5 Tips To Avoid SXSW PR Disasters For Your Brand

SXSW 2014

As the “spring break for marketers” commences in Austin this weekend, we know there will be one scandalum which will set tongues wagging. If this is your first time attending the event (or any event, really), we would like to offer up our best advice for avoiding a SXSW PR disaster and surviving the event.

  • Lots of eyes are on Austin. Perhaps not your parent’s eyes, but investors, photographers, bloggers, and the entire tech community is paying attention to Austin until March 16th. Consider what you say and what you do before you do it outside your brain. One joke can do a lot of damage.
  • Those listed above aren’t the only ones paying attention. With speakers like Edward Snowden, Adam Savage and Chelsea Clinton, top tier media will have their eyes on the event to see what comes of their participation and SXSW overall. The media is watching, behave accordingly in alignment with your brand’s values.
  • Act as if your every moment is being recorded, because it probably is. We hate to go all Big Brother on you, but cameras are everywhere. Hotel lobbies, elevators, event places, street lights, security cameras on buildings. (And let’s not forget Google Glass.) Having a drink too many and stumbling over drunk has a very high chance of being captured by someone or something. Are you ready to be that YouTube star?
  • Treat SXSW like it’s a casino. Attendees regularly lose track of time and people around them. That combined with the readily availability of alcohol creates an environment in which bad decisions are made and too much information is shared. Have fun, but leave any humblebrags containing confidential company information at home. The last thing you want is to share that type of info with someone you barely know and just met — who could then proceed to tell everyone they know.
  • Related tip: Enable the “find my mobile” features (with remote wipe options turned on) on your phone before you leave. Not everyone at SXSW is a friend or colleague. This event is ripe for industrial/corporate espionage. Especially with thousands of media, influencers, corporate executives, and more attending. If you’ve got access to anything sensitive on your phone, be able to wipe it if you lose it or it’s stolen.

We hope you have a great deal of fun this year in Austin. Be cautious about how you approach the event so it doesn’t end in heartache, harm to your brand or harm to your employer’s brand. It only takes a moment to cause lasting harm.

Chel Wolverton
Senior Marketing Analyst


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