5 tips to help you submit a SXSW proposal…There’s still time

July 18, 2012

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The SXSW PanelPicker proposal deadline is this Friday, July 20, at midnight (Image credit: sxsw.com).


Every summer, I promise myself that I’ll plan better. And every summer, the SXSW Interactive PanelPicker deadline sneaks up on me like Chopper snuck up on Gordie LaChance in Stand By Me.

This summer’s deadline is this Friday (July 20) at midnight. If you’re having an “Oh, crap” moment as you read this and are wondering whether you can get one written in time, I just finished working on one this week. Probably took me about 4-5 hours all together. But some of that time was getting approvals. Still, it’s only Thursday morning. You can do it!

If you do decide to take the plunge and write a proposal this week, here are five tips that I learned going through the process this year and in years past:

1. Brand case studies have a better chance of getting selected than philosophical thought leadership proposals. What do we always hear at conferences? People want more actual examples of what companies are doing — something they can take back to their office and potentially use to do their job better. The philosophical discussion are interesting, but seems like you need to have written an uber-popular blog or a book to make it in that way.

2. Go deep on a specific campaign or case versus trying to cover a topic from a 30,000-foot view. I don’t know about you, but I am always guilty of trying to include too much detail in a presentation or a blog post. SXSW Interactive notes in its FAQ “the more specific the proposal, the better.”

3. Submit a Solo or Dual presentation versus an actual panel. Another helpful tidbit from the SXSW Interactive FAQ. The organizers say they are cutting down on panels this year for other types of programming, most notably solo and dual submissions.

4. The title is very important. Remember, crowdsourced voting plays a significant role in which proposals are picked. And often times people vote based solely on the title of the panel. Voting is super easy — you just click a thumbs up button. So it is sort of a popularity contest and catchy titles get more votes.

5. Makes sure you click the submit button before midnight Friday. No duh, right? Well, just remember, filling out the entire panelpicker online form doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t complete that final step and submit your proposal. It’s the “is it plugged in” of SXSW submissions. But you’ll feel awful if it happens to you.

There you have it. If you can find the time — and trust me, there’s still time — try to make a proposal happen. It’s good experience, you can use it for other award submissions and if your idea gets picked, you get a free pass to SXSW. Nothing better than Austin in March.

Hope to see you there.

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