It’s that time. By now you’ve probably pulled together some ideas and strategies for getting the most return for your effort (& investment) from SXSW. Whether you’re hosting a branded event, session, or heading out as an attendee, you just need the right game plan.

Because the challenge is real.

To recap, 2016 SXSW statistics reveal there were 70,000 trade show, exhibit and party attendees with nearly 38,000 participants for SXSW Interactive alone (including 82 foreign countries) of which 3,093 were speakers at nearly 1400 sessions.

So how can you stand out? With 200K to 300K pieces of news being published and vying for our attention daily, a big key to overcoming limitations like lack of visibility, small startup budgets and a crowded noisy event is planning and giving yourself enough time to build momentum and capture your share of voice with a constant stream of relevant news and content.

Phase I is about getting ahead of the curve and choosing the ideal combination of ingredients that brings your broader plan to life positioning you as the go-to guru in your industry. Using this game plan to execute a consistent cadence of created content, press outreach and social interaction, is what helps level the playing field and increase visibility and impact.

Winning @ SXSW - PHASE 1 - CONDITION THE MARKETPLACE

About 2 months out: It’s important to embrace the idea of conditioning the marketplace to create the most optimal environment and opportunity for your expertise to shine. It needs to be done far enough in advance (in this case, weeks vs. days) to give you enough time to build a critical mass of earned and owned media interest leading up to and throughout SXSW.

This process creates the foundation of trust, authenticity and visibility needed to make it possible for you to breakthrough and have an impact.

Key considerations to begin to address and decide on around two months before SXSW include:

Map a timeline. Start with the SXSW event date, note key dates and begin to reverse engineer your vision of success so you can start to see how much time there actually is versus what you need to get done. Fill it in as you determine which pieces you need vs. want to include.

Brainstorm content ideas based on your priorities. Is it issues surrounding a product or service you’re launching later in the year? Or maybe it’s a deeper dive into the signature expertise you want to be known for? And so on.

Decide on a content strategy and channels. Decide on the channels and format that make the most sense for your content, audience and goals. Is it a blog or video series, etc., Tip of the Day Tweets, a Slideshare presentation, or another format relevant to the people you want to reach.

Plan content creation and publication timelines. A cadence of blog posts or a video series has different timing than press announcements or daily tips when it comes to both the investment of time and resources required to create each one, not to mention publication and amplification timing.

Plan your fame. When it comes to press coverage, you need to know what you’re announcing with enough time in advance to make it happen. Getting on a reporter’s radar early is important not only to be one of the first to plant seeds about your SXSW story idea but also to allow for ideas to be pitched to editors and get them approved.

Start feeling out who is assigned to SXSW (google articles from last year, etc.) and what they might be interested in around 4 to 6 weeks before the event. Let them know you’re available now and throughout the event for comment and what you can talk about.

Compile or update your lists. This should include lists of SXSW influencers, reporters and other digital tastemakers, plus event and niche hashtags, as well as a shortlist of folks you’d like to meet up with face-to-face during the event.

What you want to do with these lists are find the conversations, follow them, and plan to interact at the appropriate moments.

Always be inviting. Once you’ve put together your lists of influencers, industry tastemakers and reporters, begin reaching out to determine who’s attending and follow up by suggesting meeting for coffee, breakfast or drinks based on responses about a month in advance. Confirm with calendar invites. By two weeks out, many of the most sought after schedules are booked leaving only serendipity and ambush as your primary mingling options.

Phase one is where you want to invest quality focused time because it sets you up for success as your timeline progresses through to Phase two, three and a post-event lessons learned wrap-up. The better prepared up are the greater the leverage and the more ROI you’ll enjoy.

Many of our current clients are also looking at raising their profile through major industry events, parties or unique ideas. We can help you brainstorm new concepts and support these activities, as they can offer great exposure – not just with reporters, but analysts, end users and other influencers as well.

If you’d like to discuss how we can help you get the most out of major conferences in the future, then please do Contact Us.

Finally, you can take our Phase 1 game plan with you or keep it on your smartphone for easy reference or for sharing with your network - DOWNLOAD HERE.