Virtual reality: the most disruptive tool for marketing and PR since social media

Virtual reality: the most disruptive tool for marketing and PR since social media

Hazel Watts

Hazel Watts

10166365646_9d9a2ea50c_zVirtual reality (VR) is the next frontier for marketing and public relations. From VR games and entertainment to the latest VR capabilities for the enterprise, there is no question that virtual reality will become more embedded in our daily lives. For marketing and PR professionals, virtual reality is the biggest disruptive technology since social media. With virtual reality, brands can offer a broad range of experiences to help consumers and influencers alike become fully immersed in a wide range of stories.

Marketing and PR professionals will use virtual reality technology to develop stories that transcend the limits of time and geography. Travel companies will duplicate the sensation of sunbathing on the beach; enterprise technology companies will simulate business scenarios where IT directors can live the benefits of a new tool; mobile phone companies will reach unprecedented numbers of people with immersive demos of new releases – and all these experiences will happen without the user having to leave their home or office.

Virtual reality is set to have its first billion-dollar year in 2016 and is on track to become worth $80 billion by 2025. At this exponential rate of growth, the future of marketing and communications will certainly become centred on virtual reality. Every marketer or PR professional will need to understand how to effectively utilise VR to remain relevant in the next decade.

With this in mind, what are some of the possibilities marketers and PRs have for integrating VR into their campaigns?

Product launches

Virtual reality will effectively simulate the experience of a live demo, creating a quick and painless process. Marketing and PR professionals will be able to offer both consumers and media influencers alike a first-hand look at new products and services without ever having to send a physical product sample. And more importantly, the demo can be guided or tailored to the end user to create more positive outcomes.

An insider’s view on events and press conferences

Consumers will have the live-event experience of a concert, show or sports match without leaving the comfort of their homes. Journalists will attend multiple press conferences and liaise with multiple brands without leaving their desks. The virtual reality simulations will enable users to drop in and out of events at their convenience while enabling brands to increase overall attendance and awareness without maxing out physical venue capacity.

Authentic in-store experiences

For retail brands that are either wholly e-commerce or lacking physical stores in target markets, virtual reality will become the missing link in building brand loyalty and delighting consumers. VR users will be able to test and try on products as if they were in a physical store. And by integrating big data insights, the virtual store can also be personalised to each consumer so that only products or services interesting to the individual will be shown on the virtual shop floor.

“Day in the life” of business leaders, celebrities and other public figures

Public figures will be closer to their audience than ever before. In the past decade, users have become more ingrained in public figures’ private lives through social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Through these tools, users have access to behind-the-scenes moments taken by their favourite celebrity, politician or business leader. Virtual reality will take this a step further – you will be able to live a day in the life of public figures through their point of view. These experiences will create more empathy and support with fans.

These examples only scratch the surface of what is possible! With big data and personalisation thrown into the mix, every brand story will become personal and uber-targeted for each and every consumer.  While it’s still early days for the VR technology itself, it’s never too early for marketers and PR professionals to begin thinking about how virtual reality can elevate a campaign into a fully integrated, immersive and comprehensive experience.

Photo credit: Sergey Galyonkin via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

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