileage out of your panel through guest columns and blogs. Repurpose your content through POVs in media outlets or even your own corporate blog.  
  8. Use your slides as a marketing tool. Each of your slides should have the event’s Twitter hashtag, Twitter handles of all presenters/panelists, and your company name/logo + handle. Make your slides easily accessible (on SlideShare or a similar site) for maximum sharing. Have your social media person tweet the link to the presentation a couple of times – with the event hashtag – from your corporate handle during the presentation so your audience knows where to access it (you should see a bunch of retweets of the presentation too – good for attracting more followers to your handle and getting your content out there).
  9. Video the presentation. Find a friend with a flipcam and give them a front row seat. The end result might not be slick, but it can be chopped up and used for blog posts post-presentation. Your team can even create a series of quick-fire video captures of audience members before and after to see what they thought.
  10. Take pictures. Whether you post them on Instagram, Flickr, your blog, Pinterest or Facebook, pictures of you on stage will help give that personal behind-the-scenes feel to your post-presentation social content. Take a before picture with your co-presenter or fellow panelists (it’s likely you’ll be surrounded by people post-panel).

The Onion’s Baratunde Thurston, a rising star on the speaking circuit, is another executive to follow to inspire your PR strategy. He lays out a strong thought leadership foundation of relevant topics leading up to his presentations and  leverages social channels (both his and the event’s) to continue the dialogue afterwards. His keynote at last year’s SXSW, “How to Read the World,” captured a great deal of earned column space.

Whether you’re keynoting a conference or hosting a more intimate session, you can spread your message even further with the right strategy in place. Break a leg!

SXSW 2012: Brands, Buzz and Breakfast

DGC is still recovering from a great week at South By Southwest. Now that we’ve fully digested the panel sessions, brand activations and many fried carbs, we want to share some of our highlights:

Favorite Brand Activation:  Tie between Amex and Chevy

Why?  Both provided true value to even the most grizzled SXSW veterans. In Chevy’s case, its “Catch a Chevy” program gave those of us with barking dogs and a waning patience for expensive shuttle service a comfy ride to off-campus panels. Amex’s promotion showed us that simply having an Amex and a willingness to Tweet on behalf of brands spells big rewards for cardholders – like exclusive tickets to a Jay-Z show. While two lucky DGC-ers were in line to see Jay in a 2,000-person venue, we heard more than one person say, “I’m so glad I have an Amex.”  Now that’s brand loyalty.

Favorite Panel Takeaways:  Curation and tech start-up culture

With Pinterest’s skyrocketing popularity, it’s not surprising that curation was one of the week’s “buzziest” terms. In the publishing world, the debate was about how to give credit where it’s due, to both authors and the curators themselves.  For brands, the question is how to either become curators, or integrate seamlessly into a user’s curating experience. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in the future.

Also big this year was talk of how advertising should embrace a tech start-up culture – the Mark Zuckerberg “move fast and break things” philosophy. This means less and less of “the big idea” and many more small, nimble ideas. As ad exec Tim Leake put it: advertising in these times is no longer about telling a story, but inspiring one, listening to the conversation about your brands and saying – to borrow terms from Leake’s improv background – “yes…and” to that idea.

Favorite Food Truck: Tie between Whole Foods and Today Show

With all the foot traffic in downtown Austin,  the restaurants were almost as hard to get into as the packed early morning marketing sessions (and they were packed this year – most had a one-in, one-out policy). Branded Today Show trucks were serving up delicious breakfast from renowned chef Danny Meyer throughout the day and night.  And Whole Foods was in the right place, at the right time, with the right vegan chickpea sandwich when one DGC-er almost had a hunger meltdown.

Brunner Discusses Decision Making and the SXSW Experience

Brunner was in full-force on the ground at SXSW. DGC not only had the chance to talk with Executive Creative Director Rob Schapiro about his experience, but also we got a hold of an interesting commentary by strategist Michelle Latta on decision making. Take a look to read and hear more:

Ninety-five percent of our decision making is unconscious. At SXSW, I took a fascinating journey into the brain. A panel featuring A.K. Pradeep, Brian Clark, Derek Halpern and Roger Dooley took the room through the unconscious responses that people make on the internet. They discussed psychological studies that identified how we react to text, imagery, and the reasons we use social media. I’ll share three important learnings.

The first insight (but really no insight at all) was that the visual of an attractive woman “makes a man impatient and short-term oriented,” says Dooley. On a video-game website enrollment form three designs were tested among men. The first version was plain and had no women. The second design featured a headshot of a women and the third showed cleavage. The version with the female had 65% more enrollment than the first and the boobs attributed to a 95% increase in enrollment from version one. In fact, the title of this article may have just jettisoned the readership of my blog way over that of my colleagues. So this isn’t really news with Paris Hilton’s Carl’s Jr. car wash ad and the antics of GoDaddy, but it is a reminder, that at the end of the day, stereotypes aside, we are hardwired a certain way.

Read More

 

Below is Rob’s take on SXSW, plus some odds and ends about Brunner best practices and talent recruitment:

Ryan Partnership on Sponsorships like Jay-Z and AMEX at SXSW

One thing that SXSW and its sponsors did deliver this past few days were some amazing experiences. Thanks to AMEX, an early morning trip to the convention center and standing in a couple of lines, DGC‘s Meg McMahon and Megan McIlroy experienced one of the hottest sponsorships of SXSW Interactive – a night with Jay-Z. Not only do we have footage of Jay-Z singing Empire State of Mind, we also have Jorge Llauro and Ryan Wiedmann of HMI‘s Ryan Partnership sharing their thoughts on this strategic, on-brand partnership:

And here is the great Jay-Z in action:

 

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