Being a native Texan, there are many things that I admire and love about the lone star state. I adore the state pride and fact that anywhere you go a Texas flag is always in site. I live for the delicious food fusion that is tex-mex, the slow speaking, southern draw of the natives and the strong, warming Texas sun. But above all this, I love Austin. The state capital has long been a city that breeds creativity, innovation and self-expression. Many iconic musicians have been born there and many corporations are starting to see the unique environment that is “Austin.” With huge companies such as Whole Foods Market based there and more such as Apple and Dell opening campuses on the city outskirts, Austin is quickly becoming a mecca of entrepreneurship, new ideas and opportunity.

To capitalize on this wave of innovation, the city hosts SXSW. SXSW takes over the city and showcases the best and brightest in the film, interactive and music. It has become a breeding house for growing companies and groups to find their voice and gain recognition both on a national level and world-wide. From Marketing conferences, to tech displays to film premiers to secret shows by both well know and up and coming bands, the festival is a playground for those looking for the next “big thing.”

This year I had the opportunity to attend the festival for the first time. Having visited Austin many times, both as a child and as an adult, I have never seen the city glow quite as it did during SXSW. People from all over the world were scouring the city and there were surprises around every corner. Every day offered something new. From Dave Grohl playing a secret show to stumbling on awesome products and ideas in the start-up village to numerous key notes and talks, it was stimulation everywhere you turned. The best part was that the city was full of people just like me; those who are interested in music, intrigued by technology and looking to better themselves by being educated on cutting edge technology and marketing techniques. It is one of the only events that I have been to that is solely fueled by social media. Every event that I attended had a social media component. The stipulations varied but weather you had to tweet to get in, sign up for a MySpace account (yes, MySpace is back) or connect with a brand digitally, the entire event digitally integrated. The experience really opened my eyes to how powerful social media has become and the value that a social media voice plays for an emerging brand.

I came home with not only a new appreciation for the digital world (and some awesome new bands to add to my itunes,) but with a new vision on how to really move the needle with social media. SXSW is a once in a lifetime experience as every single year offers opportunities to experience newer and greater tools. It is an event that I would recommend to anyone in the communications field and I plan to never miss again! Don’t mess with Texas!

Mimi Clark Publicist