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By Will Silvey Simons • @silveywill
Covering an international conference such as South by Southwest for your company’s blog can be a daunting task, but thankfully new technology is making it easier than ever before. Working at SMC puts me in a position that pushes me out of my comfort zone. As the editor of a social media startup, you might assume I’d be most excited for SXSW Interactive, populated by the movers-and-shakers behind the latest tools people will be using in the tech and social media realms. That’s all fine and dandy with me, and I’m relishing in every new thing I’m learning each day at SMC, but you see my background lies in arts and entertainment coverage, specializing in all things music.
In 2009 and 2010, I covered the music aspect of SXSW for an alt-weekly I was working for at the time. (Heck, I was even in a band that PLAYED at the festival in 2010.) As a writer, I had two primary objectives: Write for my audience and meet my daily deadlines.
For me, this meant covering the bands from the city my employer was based out of (Omaha) and all things relative to and revolving around Omaha’s music scene. Sure, I added plenty of content about non-Omaha bands I happened to come across as well as color commentary about the experience — it is an international festival after all — but if I strayed too far from relating to my readers back home and giving them what they expected, it would be a disservice to them (and my editors, publication, etc.). Not good.
Technology has enabled anyone to potentially spread breaking content around the world in a just a few minutes. Not utilizing the latest tools only leaves you in the dust. I sound like an old man (I’m not even 30!), but in 2009, Twitter was just building momentum as a tool for breaking news, there were no apps like Instagram, and most smartphones were only able to awkwardly share pics and videos at best (e.g. my Blackberry Tour). And that was JUST THREE YEARS AGO. I was also lugging a bulky camera around my neck the entire time. If was able to cover SXSW this year, all I’d need is my iPhone 4s in my pocket for immersive, multimedia coverage and the trusty laptop back at the hotel room to hammer out daily posts for my editors back home.
The nature of the news cycle moves faster now than ever, so meeting tight deadlines, sometimes several in a day, is vital to creating content that is fresh and relevant. On the flip side, the nature of this content is often disposable, but we’ll save that for another post.