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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.

All agog for Little Monsters?

https://i0.wp.com/images.wikia.com/ladygaga/images/e/e7/MonsterClaw.pngAnnouncing the launch of a new social network in the days following Facebook’s intention to go public, is like publicizing attendance to a non-NFL football game in the days following the Super Bowl.

Why should anyone care? As marketing communications professionals know too well, that depends on content + context.  If the non-NFL “event” was a pickup game that included Eli Manning and Tom Brady, it would get some significant buzz and interest, but even as an annual event, would hardly be any threat to the advertising and pop-culture bonanza known as the Super Bowl.

That’s the prism through which we are looking at this week’s news of Lady Gaga’s impending launch of a social network, Little Monsters,  built around her fan base and predicted to resemble the new social media “it girl” that is Pinterest.

True, Lady Gaga has logged some impressive online milestones: 19 million Twitter followers and the first performer to reach 1 billion YouTube views of her videos. But 19 million is a far cry from 850 million and counting. With this in mind, we look forward to seeing how Gaga’s people will make this initiative come to life and continue to keep it fresh for her Little Monsters.

Tech-Talk: Pinterest and PR

If you haven’t heard of Pinterest yet, you need to get up to speed fast. The social network, termed “scrapbooking on the web” is sweeping the Internet and recently broke into the top 10 most popular social networks right behind Yelp, according to an Experian Hitwise report.

Pinterest is an online pinboard that allows users to cluster things they find on the web, be it pictures, articles, videos, websites, etc., into various categories and share them with others. You’re ultimately becoming a curator of information. The site says “you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.”

The site had over 11 million visits in December, illustrating that consumers are clearly taking to it. With so many consumers flocking to one place, Pinterest has created a new, innovative outlet for brands and companies to get involved in social media.

As PR professionals, it’s our job to be on top of what’s next in tech so that we can pass info on to our clients and, of course, consider it for planning purposes.  Pinterest opens up a whole new world of possibilities for PR and marketing.  Here’s DGC’s list of the top 4 ways to use Pinterest in PR.

  • Pinterest is the perfect avenue to illustrate a company’s culture by making a profile that highlights your brand’s personality. Maybe your CEO has a passion for knitting, he/she can pin interesting articles, tools, books and even post pictures of things they’re creating, to ultimately connect deeper with consumers.
  • High site traffic makes a Pinterest page great for product launches and announcements. And since it allows you to post and share images easily with real time comments, it’s the perfect place to showcase news. But, be creative in how you share. Pinterest has a rule against being too self-promotional.
  • Trying to get more interaction with consumers? Create contests. Whether you’re a beverage company asking clients to pin their favorite drink or a fashion designer asking followers to pin their own designs, Pinterest creates an easy, visually intriguing way for you to hold contests and learn more about your followers.
  • Why not provide a pin for your thoughts? Use your page to publicize your thought leadership initiatives, by pinning images that showcase links to your articles, coverage or video content.

For more information on how to get started on Pinterest, check out this how to guide on Mashable. Or for a more in-depth look at how other brands are using Pinterest, check out this great list on American Express Open Forum.

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