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.

Paxahau Website Screenshot

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.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010 at 1:16 PM and is filed under Content Strategy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
  • http://www.finalfiveproductions.com Matthew Dibble

    Wow… what a fantastic video and fantastic story… How had I not seen that before?
    That’s a “spark” type video.

    • http://fryinginvein.com Hubert Sawyers III

      Hey Matt,
      I wouldn’t have found it if I were not LOOKING for it. I didn’t want to look like a fool with my suggestions, so I did my research. There’s plenty of good stuff out there connected to the Paxahau brand. They just need to do a better job of promoting it.

      Thanks for your comment!

  • http://www.finalfiveproductions.com Matthew Dibble

    Wow… what a fantastic video and fantastic story… How had I not seen that before?
    That’s a “spark” type video.

    • http://fryinginvein.com Hubert Sawyers III

      Hey Matt,
      I wouldn’t have found it if I were not LOOKING for it. I didn’t want to look like a fool with my suggestions, so I did my research. There’s plenty of good stuff out there connected to the Paxahau brand. They just need to do a better job of promoting it.

      Thanks for your comment!

  • http://DanteLaSalle.com Dante LaSalle

    constructive criticism & mutually beneficial goals..
    cooperation is cool.
    that being said, Thank You Paxahau for keeping the festival going, this music is vital to the city and the city’s notoriety globally, and Movement has become the cornerstone of that notoriety
    I can see how some of Huberts suggestions could further the mission that Paxahau has taken on.

  • http://DanteLaSalle.com Dante LaSalle

    constructive criticism & mutually beneficial goals..
    cooperation is cool.
    that being said, Thank You Paxahau for keeping the festival going, this music is vital to the city and the city’s notoriety globally, and Movement has become the cornerstone of that notoriety
    I can see how some of Huberts suggestions could further the mission that Paxahau has taken on.

  • http://www.themadisonmediagroup.com Erica Vandenberg

    This is cool Hubert. I didn’t realize they were local! Granted, I am not big in the music scene but I had never heard of the company before seeing their signs at #movement. They need more PR! With the rising popularity of Movement it shouldn’t be hard to get their name out there more. Kudos to them for throwing a great event this past weekend and kudos to you for wanting to help them grow more!

    • http://fryinginvein.com Hubert Sawyers III

      Hey Erica, thanks for your comment!
      I definitely want to see Paxahau continue to succeed with this event. As they grow, I feel that they can potentially expand into other spaces that relate to electronic music, but they would have to be a bit more transparent for people to embrace that.

  • http://www.themadisonmediagroup.com Erica Vandenberg

    This is cool Hubert. I didn’t realize they were local! Granted, I am not big in the music scene but I had never heard of the company before seeing their signs at #movement. They need more PR! With the rising popularity of Movement it shouldn’t be hard to get their name out there more. Kudos to them for throwing a great event this past weekend and kudos to you for wanting to help them grow more!

    • http://fryinginvein.com Hubert Sawyers III

      Hey Erica, thanks for your comment!
      I definitely want to see Paxahau continue to succeed with this event. As they grow, I feel that they can potentially expand into other spaces that relate to electronic music, but they would have to be a bit more transparent for people to embrace that.

  • http://djmeph.net DJ Meph

    Talk about a breakdown in communications, Paxahau is actively stifling communication at their festival in the most hypocritical way. On Saturday, I came to the festival with about 50 flyers and 7 CDs of my own promo material to share with people I met. Like many people, I go to the festival for much more than just the great live performances. I go there to meet with people from around the world and network with people who have the same interests as I do. When I tried to enter the festival on Saturday, I was turned away by security because I’m apparently not allowed to bring my promo items in with me.

    One of the biggest points of criticism against Paxahau is their perceived image as a corporate, non-engaged profit hound. Despite this image, many of us still attend the festival giving Paxahau the benefit of the doubt. We understand that it takes a level of professionality to successfully pull off an event like this, and they have been successful. We complain that we have to pay to attend the festival, that we’re not allowed to bring water in, and that we have to pay $3 for a bottle of water once we’re there, and so on. Their no CD and flyer policy goes too far. I guarantee that most, if not all of Paxahau’s DJs used past festivals to promote themselves. Arguably, none of them would be where they are now if they hadn’t had the opportunity to connect with people with similar interests at past festivals. It’s not just wrong, it’s hypocritical. It’s an outrage, and we should speak up about this.

    I would recommend that Paxahau take a look at the South-by-Southwest festival as a great example. (A festival that is probably 10x more successful than Movement) The premise of their festival is to encourage and support connections between fans, artists, and everyone in between. This would be a great model to follow.

