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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.



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:
  • 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!

February’s New York Tech Meetup: The Players and The Stayers…

I would run out of fingers if I tried to count the New York Tech Meetups I’ve attended but last night’s event was a little different. For one thing, I sat for the first time at a simulcast at New Work City, a co-working space, rather than the main event at the NYU Skirball Center. Secondly, they started the night by bringing to the stage some tried and true New York startups.

For those that haven’t been before, the New York Tech Meetup (NYTM) usually runs to a pretty standard format – two hours of on-stage demos from startups. No Powerpoint, no conceptual ideas, just things that entrepreneurs have actually made and launched (some products just that day). Among them: apps, websites, software products and robots. Rarely do you see big, established brands with polished performances. It’s scrappy, and that’s what makes it so cool.

Having said that, it was very cool to see the more refined “demos” from three established New York-based startups as they returned to the same stage some of them originally launched on. Here’s my quick overview of what How About We, and are up to now…


How About We: Co-CEOs Brian and Aaron launched How About We two and a half years ago at the NYTM. They now employ 45 people in their Brooklyn HQ with the shared goal of helping people fall in love by taking online dating offline.

They used last night’s forum not just to give an update, but to announce the next rendition of How About We which also caters to dating couples. The 1,000 couples already playing with it during the beta period have been exposed to discounts, date gifting and a concierge service to help keep their romance spark alive and now it’s live for everyone to use.

How About We is a fabulous New York startup success story and it’s great to see this outfit grow. The company has found a niche in a cluttered dating marketplace with a well-defined brand and they certainly used PR to help them along. I remember reading about them just after they launched and they’ve stayed well on my radar since, through regular appearances in earned media. Another darling of the New York tech community,, got its start not just through NYTM exposure, but also through their earlier selection as team HomeField in the NY TechStars incubator program; a program that is featured on BloombergTV.

Full disclosure: I’m not a big consumer of online video and Shelby has stayed on my radar mainly due to their presence in earned media and an impressive brand tone consistency. I read some articles in July last year about the difficult decision Shelby made to shut down their service to allow them to rebuild. Not only was the decision bold (and their CEO Reece Pacheco was publicly praised for this) but the company’s use of PR was gutsy too.

They used earned media to amplify their reasoning and from last night’s display, it certainly seems like it worked. Reece and his team’s tenacity and enthusiasm are bang-on brand for Shelby and it has consistently shined through in their press, their social channels and in this case a web TV show, right from day one. Big props.

catchafire logo

Catchafire: Self-proclaimed “How About We for volunteering,” what’s not to love about Catchafire? Not all of us are made for food distribution  and we can’t all attend volunteer efforts in-person. Catchafire helps non-profits define what they need and identify who they need to make it happen and that’s where the matchmaking comes in.

Catchafire members detail their skills – be it coding, web design or copywriting – and the site algorithm matches them to prospective non-profits that need those specific skills. It’s inspiring to see these guys up on stage so passionate about what they’re accomplishing.

In the leadup to SXSWi where the nation’s hottest startups, agencies and brands congregate in Austin, what strikes me about these three startups in particular is the dedication they have to building their respective brands. Not only do they believe in what they’re doing, but they appreciate that staying power can be found through engaging their community and working with earned media, alongside solid product innovation.

The NYTM is streamed live (and taped). You can check it out the recording here: February 2013 New York Tech Meetup.

Hit Board Feature Friday – PanelPicker for SXSW Interactive 2013 in Austin is here!

Our Friday Feature usually recaps some of our clients’ best media coverage of the previous week. This week, we want to draw attention to the good work our clients are planning at SXSW Interactive. In other words, the second most important voting event of 2012 is upon us: the SXSW PanelPicker 2013!

A number of our clients are vying for a spot on the stage at SXSW Interactive 2013, and even our very own DGC executive team has thrown their hats into the ring with two panel ideas.

The SXSW Festival has increasingly become one of the most popular events of the year among the advertising, music and film industries. The event uses a crowd-sourced format to populate the speaker sessions, along with input from the event’s advisory board and SXSW staff.

The process for voting is simple. First, you have to sign up for a SXSW account, if you don’t already have one. After you’ve signed up, search/vote for any and all of your favorite panel ideas by hitting “thumbs up!” Voting closes August 31 at 11:59pm CT. Take a look below at a roundup of a number of great sessions you definitely don’t want to miss.

