3 PR lessons from SXSW

What can public relations teams learn about the industry from a few thousand tech, music and film enthusiasts at Austin’s interactive event? Lots, it turns out.

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I’m the COO and managing director of a communications firm in real estate, public affairs, energy, transportation, higher education and non-profits. I was never able to justify taking the advice of associates and friends to attend the South by Southwest Interactive Festival. I couldn’t see how hobnobbing with startups and techies would benefit our firm or clients.

However, I grew more and more curious about SXSW.and finally booked a ticket and headed down to Austin. Days before my trip, SXSW announced that President Obama would be its keynote speaker. Clearly, this music festival had grown—and might just well be worth my time and energy.

Every minute of the weekend was jam-packed with meetings, panels, introductions, dinners, conversations, coffees and meetups. It far exceeded my every expectation.

Here are three important takeaways for PR pros from this year’s festival:

1. The PR industry and media landscape change too quickly to play catch-up. We must aggressively get ahead of both.

We tell clients to consider us their backroom communications strategists. We want to help them make their most important business decisions.

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