Newton O'Neill Communications
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Work Hard, Play Hard - My First South by Southwest

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SXSW was even more exciting, thrilling, inspiring and exhausting than I could have ever imagined! I’ve had time to prepare for close to eight months, ever since I picked up from my comfortable life in NYC to make a life change and move across the country to Austin. It was a scary move, but has paid off in so many wonderful ways and I knew SXSW would just be the icing on the cake. It’s the biggest event of the year in Austin, and companies spend a large part of their budget just preparing, planning and printing all those adorable shirts to give away.

I was preparing for two very different experiences at SXSW: 1) attending events and working on behalf of a few clients, and meeting journalists from all over the country (and world as the international visitors are a much larger percentage of the total guests than I originally anticipated). And 2) I was ready for some of the amazing parties I heard about from friends that had experienced SXSW in the past -- my group of friends and I spent the month prior to the festival finding as many online party RSVPs as we could and signing up to make sure we were on all of the lists for the exclusive parties from rock concerts to the biggest tech event, the Mashable party.

The work experience was fantastic. I met journalists in a new light and it was great to be the ‘Austin expert’ to old writer friends visiting from NYC and having them ask me for restaurant recommendations, as opposed to it usually being the other way around. I met new potential clients that are ready to sign with an Austin PR firm next week, and also a few lifestyle startups that requested I stay in touch once they get more financing, or if they are ready for an on-the-ground PR team at 2013 SXSW.

Some of the parties were a little overwhelming, especially when you think about the excess of food for SXSW attendees who don’t really need it while thousands in and around Austin, much less millions around the world, are hungry. But, the events were a great place to meet new friends, run into old friends and just experience the whirlwind this city becomes for nine short days every year.

The complimentary shirts, flip flops and other cute little perks were also super. While some of the serious tech companies without a fun logo will be reserved for sleepwear, I do want to thank those companies that made great looking, very soft tees and reward them by wearing them out and about to promote their businesses. To you other tech guys -- make note of those shirts made out of ridiculously soft cotton blend, cute patterns and fun colors, and I’ll be happy to market myself in your shirts next year too!

Now that it’s over though, I really need a shirt that says I survived. More like a bumper sticker so I can show proof daily for the next 320 days or so until it’s time to start getting ready for SXSW 2013. I can't wait, but I do need all of this year to prepare for it!