SXSWi Day Two (Saturday, March 12),
Olgivy deserves some credit for visually capturing session content in their notes—great idea and nice analog connection to the digital world. They have artists attending certain sessions capturing points by drawing out the discussion and dialog arc on large white boards as the conversation happens. It’s hard enough for me to take notes in a more traditional way and keep up with the quick conversation—hats off to the artists for their talents and Olgivy for bringing it to life. You can get a sense of the idea at ogilvynotes.com.
FOUR SESSIONS/FOUR+ MOMENTS
1) Brave New World: Debating Brands’ Role as Publishers
This was a lively discussion moderated by NPR’s Tom Ashbrook, with the real point of tension being the fundamental comparison of brand produced content with more traditional journalism and the ability to separate ostensibly objective journalism from marketing content. Ashbrook brought up an interesting point when he questioned whether the democratization of content was giving way to the corporatization of content. Obviously, simply relying on social media to help ferret out bias has some issues and the time required for average people to sort it all out could be overwhelming, but Gary Kim (Carrier Evolution) had a nice summary thought: our nation essentially rests on the idea that normal people can run an entire country—why should media be any different?
2) Intrigue Me: Writing Compelling Content
Stephanie Hay has her act together. A quick, nicely organized, well-thought out and timely presentation for communicators. It was all such good, concise content that it’s hard to pick one moment that stands out, but I’ll share one that has particular resonance. We are in a world where transmedia is the norm—people expect to get content from different sources and through multiple platforms. Hay suggested that the whole story is told across media (what imc² might refer to as the ecosystem) so writers and creators should not think of any one piece of content as existing in isolation. As someone who occasionally has to write for a living, this means not forcing everything into one place and relying on other appropriate channels and media to tell the entire story.
3) Brand Journalism: The Rise of Non-Fiction Advertising
Moderated by AdAge columnist and NPR, On the Media co-host, Bob Garfield, this was by far the most fun panel conversation attended yet. As you can imagine, there was plenty of sharp stick eye-poking at the very premise of “brand journalism” and “non-fiction advertising” but the conversation took some interesting turns. Shiv Singh (PepsiCo) had some enlightening thoughts about brand trust and leveraging the social platform to help brands deepen consumer relationships. A question arose around philosophical approaches to leveraging the social channel for brand storytelling versus fostering conversation. Both my notes and memory fail as to who made the comment, but someone offered the metaphor of a political candidate: the candidate knows the essential points he or she wants to make but the conversation is driven by the news of the day.
4) One Story, Many Angles
This panel looked at the multi-platform pitch—the story that lives across media and how content creators should look at developing appropriate ecosystems for their ideas. Nathan Coyle (CAA) defined the emerging transmedia content approach as anything that disrupts liner storytelling, allowing different results. I think that’s an easy concept for people to get their heads around and I liked John Chu’s take on wanting to maintain control over the story as opposed to simply ceding ownership to the masses. As a storyteller, Chu likened his storytelling approach to Disney’s Haunted Mansion (one of my favorite all-time rides, FYI). Thinking along the lines of a guided tour where he gets to play magician. Sure you’re on this structured journey, but it’s ultimately successful by how people react to and engage in story.
Only one more day at SXSW for me–a partial day–as I’m off to the mountains of New Mexico. Look for a recap of my two Sunday sessions tomorrow.