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Walker Sands at SXSW: Our Favorite Moments and Key Takeaways

Kaitlin Mansour

Last month, over 30,000 people attended South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive to check out the latest and greatest technology from some of the world’s top brands. Walker Sands was among that crowd, with boots on the ground to explore the booming tech industry and apply it to our work in B2B tech PR. Featuring countless panels, keynotes and exhibitors, this year’s SXSW offered a variety of valuable lessons and exposure to some emerging trends. But what did we find the most impressive and memorable? Aiming to ensure our clients keep pace with the rapidly evolving tech industry, we’ve outlined the following takeaways.

Virtual Reality - If SXSW taught me anything, it’s that virtual reality is definitely not going away. Nowhere near a new technology, VR has existed in one way or another for decades. But with the arrival of consumer-facing virtual reality hardware, like Oculus Rift and Sony’s Playstation VR, we’re closer to critical mass than ever before.

Image Source: Walker Sands Instagram
Account Executive Kaitlin Mansour paints walls via a virtual reality experience at SXSW 2016.

This was reflected at South By. Nearly every sponsored event, from Samsung to McDonald’s, boasted VR experiences for anyone with a badge. We rode a virtual rollercoaster and painted bleak white walls with virtual paint guns. Definitely fun experiences – but will virtual reality ever effectively make its way into the enterprise and affect real change on the way we work?  Only time will tell, but if SXSW is any indicator, consumers are ready for the next crop of innovative, immersive, collaboration solutions.

-Kaitlin Mansour, Account Executive

“Sucking Less When Presenting Creative”- This was one of my favorite and most applicable sessions I saw at SXSW. Here are some of the takeaways from the session that I’ve found helpful.

Before the presentation:

  • Three is the magic number of options you should present. Two or less options will make the client feel forced into a decision, and four or more will overwhelm them.
  • Name the comps. Instead of calling different options “option 1” and “option 2,” give each design a name. It will help the client remember which comp was which and give them a theme to connect to.
  • Get the home field advantage. It’s best to present creative in person at your office. You and your team will feel more comfortable in your own space, and the client will be more inclined to take your advice.

During the presentation:

  • Bridge your work. Start the presentation by reminding the client the steps you have taken to get to this point. It will get you on the same page and set the meeting up for success.
  • Recommend an option. Pick a favorite design and tell the client which it is during the presentation. They are paying you for your expertise, so make sure you share it.
  • End with a visual summary. The last slide of your presentation should be a snapshot of each comp. It will help the client give feedback if they see each option side by side.

After the presentation:

  • Follow up quickly. If you give the client too much time with the designs after the meeting, they will start to pick them apart. You need to address feedback right away and get the ball rolling again.
  • Align your team. Get your team together right after the meeting to debrief. Talk about what went well, what went badly and the next steps for the project.
  • Avoid “Frankensteining.” The client may ask you to take pieces from each design and combine them. Avoid this at all costs. It will make for a disjointed design and user experience.

This was a great session, and I plan to apply this advice and start sucking less at presenting creative.

-Katie Donabedian, Senior Digital Account Executive

Our view of Austin as we walked to SXSW.
Our view of Austin as we walked to SXSW.

Did you attend SXSW Interactive this year? Tweet us your best SXSW moments @WalkerSands!