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The Brand Ambassador’s Guide to SXSW

SXSW is an event that every brand ambassador dreams of working.  The atmosphere is electric and the vibe is unbelievable.  For those of you who want to cross this epic event off your brand ambassador bucket list, we’ve put together some helpful tips that will help you secure your dream gig while having the time of your life.

How to Book SXSW Gigs if You’re Not Local to Austin

You don’t have to be a local in order to work SXSW.  With a game plan in place, you can secure a SXSW gig no matter where you live.

  • Make travel arrangements before you start applying for SXSW events.   This includes transportation and accommodations.  Many agency account managers can be leery of traveling brand ambassadors, but as long as you can provide proof of your arrangements, that will give them confidence in their decision to book you.  If you plan on driving to Austin, have a backup plan in place – rental car or other means of transportation – if your vehicle decides that it doesn’t want to make the trip.
  • Add Austin, TX to your list of locations on all your brand ambassador agency profiles. This way, when jobs become available, you’ll be in the know.
  • If you are an established brand ambassador and work for a number of agencies, reach out to your agency contacts and let them know that you are available to work at SXSW.
  • Check the Austin Facebook BA groups and SXSW groups to check for job announcements daily – even when SXSW is in full swing.
  • If you don’t have a gig secured, you still have a pretty good chance of working. Many, many agencies seek last-minute staff at SXSW for several reasons and will email blast their Austin talent and/or post jobs online.  Be on top of things and ready to go even at the last minute.

If you’re local to Austin, you should be able to land a SXSW gig with no problems.  Just make sure you do your due diligence when applying for gigs and communicating with agencies.

SXSW Brand Ambassador Tips

  • Program your agency contact’s phone number into your phone as well as the on-site contact.
  • Don’t drive anywhere.  Parking and traffic can be a nightmare and you’ll never make it to your event on time.  Here are some great insider tips on how to get around during SXSW.  These ideas will save you a ton of time and will get you where you need to go.
  • Do a trial run.  Prior to your first shift, physically visit where your brand activation will take place or your meeting spot. This way, you know what to expect in terms of getting there and approximately (give or take) how long it will take you.  Also, locate the nearest restroom and eateries, so you’ll know where to go when you have a break.
  • Arrive 15 minutes prior to your event shift start time.  Your event manager and agency rep will be thrilled.
  • Stay healthy by drinking plenty of water and eating well-balanced meals and healthy snacks.  The days and nights are long, and you’ll need to properly fuel your body.  Stay away from the booze…you’ll thank us later.
  • Take a refillable water bottle to say hydrated throughout your shift.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.  Ten- and twelve-hour shifts can be brutal on your body.  Invest in a comfortable pair of shoes that can get you through the day.
  • Pack a survival kit with sunscreen, lip balm, pain reliever, extra socks, a rain poncho, and a phone power bank.
  • Pack a change of clothes.  If you plan to go out after your shift, you will need to change out of your branded uniform (most agencies and clients require this).
  • Don’t stay out late partying.  The temptation is certainly there, but you’ll regret it with that 8 AM call time.
  • Be sure to get a good night’s sleep.  It will leave you refreshed and recharged for your next shift.
  • Once you’ve committed to an event, do NOT bail out for a higher paying event, especially at the last minute.  SXSW is highly competitive, and it’s stressful for account managers.  If you bail, word will spread like wildfire and chances are you’ll get blacklisted from that agency and possibly others (agencies talk, too).  Don’t ruin your reputation with multiple agencies over a few dollars.
  • Ask your on-site contact or event manager if there is anything you can help with before you leave.  This speaks volumes and your dedication won’t go unnoticed.
  • Don’t disappear or take unapproved breaks.  Your event manager will have a break schedule for you.   Follow their lead when it comes to your breaks and don’t give any push back if doesn’t meet your desired schedule.  If you absolutely must take a break when you are not scheduled, let your event manager know your issue and offer to forego your next scheduled break.
  • Do treat every attendee like they are the client.  You never know when or where a client rep may show up.
  • Last but not least, have fun!  SXSW is an amazing experience and one that you will remember for the rest of your life.  Take in all that Austin has to offer if you have any downtime (or stay for an extra day).  On the last day, celebrate with your experience with your fellow brand ambassadors and new friends (out of uniform of course).


Brand Ambassadors of SXSW

Brand Ambassadors of Austin

SXSW:  Where to Stay

SXSW Survival Guide

ATN Event Staffing hires brand ambassadors and promotional staff for some of the hottest brands at SXSW!  If you are interested in receiving updates, be sure to create a talent profile with us (add Austin to your location list) and we’ll keep you informed of any openings that we have!

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Brand Ambassadors SXSW

*This post was originally published in February, 2019 and has been updated.