VR in PR - using new technologies

Yesterday evening I attended a CIPR event on using virtual reality (VR) technology in PR, hosted by creative agency, Holdens.

Based in Manchester's Northern Quarter, Holdens is a full-service creative agency that focuses on building, elevating and amplifying people-powered brands. 

From branding, interiors and websites to social media, video and VR, the agency takes a holistic and strategic approach to creating 360° brand experiences that engage people. 

VR technology is rapidly growing in sophistication, as is consumer appetite for the experience -  industry analyst International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts the headset market will hit 81.2 million units by 2021, so it was great to head over to Holdens to learn more about how we can use both VR and AR in PR and marketing campaigns.

George Bennett, Project lead on VR and AR at Holdens, provided an overview of the technology, outlining its 'superpowers' and the value it can bring to a well-thought out campaign; changing behaviour, driving engagement and boosting shareability.

We also learned about the differences between passive and active VR experiences, the latter created with vibration, warmth, cold, wind and hydraulics. There is also huge variation in the spec of headsets available on the market.

It was really interesting to see examples of VR and AR experiences successfully delivered by brands - I've included links here for you to see for yourself. The Old Irish example is my personal favourite!

George also addressed the ROI delivered by impactful VR experiences - one that stood out was an experience created by a charity for a fundraising dinner. They took people 'inside' a refugee camp - donations on the evening rose significantly. I've included a link to a similar approach utilised by Unicef, along with the 'Clouds over Sidra' experience which can be viewed using Google Cardboard.

Old Irish - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3R5J8Je2j_4

Unicef - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uslhlXyYJ-M

Clouds over Sidra - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUosdCQsMkM

Along with VR, there is also opportunity to influence sales and behaviour using AR - Ikea is just one example of a brand that has used AR to drive sales. Its "Place" app offers consumers the chance to preview furniture in their home, to scale, before they buy. 

There's no doubt that both VR and AR offer brands a powerful platform via which to communicate messages and encourage a deeper level of engagement. 

George advised, "Brands must become providers of experiences to win in the age of experience."

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-wearing-white-virtual-reality-goggles-834949/









Emma McCallum