SXSW Eco is for Communicators


Written by Julie Yost

The SXSW Eco Conference highlights innovative ideas and new ways of addressing critical challenges at both the local and global levels. Bringing together multiple disciplines is a key focus at SXSW Eco, but attendees also have an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of their own field while garnering a greater understanding of the cleantech environment.

SXSW Eco programming and events are organized into 10 distinct themes, including Startup Central, Corporate Responsibility, and Communications.

Storytelling and messaging are critical skills for almost every profession in our age of information overshare. For thinkfluencers who communicate social and environmental issues, these skills can mean the difference between the failure and success of your chosen cause. Each year at SXSW Eco, we bring together experts in marketing, communications, and design to share their secrets for breaking through the noise. Check out these sessions, speakers, and events relevant to communications professionals taking place at SXSW Eco from October 10-12.

Register for SXSW Eco by September 16 to save 25% off of the walk up rate!

Humor + Virality

  • Join Adam Albright-Hanna (GOOD) and Phoebe Gavin (ThinkProgress) to learn techniques to make your content as popular as cats in Embracing Virality. Also on Monday, communications whizzes Henk Campher and John Friedman explain who your audience is and why they should care in the funniest workshop of the year.

  • Tuesday, try your hand at making an audience laugh in our first ever debate night, Smart Cities are Dumb!

  • Learn how humor can be a tool in messaging the most serious of topics with Funny or Die and Defend Our Future in Climate Change is Funny.

  • Last but not least, our closing Keynote Bill Nye the Science Guy is sure to conclude the SXSW Eco 2016 programming with some laughs.

Multimedia + Visual Comms

  • Creative storytelling is a big theme for us this year, as indicated by the humor-packed sessions outlined above. In addition to comedy, learn how multimedia tools can be leveraged to make your message more impactful (and spreadable). On Monday afternoon, Huffington Post's Test Kitchen shares their innovative strategies for multimedia impact journalism in a participatory workshop. Also Monday, four indigenous leaders including comedian Dallas Goldtooth and Bernie Sanders advisor Tara Houska discuss how they indigenous environmental movement and their allies are Decolonizing Communications and Media using multimedia storytelling.

  • Explore data visualization strategies for environmental justice with Waterkeeper, uncover hidden cultural landscapes through mapping with Annette Kim, and learn how Alcatraz used virtual reality to create an unsurpassed Ai Weiwei exhibition. We'll also be demo-ing VR technology in the SXSW Eco Exhibition.

  • Data visualization is also a popular technique for artists + designers in our Place by Design competition. Our Equity + Inclusion category features SPEA by SITU Research, which recently led to the first-ever war crime conviction for cultural heritage destruction. In the same category, #OurChangingClimate visualizes how changing climate is changing our surroundings through a collaborative conversation. In Place by Design's Art + Interaction category, projects such as Lightswarm and XYZ Atlas also visualize data in new and creative ways.

Collaboration + Impact

  • At the intersection of social good and storytelling, Mother's Sasha Markova leads The Recoding, a workshop on Tuesday rethinking the messaging of the social impact movement as well as our roles in it.

  • More and more organizations are understanding that transparency is key. In the past two years, Green 2.0 has encouraged leading philanthropic organizations and environmental groups to release their diversity data in order to reveal how many people of color are in leadership positions driving environmental impact. Join them in an intimate working lab to learn how to better recruit and retain diverse employees at your organization.

  • Tuesday, the VP's of Communications for REI and Unilever lead a dual conversation on Values-Driven Business. On Wednesday, Keynote William McDonough joins communications leaders from the USGBC and NRDC to discuss new strategies for communicating organizational transparency in The New Radicals.

  • Get feedback on your next campaign, your branding and more from our Communications Mentors throughout the course of the conference. Mentors include speakers from the above sessions, including Jonathan Atwood of Unilever, Alex Thompson of REI, Sasha Markova of Mother, Phoebe Gavin of ThinkProgress and many more.

A main strength of SXSW Eco is the cross-disciplinary nature of the event, so take time to browse the full schedule and add some sessions outside of your standard frame of reference to gain inspiration from new ideas. If you haven't registered yet there is still time to save on your badge and book your hotel at our special rate.

Photo by Jason Rosewell

By Chris Cantu