DGC – Building Buzz for Your Company via PR & Social

In this session, learn the basic steps to create buzz among your target audience. Hear practical and actionable guidelines from Sam DiGennaro, communications strategist and founder of DiGennaro Communications, the leading PR agency serving the advertising, media, marketing and entertainment spaces. Sam has been an integral force in managing the public image and strategic messaging of well-known C-suites, in addition to serving as counselor to many independent companies on the road to acquisition.
Learn how to use PR & social media to get news coverage in today’s complex media marketplace, align PR strategy with new-biz goals, raise an exec’s profile, recruit A-list talent & establish category expertise.

DGC – How Your Personal Brand Makes Your Company Shine

It is critical today for business leaders to build and manage their personal brands. A CEO’s brand can add incredible value to an organization as a whole. In this age of social media and self-published content, smart business execs must position themselves as thought leaders for industry “street cred” and to raise their companies’ profiles. In this session, former Forbes Executive Editor Melanie Wells explains the value of developing a strong personal brand and shares “inside” tips on how to craft a compelling one.

MEC – Is Big Still Beautiful?

Can and how do big agencies and small agencies partner with start-ups effectively?

In today’s changing landscape, big and small tech and media companies equally have an opportunity to partner with big name brands to create transformative marketing programs for consumers and clients – but is that really true? Is that really happening?

RAPP – E-tymology. How Digital Decimated the Dictionary

OMG. OMG is an official word. Mankini is in the Oxford English Dictionary. FOMO, tablet, and occupy have been nominated for Word of the Year. In this session, we explore the dramatic changes in language over the last decade, unprecedented in human history. And we ask educators, anthropologists and linguists: WTF?

RAPP – Graphic Design: Data Is The New Vector

Data has become the new fodder for design. As we become a more mobile focused on the go consumer of data, interface design is taking a back seat to data design. My discussion will focus on how to design around data, for data and with data as a means to influence interface design. Harnessing the power of data and being creative with the types of data that is available can be one of the most creative endeavors one can undertake. Designers now must think beyond just the aesthetic and move into the realm of big data and creative ways to design with it.

Organic –The Endless Aisle

The future of retail lies in the intersection of online, mobile and in-store behaviors and experiences — what we call “the endless aisle.” Think real-world purchase experiences that build off real-time data and stores that know you. Future retailers will suggest products that may best fit personal styles, or even help navigate through stores better. Consumers have become more educated than ever before, with the ability to check prices on the fly. This session will give a glimpse into the store of the future, and spell out the big opportunity for brands and emerging technologies in the retail space.

Organic – Kiss Cash Goodbye

Rumors of cash’s death are very real. Consumers have made clear their interest in going cashless — with major marketers beginning to reap the rewards. But there are still barriers to entry. The mobile payment space is highly fragmented and consumer trust in new technologies must still be established. This panel will give an overview of the mobile payment landscape –from major players to emerging companies — and insights about consumers’ behavior around mobile payment. It will outline the big opportunity for brands in mobile payments, and show how going cashless will go from mere concept to reality.

Wing – El Nuevo Gringo: Quantifying the Latino Influence

Latino influence on American culture is hard to miss. From food to fashion to entertainment, Americans are embracing Latino culture like never before. But evidence of that influence has always been solely anecdotal — until now. In this panel, Wing and Experian Simmons will reveal the results of a first-ever study quantifying this phenomenon, The Latino Influence Project. Panelists will demonstrate how non-Hispanics are taking on more and more traditionally Hispanic attitudes and behavior when it comes to food, travel, technology use, and media consumption. Attendees will walk away with stats about the changing consumer landscape and ideas for engaging Hispanic and non-Hispanic audiences alike.

Hyper Marketing Inc. – Mind Space, Digital Space, Shelf Space

Connecting with your audience is one part art, one part science. It begins with understanding your customers’ behavior (which reflects their needs and wants), sparking consideration for your product or service, and then converting that progression from mind space to digital space to shelf space to a sale and ultimately back again. That’s what it takes for marketers to win today.

Carbone Smolan – Video That Connects

No matter the product you’re launching or service you’re selling, it’s your goal to spark the interest of customers and inspire action. You need to connect with your audience, whether its buyers, recruits, internal teams or investors. What’s the best way to do this? Storytelling through video.

Cole & Weber – Project Butterfly: Escaping the Net to Be Sociable

Just being in social media and accumulating “likes” doesn’t make brands sociable.
So we set out to understand how sociable people interact in the real world, and apply that learning to help brands behave differently. Project Butterfly is a multi-city, online and offline project that merges social psychology, digital anthropology and cutting edge ethnography to dissect the DNA of highly sociable people, how they behave both on and offline, and how they differ from “hyperconnectors” – people who are extremely active on social media.

