Virtual Reality: An Opportunity for Public Relations
Although Virtual Reality (VR) sounds like a bridge too far for some people, it has recently become more commonplace, not only for consumers but also for businesses. Think about Google Cardboard, but also Samsung Gear VR and HTC Vive Headset, that offer affordable ways to experiment with VR.
The potential of virtual reality as an experimental storytelling platform has many brands already experimenting with the possibilities. The technique is being adopted across industries, not only for its commercial value, but also because it can help stimulate learning and has the ability to connect products to experiences. The North Face is a good example of a company that started using VR for this last function. They shot footage of a climb in Yosemite National Park, which was turned into a VR experience for shoppers at its retail outlets in New York and San Francisco.
'Daylight experience' by Velux
Europe also has plenty examples of companies that use VR, such as Velux, a Danish company that specializes in roof windows and skylights. They applied VR to help consumers get an impression of the potential of their attic, by showing how a room could look with more daylight with the help of a roof window. Without VR, imagining the impact of Velux’ solutions on a room is hard to do, so the VR experience really helped (potential) customers to get a first look.
Six powerful reasons to start with VR
Marketing has embraced the opportunities that VR can offer, seeing the potential to empower marketing communication initiatives. Of course there are challenges, however in the eyes of MSLGroup (a public relations network of companies) there are six powerful reasons for PR professionals to start diving into it right now:
Longer engagement time: VR has already proved that it can hold people’s attention for an extensive amount of time.
Deeper emotional engagement: VR makes consumers part of the brand experience as VR has the unique opportunity to offer an immersive experience that will stay with users forever.
Increased trust: VR helps replicate the communication and transmission of sophisticated human cues that build trust: direct eye contact, a strong presence and compassion.
Simplifying the complex: In VR users interact in a way that allows for a much more comprehensive and holistic understanding of the concept.
Greater devotion: VR helps in creating a stronger devotion to the brand, since it gives you the experience that you are really a part of it.
Condensed sales cycle: VR can be used to jump-start a consumer experience when it’s difficult or impossible to introduce the product itself.
Virtual reality underlines that a linear storyline is no longer a must, creating an interactive experience is. How do you go about it for your brand? Hiring a professional team that is experienced in using VR might be a good idea. But doing some research and testing out what your audience likes could also be the way to go. Android phones and iPhones are already equipped with cameras and video players that support 360° video. Using a simple branded holder to create a nice VR experience for your clients, is just a little extra step to take. Look at this great example of TOMS shoes, are there ways you can support your brand story using VR? You probably can!
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