ASE caught up with Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer of the iconic South by Southwest (SXSW) conference and festivals, a ten day event in Austin, Texas, at the MEA Conference 2018 at which Forrest delivered a keynote.
Attracting the likes of Elon Musk, President Obama and Mark Zuckerberg as speakers, as well as effectively launching the Twitter platform in 2007, SXSW had an economic impact of US$349 million in 2017 and attracted approximately 432,500 participants in 2018. The event comprises a conference, music, film, gaming and comedy festivals, a trade show and various exhibitions.
During his chat with ASE, Forrest talked about the critical turning points during the life of SXSW which started as a three day music conference in 1987, how his Apple computer got him a job at the event in 1989 and an amusing retrospective faux pas resulting from underestimating the rise of Google.
Forrest’s presentation at the MEA Conference included an exploration of seven ideas to help events stay relevant (as learnt by SXSW):
#1 Focus on the future
#2 Mix younger and older (presenters)
#3 Energy is more important than expertise
#4 Sell your story
#5 Listen, listen, listen to your community
#6 Build new platforms for your community
#7 Creativity is king