What virtual reality could mean for communications
It seems like you can’t visit a tech website without seeing a headline about virtual reality. During Samsung’s Galaxy S7 event at the Mobile World Congress last week, an auditorium full of tech journalists wore headsets while Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg snuck in to talk about what virtual reality means for communications. It looked like a scene from the year 2050, but nope, this is 2016, folks.
Earlier this year, I vacationed in Australia and visited the National Gallery of Victoria. The museum currently has an exhibit with an artist that created a virtual reality version of his artwork.
While we waited in the queue to put on the virtual reality headsets, we watched eight people in front of us spin around in circles, wave their hands in the air and gawk at what they were seeing. Watching people experience virtual reality was almost as entertaining as the actual virtual reality.
Even so, lots of people are starting to do some incredible things with virtual reality.
I was one of the thousands that was transported to the worlds of refugee children back in November, when the New York Times released its virtual reality app with “The Displaced.”
It was captivating. It was immersive. It was moving.
All of these examples, have me excited about the possibilities of virtual reality. As a communicator, I’m also curious what this means for the public relations industry. Looking into my crystal ball, here are a few trends on how virtual reality could affect PR.
- More media outlets using VR (and PR pros helping to coordinate): Public relations pros always need to keep visuals in mind when pitching stories to journalists. Virtual reality takes it up a notch. Imagine when 60 Minutes does a story on Honda, and after the show, viewers can put on their headsets to see a 360-degree view of the factory floor.
- Brands utilizing VR on their owned channels: Virtual reality will give brands new ways to tell stories on their own channels. Like any new tool, it’s going to be done exceptionally well and just as poorly. Nonetheless, VR is going to be an incredible tool to help connect brands with consumers.
- A more immersive social experience: How many times you have you wished you could see first-hand the city a Facebook friend is traveling to on vacation? With virtual reality, you can. It has the potential to make vacation, sporting events and festivals so much more exciting
As communicators, we’re naturally gifted storytellers. There’s a strong opportunity for the PR industry to embrace virtual reality as a valuable marketing channel.
I’m going to place a bet: In the next three years, I will hear a client or new business prospect ask, “How can we make a virtual reality experience?” I can’t wait to make it happen.