Jennifer L. Jacobson is the founder of Jacobson Communication.
When it comes to preparing for South by Southwest, there’s a lot that attending companies can learn from the zombie apocalypse.
Surviving the environment
1. The days are long. The nights are longer.
If you’re looking for a work-vacation, you’ve come to the wrong place. A typical company day at SXSW starts around 6:00am and ends at 3:00am.
2. Carry reliable weapons
If your cell phone is on the fritz or your laptop is unable to hold more than a 1-hour charge, upgrade. If you rely on it, it has to work. It’s also a good idea to carry a charger with you, just in case.
3. Take sleep where and when you can
Remember: SXSW (and the zombie apocalypse) is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to make your energy last, so be sure to budget time for sleep.
4. Carry or secure your possessions
There’s no safe place to “set something down” during the zombie apocalypse or SXSW and it’s a long, crowded way from the show floor to your hotel room. Bring an appropriate bag to carry everything. There are sometimes rentable lockers near the registration area. If you can’t use a locker, lock your valuables up at the booth.
Your Personal Health
5. You will become infected
Everyone gets sick at SXSW. It’s a cluster of contagion, so be prepared. Bring your cold medicine and include some flexibility in your team’s schedule.
6. Comfortable shoes are a must
Whether you’re running from zombies or walking the endless show floors and sidewalks in Austin, comfortable shoes are a must. No heels or painful shoes allowed.
7. If you drink, you still have to function
While water is a necessity to surviving SXSW or the zombie apocalypse, alcohol is not: especially if you have to function. If you’re going to drink at SXSW, only have a little, and only when you can relax out of the public eye. You’re representing your company—even when you’re not at the booth. Make sure your team also understands this.
Your zombie apocalypse team
8. Only go with people you trust
Your SXSW company team should be a tight-knit group that trusts each other. This is not the place to bring loose cannons.
9. The best teams have a plan
Staying current and connected is key to survival. Know what each team member is doing throughout the show, review daily, and make sure you team has everyone’s contact information.
10. Frantic activity does not equal survival
SXSW is an easy place to stay busy, whether going to late-night parties, film screenings, or running from one thing to the next…but you need to stay focused. Have a goal for every event you go to. It’s not enough to collect 50 business cards. You have to connect with real people—hopefully, the right people, and it has to mean something.
Jennifer L. Jacobson is the founder of Jacobson Communication and a Silicon Valley leader known for helping great companies, organizations, and ideas get the attention they deserve. Her past guest posts at VentureBeat include “5 reasons your startup is failing at PR” and “10 PR mistakes you need to resolve in 2014.”
She is also a social media expert and author, known for her book, 42 Rules of Social Media for Small Business.