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Howdy. There’s no playground quite like the country’s biggest interactive media conference that is South by Southwest. ChatterBlasters Evan and Matt had the opportunity to run amok through that playground last year— one of their biggest takeaways? “We have to go back in 2016.”

This year, the CBMxSXSW delegation increases by two, as Philly.com Audience Engagement Manager/’Blaster alum Erica Palan and fashion mogul/friend to all ‘Blasters Ian Michael Crumm will be taking on all Austin has to offer. We (meaning me, Marc, hi) recently sat down with Matt, Evan, Erica and Ian to discuss their personal gameplans, offer tips and tricks, and uncover the secrets to SXSW success.

Here it is! Image: Austin 360.

Image: Austin 360.

ChatterBlast: So, SXSW! It’s almost here and that’s exciting. What’s everyone going to be up to in Austin?

Evan: Matt and I are going to Austin for ourselves to learn, innovate and think as well as make connections and bring back new ideas for our team, to share them with everyone. It’s also great that some of our clients are there with activations and panels, so it will be a nice mixture of business and fun.

Erica: I’m moderating a panel called Comments Are Terrible: But They Don’t Have to Be, presented by The Coral Project. They’re working on making comments better on news websites. Basically, we all know that comments are a problem on news websites all across the country. And what they aim to do is help publishers figure out how to solve this problem.

Ian: I’m working with a top-secret media company for an event that I can’t actually talk about until it’s over!

Matt: Stay tuned for that!

CBM:  C’mon Ian, give us a scoop!

Ian: They didn’t even send me all the details! Totally on lockdown. I just know that it’s a brunch event.

Matt: Brunch? I’m in.

CBM: Fair enough! Matt and Evan, what advice do you have for our SXSW first-timers?

Erica: Hang on! I have the most important question. As someone who’s been to SXSW, what should I, as a panel moderator, wear?

Matt: What should you wear? Hmm…  I think your fashion sense is right on point, actually. Kind of like, hipster, sassy librarian. You know?

Erica: Perfect.

Matt: You don’t want be like old lady PR, but you also don’t wanna come off as the flip-flop millennial. It’s somewhere really in between. Last year it was a lot of glasses and tweeds.

Ian: OK, is it really gonna be a sin if someone wears sandals? …Are sandals too casual for SXSW?

Evan: I think you can wear whatever you want there. Everyone’s welcome. Just no Crocs.

Ian: No Crocs.

CBM: So we have the hot fashion. What else is a can’t-miss?

Matt: I really enjoyed the panels, and learned a lot of really powerful things. The other best moment I had last year was meeting Cookie Monster his puppeteer in the PBS lounge.

Hot tip: Check out the lounges, they’re really great. They always have free snacks, free Wi-Fi, free power.

Erica: That’s good to know. That is valuable.

Evan: You have to stay as close as you can to downtown Austin. Don’t be afraid to be bold and introduce yourself to people. Experiment with food. Try stuff you haven’t tried before. Eat at the food trucks. Don’t try to do everything because there’s too many things and it’s overwhelming. Make friends with people who can get you into good parties. [Editor’s note: We at ChatterBlast do not normally condone taking advantage of the kindness of strangers to get on “the list” for killer parties, but we will make an exception here.]

Matt: But if you are on a fixed income,  there is plenty of free food. And free t-shirts! I came back with 26 free t-shirts last year. Everyone is giving out t-shirts.

Ian: I can’t imagine they are very nice t-shirts though!

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Image: TechCrunch.

CBM: What are your biggest expectations? Anything you’re looking forward to specifically?

Ian: I’m looking forward to getting into whatever parties I can. Just seeing what the new technology is for this upcoming year and seeing how it can influence any sort of projects I’ll be working on in 2016. For me, it is about a good mix of fun and learning.

Evan: Last year some brands really nailed their parties and  activations. Samsung took over a house and really blew it out of the park, McDonald’s did a live event music series for the entire week. But don’t just lock yourself into the SXSW grind.  Explore Austin by bike or pedicab, see things beyond the convention center. Matt and I are renting bikes this year so we’ll be riding around the city all week.

Matt: There’s a lot of neat things that are going on off the beaten path.  Wacky art or interesting social experiments, and even some really memorable renegade parties.  I think that one thing millennials make the mistake of — we don’t talk to one another. We never turn to the person next to us and be like, “Hey, where are you from? What are you doing? Why are you here?” I want to do that. I need to do that. I think you can just find really interesting people doing amazing stuff next to you in each panel.

Erica: That’s a good tip. Uh, so you’re defining yourself as a millennial now, Matt?

Matt: Well. At SXSW, for sure.

CBM: We’re all millennials at SXSW.

Matt: We’re all millennials at SXSW.

Well, you heard it here, folks. Looks like our extended ChatterFam is in for a wild, Southern technology extravaganza. Want to follow along as the gang gets into all sorts of hijinks? Bam: we’re reactivating our hotter-than-Texas hashtag #ChatterSXSW!

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