At recent conference for communications professionals, I had the opportunity to sit in on a really inspiring session about the confluence of public relations and virtual reality. Neither is a new concept, but combining them to create a really powerful experience is. So new that few professionals (if any) are doing it…yet.
So, what’s the big deal?
For starters, anytime most of us can work virtual reality into our jobs, that’s pretty cool. But more practically, we’re talking about leveraging an existing, and increasingly accessible, technology to not only make our jobs easier and more effective, but to make our target audiences’ jobs easier, too. Think about it this way: news rooms are shrinking and remaining staff are being pulled in more directions than ever before. That means our pitches need to work harder, and be more unique, just to break through the clutter. Now, imagine taking a pitch to the next level by giving the reporter the tools they need to be immersed in the experience you are pitching. Instead of relying on a colorful description and maybe some static pictures, the reporter could see for themselves (sort of) what it is you’re pitching. It could be a new vacation spot, an institution of higher learning, a cutting edge clinical setting – the possibilities are many.
Sounds amazing, but are you wondering how difficult this must be to pull off?
It’s actually not. With about $15, some basic programming skills (like the kind you can teach yourself with a few hours of YouTube) and some patience (not available on YouTube), just about anyone can do this. There are a number of free/low cost software options out there that can be used to create an environment realistic enough to make the reporter want to experience it in real life. Remember, the ultimate goal is to get the reporter to the real world destination, so making it too realistic might just prevent them from doing so! Once you’ve created your virtual reality masterpiece, send the download instructions to the reporter, along with a Google Cardboard (that’s where the $15 comes in), and hope they find it as cool as you do. They’ll need access to a smartphone with the ability to download VR software, but most current models have this capability.
Why stop at the media?
This idea could easily be used for other audiences. Interested in showing what makes your product better than the competitors? How about bringing the buyer to your manufacturing space to show them how your process makes a better product. Or invite that MBA candidate to sit in on a class. Or walk a home buyer through a property from 3,000 miles away.
Soon enough, we’ll be making this practice…a reality.