Members of an official D.C. delegation to the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive tech conference in Austin, Tex., are heading out to spread the word on D.C.'s tech scene.
The delegation includes Mayor Vincent Gray and other representatives from the D.C. government, as well as Tiffany Thacker and Keith Sellars of the Washington, DC Economic Partnership.
The primary focus of sending Gray to Austin for the weekend of networking and revelry that has become nearly legendary in tech circles is "going after media," says Thacker, WDCEP's manager of development and communications. According to official SXSW statistics, last year more than 3,200 journalists from around the world attended SXSWi. The plan involves making Mayor Gray and other D.C. tech luminaries, like iStrategyLabs founder Peter Corbett and former Blackboard CEO Michael Chasen available for interviews all day to give reporters exposure to the stories happening now in D.C.'s tech scene.
The delegation is also performing a little guerrilla marketing, Thacker says. "We have sunglasses, koozies, and stickers" branded with the hashtag #dctech, which Thacker would like to see businesses use at SXSWi to showcase their product launches and job openings. "We'll have 15 to 20 people from the community handing out packets...painting the town with this material."
The team is also partnering with Tech Cocktail to host an official DC Tech meetup, with the all-important SXSW draw: free food. The event Saturday night already has more than 300 RSVPs, Thacker says, with a lot of attendees hailing from all over the world.
The conference will be the first SXSWi for the official D.C. delegation. With nearly 25,000 participants attending 1,000 sessions and 165 official parties last year, this year's conference could be just as overwhelming for newbies. "We briefed the mayor," Thacker says, "but we don't think he's going to understand it until he's on the ground."