September 20, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Wait Til Next Year

Wait Til Next Year

Conferences are something there is no shortage of in the realms of communications, public relations and marketing. Quite often, it’s not a matter of finding a good one, but rather narrowing your selection down to meet your budget. So, with IABC, PRSA and AMA providing their share, in addition to the folks like Ragan and Melcrum, why would a Media Bullseye reader want to put a technology conference like SXSW Interactive on their schedule?
Sure you’ve heard the tales of great after-parties, and possibly seen it referred to as “Spring Break for Geeks”. Many people attend in hopes of meeting the “Internet Famous” or becoming famous themselves. There’s a strange language heard around the halls where Ruby isn’t a precious gem and Ajax is not a cleaning product. What could any of that have to do with advancing your career in the profession you’ve chosen?
The short answer is because online communication and new media is here, and it’s infiltrating all the traditional means you’ve used in the past to communicate with your audiences. You can stay on top of trends and continue to move your career and your profession forward, or you can lag behind and be left in the curmudgeon’s corner.
Who am I to say such cruel things? I’m a trained print journalist (from the days before digital typesetting), an experienced employee communications and public relations professional, and I currently find myself responsible for the front page (among others) of a web site that gets more than 32 million visits a week. Throughout my career, it’s often been my personal passion for new technology that has brought me advancement.
I’m not alone. Thought leaders like [Neville Hobson](http://www.nevillehobson.com/about/) and [Shel Holtz](http://blog.holtz.com/index.php/weblog/about/) have been in the middle of this intersection of communication and technology for years. And while I’ve listened and learned from them, I’d never really immersed myself in it all until the past couple of years. So, it was with great excitement that I prepared to attend my second SXSW Interactive this month.
Did I take away the knowledge of some fantastic new tool like when I learned of Twitter the year before? No, not this time. I did, however, learn more about how video games and virtual worlds are merging ever closer together and becoming a more pervasive part of our culture. Before you know it, your employees and customers will think it quite odd that they can’t attend orientation or test-drive your product in 3D. Are you standing back shaking your head at the thought of it all and dismissing it as simply play? Futurologists [predict](http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7258105.stm) that such play is how we will do most of learning before too long.
And, while I may never actually build a web application myself, the panel on “Creative Collaboration: Building Web Apps Together” gave me new insight on how a small team can accomplish big things in a short time span. That’s something I’m applying directly to my latest project as I assemble a nimble team with a variety of skills to approach a project in a way that is totally different from our typical process.
Many of the panelists at “Self Replicating Awesomeness: The Marketing of No Marketing” tried really hard to distinguish themselves as not being marketers. But, believe me, they’re after your marketing job. Their prostelizing really all boiled down to remembering that good customer service or “how to win friends” theories are at the core of all good marketing and communications programs. You can learn to speak their language and become a part of the new social media communities, or you can wait for your boss to tell you they’ve been hired to consult for your company.
So, don’t be scared by the geek speak. Don’t worry if you don’t know anyone else who’s going. Set aside some budget to attend next year’s SXSW Interactive and open your mind and your career up to the possibilities. SXSW Interactive 2009 is scheduled for March 13-17, 2009.
*Laura (Pevehouse) Thomas has worked in and around the Dell family for more than seven years, primarily in the areas of corporate communications, employee communications, public relations, community affairs, branding and online communication. She also assisted with the creation of Direct2Dell, and oversees web feeds and podcasts on Dell.com. In her spare time she led Dell into the metaverse with the creation of Dell Island in Second Life.*

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