Five Weeks To Go: Personal Schwag and Paperwork for SXSW 2012
Continuing on from last week’s post covering the basics (in summary, get a ticket, get a travel, pray for a hotel, and break in your boots), let’s look at the other major preparations that have a lead time. If you don’t get these bits sorted in the next seven days, you’re leaving an awful lot to chance – or a pricey next-day rush job.
ETSAs and Visas
Actually, there’s no real way to rush your paperwork if you are travelling across the border into the USA. Make sure you’ve got a valid passport, and even if you’re from a Visa waiver country, you’ll need to apply online for an ETSA. If you’re outside the Visa Waiver, or you are travelling to Southby to do something that’s not covered by the waiver (such as putting on a musical performance or showcase), you’ll need the full Visa – if so start here.
Yes we all have snazzy smartphones (at least at Interactive) but there’s nothing simpler than a business card you can swap in a dingy bar, dark BBQ, or the middle of the Austin Convention Center corridor as two of you are pulled in different directions. Leave a bit of white space to scrawl a note and you’re all set. My favourite trick is to do one ‘tag’ on a card about the person who gave it to me, be it #Follow, #Avoid, or #LooksLikeBradMajors.
If you’re looking for some card ideas, can we point out the Moo.com special offer in your SXswag bag? You can pick up 50 cards for P&P only, or if you have a bigger order to put in, there’s a 20% discount code you can use. Naturally other business card printing services are available.
Laptop stickers, thumbnails, big circles, cheeky name badges with space beside you company name for people to write their own name… same drill as the business cards, but for some reason flight cases, bags, and laptop lids love stickers at SXSW. The investment will be worth it, and stickers tend to stay on display as people travel the halls of Austin, PR and a walking advert? Simples!
More one for Music than Interactive,although the geeks love them too, but the inch and two-inch button badges go down wonderfully well. I’ve a little shop in Glasgow (www.weebadgers.com) that put together The Baby! Badges – ask me nicely in Austin for one – but hit up Bing Local or Google and you’ll be fine.
Other stuff… like chalk
There is always something wacky in the back of your mind to do for SXSW. Foursquare bought a box of chalk so they could play foursquare on the pavement; the Secret History of Eurovision brought hundreds of flags on cocktail sticks, every band needs a box of CD’s to give away at a gig, heck I once asked my wife if she could whip up a five foot high Cthulhu arm-puppet so I could stand out.
If you have a crazy idea, now is the time to commit and get it sorted. The clock is ticking…