7 Ways the White House Built Buzz Around the SXSL Live Stream

October 3, 2016

At the beginning of September, the White House announced South By South Lawn (SXSL), an innovation-themed event slated for Oct. 3 produced in tandem with—and based on—the iconic South by Southwest (SXSW) music, technology and film festival. The timing of the announcement gave SXSL planners only a month of lead time to build buzz and encourage audiences nationwide to tune in for the live stream, which garnered hundreds of thousands of live viewers.

Below, a breakdown of the SXSL press campaign leading up to and during the live event.

Traditional Press Release. The White House posted a release to its online news room on Sept. 1 to announce the festival and the nomination process by which attendees were selected. The announcement briefly outlined the event and its overarching goals, while driving an air of exclusivity via its competitive attendee referral process.

Earned Media Spanning Multiple Industries. Keeping in mind SXSL’s multi-genre program, SXSL’s planners earned pre-event coverage in outlets spanning technology, black culture, women’s interest and music news including Stereogum, Bustle and Black Enterprise. TechCrunch and Fast Company were permitted to send journalists to live stream portions of the festival.

Streamlined Microsite. The White House created a simple microsite for SXSL that consisted of a single page listing the day’s agenda and a brief FAQ. The microsite included embedded YouTube video of one of the festival panels up top, linking to the Facebook Live stream directly below the video.

Press Release Reminder. The day of the event, the White House posted a second press release, providing context for audiences that hadn’t yet heard about the event (including a personalized email from President Obama) and a timely reminder for non-attendees to tune in live.

Partners’ Websites & Social Media Accounts. Along with SXSW, the White House partnered with several groups to put on SXSL, including the American Film Institute (AFI) and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). SXSW and AFI‘s landing pages linked to streams and news around the event. PCAH used a pinned link on their Twitter account directing users to the live stream.

Pre-Event and Ongoing Social Media Coverage. In the days leading up to SXSL, the White House retweeted performers taking part in the festival. In the hours leading up to the event, the White House posted behind-the-scenes photos of The Lumineers and NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert setup. Kimberly Drew, social media manager at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, covered SXSL via an influencer takeover of the president’s Instagram Stories. Attendees, partnered organizations and viewers could post and tweet about the event with the easy-to-remember hashtag #SXSL.

Directing Viewers to One Place

The White House directed viewers to its Facebook page for the SXSL live stream, which saw far more live traffic than accompanying YouTube videos. YouTube videos were posted to the event microsite as each panel finished, allowing for post-session viewing. The White House did not stream any events on Periscope, though attendees scoped clips from the festival.

Follow Sophie: @SophieMaerowitz

By: Sophie Maerowitz

At The Social Shake-Up