True Hollywood Story: DeVries PR at the 140 Characters Conference/LA
Image via Jon Cronin and Whrrl)
Our agency sponsored the “140 Characters” Conference in Los Angeles last week, supporting a two-day exploration of what conference organizer Jeff Pulver calls “The State of Now” and the effect of the real-time internet on culture. We created a DeVries PR Buzz Lounge in the lobby of the Kodak Theater, a place for everyone at the conference to recharge and connect. We kept them stoked with free caffeine, cupcakes and ethernet connections. We also thought it would be an interesting challenge to see if we could capture video sound bites from conference speakers and in something close to real time, send those sound bite packages out across the interwebz to give people at home a taste of what was happening at the conference. You can view and share these segments at our DeVries YouTube channel; meanwhile, this is a bit of what went on behind the scenes as we worked to bring our Buzz Lounge concept to life.
Sunday, October 26th
8 PM: Heading for LA tomorrow. I have convinced my boss that it is a good idea for DeVries to sponsor the LA edition of the “140 Characters” conference. I tell him it will demonstrate our commitment to and understanding of the cutting edge of social media. I also tell him it will enable me to stalk Jeffrey Hayzlett of Kodak, my current CMO crush. Hayzlett doesn’t know it yet, but he really wants to work with DeVries.
9:55 PM: Packing on hold. Time for me to live-tweet this week’s episode of “Mad Men.” Evidence of how cutting edge and Twitter-savvy I am.
11:00 PM: Back to packing. Based on the NYC 140conf dress code, I am going casual. I tell my team to wear jeans and heavy black-rimmed eyeglasses so they fit in with all the geeks digital influencers. I also suggest they don’t shave but am shot down since most of them are women.
Monday, October 27th
7 AM: Airport. Never have I seen a security line this long. I ask airport worker lady where the Elite Access line is. She points to a queue of people that snakes around itself and out of sight like a coiled serpent of unhappiness and misery.
7:40 AM: My line has moved forward three inches. I feel very Elite.
12:00 PM: West coast time! Hollywood here we come! Meet driver at baggage claim. Tell him I’m waiting to meet my colleague Danielle who’s flying in on a different airline. Realize that airline is two terminals away. It seems driving two terminals away to fetch Danielle will inconvenience him. I’m confused because I’m pretty sure I’m paying him.
12:02 PM: Try to reach Danielle on her cell to get her to take a tram to our terminal. I worry driver will do me bodily harm if I can’t make this happen STAT. Try to explain why it’s important we find Danielle because she’s my awesome video blogger correspondent but driver doesn’t seem to care.
1:00 PM: Danielle located and secured in SUV. Relief. I have my video blogger, without whom our whole sponsorship concept falls apart.
1:30 PM: Check in at Roosevelt. Rooms not ready.
2:00 PM: Rooms still not ready.
3:00 PM: Rooms still not ready. Resolve for the 800th time never to stay in a boutique hotel again.
4:00 PM: Head over to Kodak Theater to meet Thom, our brilliant event designer. Jeff Pulver himself lets us in so we can check out our space in the main Lobby. I’m pretty sure Pulver can tell by looking at me how cutting-edge and Twitter-savvy I am. Meanwhile, Thom has outdone himself and other than the fact that in-house caterers are not allowing us to bring in our special cupcakes, things are looking great for tomorrow.
5:00 PM: Cupcake-gate resolved. We pay extra money so that we may offer red velvet goodness to conference attendees. This turns out to be a very good investment.
(The photo is blurry because we had to refill the cupcake trays at warp speed to keep up with consumption. I’m not kidding. Image via Heather Meeker and Whrrl)
8:00 PM: Pre-conference-party sponsored by RealPlayer. Connect with beloved Twitter friends Jessica Gottlieb, Heather Meeker and Shelly Kramer, meet many amazing new people with whom I exchange cards, and watch in amazement as Owen JJ Stone aka “Oh Doctah” downs five Long Island Iced Teas without breaking a sweat.
Me and the man they call “Oh Doctah” (image via askohdoctah)
10:00 PM: Realize I’ve offered four people jobs and proposed marriage to three others. Time to call it a night.
(That’s the DeVries crew in foreground, slightly out of focus at the end of a long day. Back of my head and Kathy’s reveal impeccable highlighting upkeep. Danielle is making shadow puppets while Jon mimes the use of a handheld electronic device. Image via RealPlayer)
Tuesday, October 27th
8:00 AM: Showtime!
(Danielle and cameraman extraordinaire A.J. making it happen in the DeVries Buzz Lounge, interviewing Jeff Pulver on the State of Now. Image via Jon Cronin and Whrrl)
The next two days pass in a blur. Because one of our Twitter Critters falls ill, we end up short-handed which means less time for all of us in the auditorium watching speakers, more time hustling in the Buzz Lounge. But that’s fine, since much of the conference action is taking place right here on and around our white lounging sofas and lucite bar stools. We are packed from the time the conference doors open till they close at night. I go home at the end of Day One covered in cupcake icing. Danielle and our crew from Pack Media Online are tireless, wrangling speakers for interviews (including my CMO soulmate Jeff Hayzlett) and turning around beautifully edited packages on impossibly fast timing. Jon and Kathy are working the keyboards, tweeting and retweeting our video content along with all the other amazing insight coming from the Kodak Theater stage.
It is a glorious experience. Oh Doctah recaps it beautifully (as only he can) here. And this is our final highlight reel in which Jeff Pulver offers what may be my all-time favorite quote about Twitter: “At the end of every tweet, there is a person.”
Update: While we were grabbing footage in the Buzz Lounge, fellow sponsors RealPlayer were doing a great job documenting what was going on inside the theater. Check out their videos here. Oh, and here’s footage of my CMO boyfriend Hayzlett doing a striptease and definitely not pitching his brand *at all.*