[caption id="attachment_3914" align="aligncenter" width="305" caption="Photo credit: SXSW.com"][/caption]

SXSW’s Interactive PanelPicker for 2014 includes a dizzying abundance of potential sessions related to all of marketing’s trendiest movements: content, storytelling, brand journalism, big data, social commerce, among others.

The panel picker involves a two-step process in which members of the SXSW community have the opportunity to vote, once per session, on those they would like included at the festival. According to its website, for 2014 SXSW Interactive “is seeking advanced-level ideas that focus on creativity and innovation across the various new media industries.” Submissions closed last month and voting, which opened on Monday, will go through Sept. 6.

Anyone with an Internet can vote and this accounts for about 30% of the decision-making process for festival’s programming. The remainder of the decision-making comes from the SXSW Advisory Boards (40%) and the input of the SXSW staff (30%).

Among those topics most germane to PR, regarding content, include:

  • Are PR agencies muscling their way into marketing budgets?

  • Making native advertising buzzworthy without overtly selling;

  • Whether brands will follow the HBO and Netflix model and fully transition to quality content creators rather than simply distributors;

  • Collecting metadata -- from social networks, cell phones or other digital trails -- for storytelling, without overreaching;

  • Creating content, amplifying content, optimizing content, visualizing content, discovering content, behavior-changing content, humanizing content, consumer-generated content, soul-saving content, scalable content, etc.

If you include all of the session types (panels, solo, workshops, etc), there are nearly 500 topics related to content and distribution. The social and relationships category has 258 topics to vote on, among these:

  • The gaps in social analytics and the targeting advantages of combining social data with surveys;

  • Integrating social data into existing organizational systems and processes;

  • How word-of-mouth can be executed at scale, how social can drive sales, how to cultivate the super fans and advocates, etc;

  • Moving community management beyond community managers, becoming a community driven brand;

  • Sustaining a cohesive brand personality, questioning the effectiveness of hashtag engagement, virality and even the entirety of social media.

Of course, there are hundreds more topics related to marketing and communication for your consideration. But as Marshall Manson, now EMEA MD of [email protected], advised at SXSW 2013 -- to maximize your SXSW experience, head to panels on topics you know nothing about.

On that note, there’s no shortage of options. Among the most intriguing:

  • Flying cars, talking cars and the overall reimagination of driving;

  • Bringing the collaborative economy to the big enterprise, specifically financial services;

  • The link between oxytocin and building stronger relationships between brands and consumers;

  • Cloud robotics and “Matrix” like capabilities, aging amid the Internet of things, wearing big data;

  • The future of 3D printing, space technology, surveillance culture, palliative medicine in the US, etc.

An interesting observation on the evolving focus of SXSW, the futuristic themes about disrupting everyday life (smart transportation, AI, privacy, among others) typically had less than 100 session submissions, while those focused on marketing and design always -- at least -- tripled that amount.

SXSW 2014 will be held March 7 to 16 in Austin, Texas.