Storytelling at SXSW — Evia’s First Day



SXSW Day 1 — Enabling People to Tell Their Stories

SXSW Interactive is, by design, a platform that encourages story telling. People observe, discuss and document their experience nonstop throughout the event. I first saw this as I drove in to town and a group of attendees were interviewing a pedicab driver on the sidewalk. I could only imagine his observations from this week alone. Every barista, waiter and waitress has asked where we are from and something about our trip — and we have done the same. Over and over we are given the opportunity to share something about our journey.

I attended sessions with three completely different formats — a presenter, a 1:1 interview and a panel discussion. In each case the speakers were given some direction on a topic and they expressed answers in their own way. From the presenter with his prepared and polished message to the other two conversations that flowed from question to question, each informed the audience from a specific point of view.

There is something important about giving people the opportunity and outlet to share stories and I am excited to continue examining ways for our company to be part of this culture.


SXSW Day 1 — Accuracy in Storytelling

During my first day of my first #SXSW, I haven’t experienced anything quite like the size and scope of it. My sessions on day 1 focused mainly on American politics, from potential changes to the electoral college, to the security of our content and even a panel with some TV characters who play politicians. Among the sessions I attended was a great panel on the rise of fake news and what journalists and platforms are doing to combat its proliferation. A panelist from the Associated Press talked about what they are doing to help fact check stories, and other panelists discussed how technology platforms are creating tools and algorithms to combat fake news.

It really made me reflect on our organization and our role in sharing digital content. We are a company that helps organizations tell their stories, bringing their content to the people. We are the vehicle that allows them to share content with their audiences and get their message out. But is there a role for us to play to make sure that what our clients are sharing on our platforms is accurate? It’s a question I will bring back to my team in the coming weeks.


SXSW Day 1 — Narratives Illustrated through Data

SXSW is a whirlwind, to say the least. While I’ve milled around conference spaces in massive venues like Chicago and Las Vegas, this is the first time I’ve seen so many diverse people amassed from different walks of life. With 3 overarching categories, Film Music, and Interactive, SXSW offers experiences broad enough to draw professionals across industries. Yet, the conference has 24 tracks of programming that are specific enough to offer value whether you’re a young UX designer at a small firm, an angel investor looking for her next opportunity, or a seasoned brand manager at a CPG giant.

I could argue one thread that ties all attendees together is curiosity. A desire to learn that is satiated by innovation and skillful storytelling. From the sessions I attended on day 1, I found that the hundreds of people seated around me wanted to know the same thing: how do we connect with audiences, potential customers through a practice tens of thousands of years old (up to even 100,000 years — as old as the first anatomically correct humans).

My first session “Turning Data into Shareable Stories” with speakers from Upworthy, the Ad Council, and GOOD helped answer how to take statistics, a cause, and weave them into a story that can change people’s minds and shift their thinking.

One particularly effective campaign for the Ad Council: Type 2 Diabetes Prevention campaign. A topic we don’t really want to think about, but by humorously and curtly facing it head on, the message came across effectively.