At this time of year there are two certainties in PR, being exposed to awful karaoke at the office party and seeing a swathe of articles predicting the five trends that will change PR next year. Actually, make that three certainties as you can guarantee one of those trends will be Virtual Reality.
Pretty much every business can prepare itself now to be pitched VR ideas in 2016. Google Cardboard has made a decent VR experience possible and cheap, and people are starting to be more regularly exposed to the technology. For example, Attenborough’s new documentary on the Great Barrier Reef coming this Christmas will have a VR experience allowing people the chance to dive the reef alongside the man himself.
The current iteration of VR looks likely to be a winner and when used to give people extra experiences around a nature documentary, Game of Thrones or the latest video game then it makes very good sense.
It will make less sense when someone pitches a virtual reality factory tour to a tyre manufacturer.
Anyone who has run brand social media channels will know it’s hard enough to get people to act on what you’re offering them, even when that action might only involve a few clicks. If you expect people to don a VR headset, drop their phone into it and spend 10 minutes touring your chain of budget hotels on the Costa Del Sol then you’re living in your own reality.
The right VR idea for the right brand will no doubt result in some great campaigns. It’s easy to imagine the likes of Red Bull, Lego and Spotify creating great experiences people want to enjoy. For clients in a less glamorous business VR can still work, but only if the idea provides a creative solution to your customers’ needs, rather than just turning what you do into a VR experience no one wants to watch.
A VR idea will be coming to pitch near you next year. Some ideas will be good, lots will be terrible. But maybe less of the latter if people remember the word ‘reality’ when they come up with it.