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:

Nature Valley makes digital debut at SXSW Mashable party

Sunday night was the highly anticipated Mashable SXSW party at a giant pool hall/bar in downtown Austin called Buffalo Billiards. As throngs of party-goers waited outside, we crept in to check out the Nature Valley Trail View

display, say hi to the creative folks at McCann who came up with it, and enjoy some “Kow-a-bunga” (an energy tea that frankly, can stay in Texas).

Nature Valley, one of the main sponsors of the event, with their team at McCann recently launched “Trail View,” a website that allows you to explore some of America’s iconic natural parks from the comfort of your computer. Think Google street view, but over miles of hiking trails in Yellowstone, the Smoky Mountains and the Grand Canyon. The display at the Mashable party featured interactive big screen TVs where guest could explore the trails, as well as watch some of the behind-the-scenes footage of the McCann teams hiking through the great outdoors with all their cameras and equipment. The whole project took almost three months to film—not a typical assignment for a bunch of ad folks!

Nature Valley’s first big foray into the digital space is true to the brand, focusing on preserving nature while using cutting-edge technology to capture it authentically. The display had many people taking a break from beers and billiards to wander over and see what the beautiful landscapes were all about.  Congrats McCann on a successful launch!


COO Claus Rodgaard at Vertic Talks SXSW 2012

COO Claus Rodgaard at Vertic, digital agency in Copenhagen, New York and Singapore, took time out of his day to speak with DGC about his experience at SXSW Interactive. Did you know that the event has a “how to” panel to get you started on the right foot? Well, it does. So in addition to letting us in on this little secret behind the scenes, Claus shared some event highlights and a few more tricks for finding the best panels (which we admit takes a special talent).

You’ll have to excuse the noise in the background…People were all abuzz before the AMEX Jay-Z concert taking place next door.

The New Black? How Digital Ed Is Everything

Allison Kent-Smith, Director of Digital Development at Goodby, Silverstein and Partners

Day #3 got off to an early start (after a not so early night!) as we headed to see Goodby’s own Allison Kent-Smith, Director of Digital Development and resident educational evangelist for her panel, The New Black? How Digital Ed Is Everything. She was joined by Glenn Cole of 72andSunny, Matthew Brimer of the General Assembly and Giselle Schmitz of Facebook to discuss the importance of education in the advertising and marketing industries. Moderated by Lori Kent, the panelist shared their perspectives on the need to increase education and digital training as the industry evolves.

Matthew Brimer stated the importance of having a well-rounded skill set, pointing out the internet isn’t new and it’s surprising more people aren’t more familiar with using it effectively. Comparing the internet to a much older invention—electricity—he stated, “imagine if you had an electricity department at your company. Or said, I’m going to start a company, and we’re going to use electricity.” The internet has become almost as commonplace place as electricity, and there is a clear value in teaching your employees how to master it.

Digital education doesn’t just increase the employee’s value; it also benefits the company or agency as a whole. Implementing program that ups the level of talent within an agency allows it to better serve their clients. Goodby’s Ed Program (developed by Allison) takes it a step further by offering courses outside the agency to clients making them a more valuable partner and resource, which in turn can lead of business growth and positive PR—and who doesn’t like positive PR?

For more from Allison, you can check out her Fast Company article:  We’re All Technologists Now: 6 Steps To Retraining And Reinventing Your Creative Talent.

We caught up with Allison and moderator Lori Kent after the panel for a few more insights on the importance of Digital Ed, which you can view here as well:



When in Austin…

A group of DGCers is heading to Austin, TX, for SXSW Interactive again this year (March 9-13), and since they are now “experienced” attendees, we asked them what people should know to get the most they can from the experience, which seems to get more overwhelming each year.

Tips for attending: 

  • Don’t be afraid to approach speakers after attending their sessions. It’s all about networking—go shake hands!
  • Pace yourself. There is a LOT to see and do.  Study the schedules (panels as well as parties) and prioritize to make the most of your experience.
  • Missed the daily keynote because you were busy networking? Check it out online at
  • Attend parties. There are many that are free and open to anyone with a badge (for a guide click here: Try to attend:
    • The Mix at Six presented by Can We Network (3/9, 6pm)
    • The Interactive Opening Party presented by frog design and Microsoft (3/10, 8pm)
    • Mashable SXSWi House 2012 (3/11, 9pm)

Despite the high-tech atmosphere, it’s a good idea to take lots of business cards with you. Yes, the print kind. Maybe  Freshbooks and Shoeboxed will collaborate again as they did last year. This article tells how their brilliant promotion helped attendees organize all those wonderful new contacts people made at SXSW.

And check back here at The Hit Board which will be updated regularly by the on-site DGC team with trends, attendee insights and more.

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