#SXSW Interactive? There's an app for that; WUWH IRL*
The annual gathering here in Austin, Texas that is South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi, if you must) is now in full swing. Since it's in our house, yours truly, as well as LP&P senior account representative Linsey Krauss, are covering the event, and we'll post dispatches in the coming days, in addition to live tweets via our Twitter channel, @LPP_PR.
While there's no specific PR track per se at SXSWi, there's been plenty of interesting panel discussions, debates, Twitter tugs-of-war, hallway smack downs and the like on a multitude of relevant communications trends and issues. Look for upcoming and expanded posts here in the coming days that will do justice to what we're experiencing, observing and overhearing in both the breakouts and coffee lines. Expect posts on topics including the growing disdain for relying on PR for providing sources to reporters(!); why the war of words between traditional journalists and new era bloggers may lead to both parties battling it out in the octagon of death; and how to help convince companies and clients that their voice can be heard via 3rd party management of social media even if they don't write every tweet and post themselves (that latter topic will be a doozie when discussed this AM given the recent social media blunders on behalf of Chrysler and Sony).
But first, some context.
What started humbly as a celebration of the indie music scene that makes Austin the self-proclaimed "live music capital of the world", SXSW launched in 1987 by the local alternative "city paper", the Austin Chronicle. In 1994, SXSW added a conference track for film and other media, called the "SXSW Film and Multimedia Conference", which later split into two separate events in 1995. SXSW Multimedia was then renamed "SXSW Interactive" in 1999.
As you can imagine, Austin is now filled with no end of digerati and their pads, pods and phones, sucking up all the mobile bandwidth our spectrum can deliver. But a yippie ki yay to the good people of AT&T, who had the foresight to bring some COWS to Austin. That's portable Cell Sites on Wheels, not longhorns. It's easy to tell COWS from cows - look for the logo.
This year's festivities kicked off on Friday, and, according to MG Siegler at TechCrunch, Apple already "won" SXSWi before the event began by opening a popup store to hawk the new iPad 2. Of course, the Apple popup is directly across Congress Street from our Austin office, and it was one of the best kept secrets (many Austinites saw the brown paper windows and thought it was another trendy restaurant or music club that would be gone in six months).
Well, it really was a shrewed PR and marketing move from our friends in Cupertino. Apple knows its audience, and with little fanfare, the word of the store opening spread like fleas at a dog show. The opportunity to be the first to score the iPad 2 created a line around the block this town hasn't seen since the Debbie Gibson/Tiffany tour came to town. There's been no end to the media and digital coverage - over 3,000 articles and posts to date, plus broadcast coverage.
But beyond the anticipated run on the device, there's actually been some great commentary on the key feature that has been lost in the launch hype -- a feature that I wouldn't be surprised is a a game changer for consumer devices going forward. The new iPad 2 features a "refrigerator-like" cover that literally turns the unit on and off instantly when opened. The New York Times Bits blog editor Nick Bilton and his collegue Miguel Helft both ran insightful stories on this, and one of the main buzz topics in the hallways of the SXSWi conference is - get this - how to now write apps that takes advantage of the insta-on feature.
If you're in Austin for SXSWi, we'd like to hear from you about your experiences, so please post a comment. And if you are just following the festivities at home via the abundance of social media chatter and media coverage, let's us know what's caught your eye and attention via comments, too.
*Wish You Were Here In Real Life