  • http://djmeph.net DJ Meph

    Talk about a breakdown in communications, Paxahau is actively stifling communication at their festival in the most hypocritical way. On Saturday, I came to the festival with about 50 flyers and 7 CDs of my own promo material to share with people I met. Like many people, I go to the festival for much more than just the great live performances. I go there to meet with people from around the world and network with people who have the same interests as I do. When I tried to enter the festival on Saturday, I was turned away by security because I’m apparently not allowed to bring my promo items in with me.

    One of the biggest points of criticism against Paxahau is their perceived image as a corporate, non-engaged profit hound. Despite this image, many of us still attend the festival giving Paxahau the benefit of the doubt. We understand that it takes a level of professionality to successfully pull off an event like this, and they have been successful. We complain that we have to pay to attend the festival, that we’re not allowed to bring water in, and that we have to pay $3 for a bottle of water once we’re there, and so on. Their no CD and flyer policy goes too far. I guarantee that most, if not all of Paxahau’s DJs used past festivals to promote themselves. Arguably, none of them would be where they are now if they hadn’t had the opportunity to connect with people with similar interests at past festivals. It’s not just wrong, it’s hypocritical. It’s an outrage, and we should speak up about this.

    I would recommend that Paxahau take a look at the South-by-Southwest festival as a great example. (A festival that is probably 10x more successful than Movement) The premise of their festival is to encourage and support connections between fans, artists, and everyone in between. This would be a great model to follow.

  • http://www.lostsci.com Walter Glasshouse (Daniel Bret

    Nice work Hubert, This is the type of thing that can really put a shot in the arm of the ailing electronic music community in Detroit. I attended the festival all three days, and even tried to stimulate the downtown economy a bit by getting a room at the ren-cen for a night.. I will tip my hat to the production of the event itself, although a bit predictable in the way of headliners. Don’t get me wrong , I loove the legends, but you can only see the same five DJ’s so many times before it brings a stale taste to the techno-mouth. I did like seeing fring-acts such as Francesco Tristano, and for my money Robert Hood coulda played for 6 hours, instead of the 1 hour of terrible acoustics he was subject to (thanks to the underground stage)… I understand that everyone has there own preferences, but the lack of HOUSE music in general at the festival is a shame…

    As far as the Paxahau brand goes, it is not that Paxahau does not care about retaining it’s fans, it just seems that they don’t always streamline there brand to one specific area on the web. It is scattered in fragmented pieces, which makes it a task for the average person to find, leaving only the uber-interested with a clue… Thankfully YOU Hubert, as well as other friends in this community are uber-interested and do a good job of trying to forge the fragmentation into blogs dedicated to the music… I.E. (fryinginvein.com, detroittechnohouse.com) As I have stated before, I am a memebr of this community, and I WOULD LOVE TO SEE MORE THAN JUST ONE WEEKEND A YEAR GIVEN TO SHOWCASE THIS BEAUTIFUL PLACE WE CALL DETROIT!!! seacrest out!

    • BOB

      This company is only about MAKING MONEY !!!!! OR HOOKING FRIENDS UP WITH JOBS. JASON IS A JERK (OWNER OF PAXAHAU)

  • http://www.lostsci.com Walter Glasshouse (Daniel Brett)

    Nice work Hubert, This is the type of thing that can really put a shot in the arm of the ailing electronic music community in Detroit. I attended the festival all three days, and even tried to stimulate the downtown economy a bit by getting a room at the ren-cen for a night.. I will tip my hat to the production of the event itself, although a bit predictable in the way of headliners. Don’t get me wrong , I loove the legends, but you can only see the same five DJ’s so many times before it brings a stale taste to the techno-mouth. I did like seeing fring-acts such as Francesco Tristano, and for my money Robert Hood coulda played for 6 hours, instead of the 1 hour of terrible acoustics he was subject to (thanks to the underground stage)… I understand that everyone has there own preferences, but the lack of HOUSE music in general at the festival is a shame…

    As far as the Paxahau brand goes, it is not that Paxahau does not care about retaining it’s fans, it just seems that they don’t always streamline there brand to one specific area on the web. It is scattered in fragmented pieces, which makes it a task for the average person to find, leaving only the uber-interested with a clue… Thankfully YOU Hubert, as well as other friends in this community are uber-interested and do a good job of trying to forge the fragmentation into blogs dedicated to the music… I.E. (fryinginvein.com, detroittechnohouse.com) As I have stated before, I am a memebr of this community, and I WOULD LOVE TO SEE MORE THAN JUST ONE WEEKEND A YEAR GIVEN TO SHOWCASE THIS BEAUTIFUL PLACE WE CALL DETROIT!!! seacrest out!