If I Were Paxahau’s Chief Communications Officer (CCO)

The 2010 Movement festival has come and gone. For most of us, it was a whirlwind of a weekend. I am still recovering from the two days I went downtown to partake. There were highs (Martinez Brothers (thanks K!) and Kraak & Smaak) and there were lows (Hudson Mohawke’s no-show and not being able to see Plastikman). All in all, it was a solid job by the event production crew that is Paxahau. I tip my hat to them.

As some of you may have read my open letter to Paxahau, you may find the last sentence a bit interesting. Since posting the letter, I have had some compelling discussions and received a lot of constructive feedback from many in Detroit’s electronic community at home and abroad. It has always been my position that Paxahau is the preeminent leader in the community from whence they emerged. With that leadership, I feel they have a certain responsibility to its community. As an admitted outsider, it would seem that Paxahau has not been very active as community leaders, but after talking to some insiders, I am of the understanding that they do plenty. Problem is, it is not helping them if only a few people are aware of their positive work beyond the festival.

I have some ideas on how they can patch this hole. Imagine, if you will, as if I were responsible for handling Paxahau’s communication efforts. For the moment, consider me the Chief Communications Officer, CCO or Director of Communications at Paxahau. My initiatives as CCO are going to address the following issues:

  • Misinformed / misdirected troll fire
  • Lack of genuine local community support
  • An under-educated community on the Paxahau brand

By acknowledging these issues, as CCO, it is clear that we need to take control of the Paxahau brand message, as well as build up stronger organic word-of-mouth for future Paxahau events.

Before I lay out my tactics, check out this video:

As an aside, this video is the third of three retrospective pieces on the Detroit Techno and the Electronic Music Festival titled Stability. It is this video that gives me faith, even as an imaginary CCO, that Paxahau truly has the right vision for the electronic music festival in the city of Detroit. It is my belief that they should do a better job of communicating this to their respective community.

As Paxahau CCO, I would:

Use Media and the Social Web as Sword and Shield

And not just as broadcasting posts. Videos like this are edifying and they should be shared across all channels, not just on the blog. These videos can be used to start conversations, dispel myths and garner respect. Considering the festival probably secured somewhere around 100,000 patrons, videos like this should quickly see five-figure views in a short amount of time just off the buzz (no pun intended) alone.
At the moment, you can find the videos on sites separate from the Paxahau main site like DEMF.com and another site designed specifically for the Movement festival. In terms of branding, I would try to keep everything together in one place and always connected to the Paxahau brand.

Social networking sites like Twitter should not just be used to post information when there are so many people with questions and comments that relate to your brand. There should be a concerted effort to be a trusted source amongst the electronic music community. Proper engagement can solidify connections with potential brand evangelists and turn trollish characters into pacified grumps.

Have the Website User Interface Refixed to Focus on Building Community

The screenshot above is how the Paxahau website looks on my 13″ MacBook monitor, using Google Chrome. When looking at the site, my eyes are drawn to the Movement festival and after-party flyers. Now I may click on the items and go where you want to drive me, but there is one thing you are not getting out of me – my contact info. The “Join Paxahau for exclusive content” button is far too busy for my eyes to really pay attention to what it says. I actually had to scroll down in order to see the sign-up form that I was comfortable with to actually give my information. I would bring that recognizable form to show in the initial view or change the button to be drive more action.
Mind you, I have no information on how many member sign-ups Paxahau has currently, nor am I considering any past editions of the website UI. They may already have a robust roster of sign-ups. If that is the case, then I shall move onto the following with gusto.

Position Paxahau as a Passionate Player

While I know that Paxahau is a curator of quality electronic music, I never consider looking to Paxahau for finding what is new and/or hot. Using myself as an example, as a music discovery agent, if you are not reaching me, then I know you are missing out on others. When aligning yourself with other events outside of the Movement, there should be consideration on who will be in the demographic. Of course, that is basic marketing and PR, but with the lack of understanding of Paxahau and their role in the community, this needs to be amplified. It may need to be done something simply by increasing the amount of events that Paxahau supports. The events do not just have to be concerts either. Supporting charities that promote the advancement of electronic music, sponsoring successful electronic music bloggers and throwing educational events are other ways this can be accomplished. The diversity in these engagements will help spread the Paxahau brand message, increasing the opportunities to implant a good feeling with the brand.

These are just my thoughts on how I would manage communication efforts for Paxahau. I am an outsider. I do not know anything of the inner-workings of the organization. I can only comment on what I witness personally and from what I gather from other onlookers like myself. I see and hear the negative talk and it is quite distressing. There does not seem to be any reason why it should be that way for such a young organization that is driven to do what they are passionate about. I would love to hear from Paxahau on how we – as a community – can help you become more successful at what you do, because the more success stories we have coming from Detroit the better. This can start today by leaving a comment here or by e-mailing me at hsawyers [at] gmail.