Virtual Reality (VR) technology is becoming more mainstream, with new uses popping up across different industries every day. I own a VR headset myself, but I mostly use it to fly through city buildings or explore alien planets. Others have gotten into VR workouts, which—aside from being fun and interactive—have proven to be as effective as real-life workouts, says the Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise.
As more people own VR headsets, there is an increased need for corporations, from retail to tech, to learn the intricacies of the VR world. Today, you can already try on Nike shoes without leaving your apartment, and then move on to your grocery store, or even walk into your bank branch. Recently, JPMorgan became the first bank to open a bank branch in metaverse’s Decentraland. The bank forecasts that the metaverse will infiltrate most industries with a market opportunity estimated over $1 trillion in yearly revenues. Other big companies, including Sony, HTC, and Valve, have also joined the VR race with hopes of creating their own digital worlds.
So how can VR tech be used in public relations? Here are 4 ways VR will impact our industry:
- Virtual Meetings
Video calls and Zoom meetings became the new norm in the past two years. But the constant video chats have been proven to reduce focus and result in participants feeling exhausted (“Zoom fatigue”).
VR meetings may change that, thanks to their immersive nature. The technology provides a real-life meeting environment, creating a more engaging atmosphere. No more worrying about your background, dress code, or hairstyle. Microsoft is already working on Microsoft Mesh—its own version of VR meeting software—already available in a limited free preview.
For the PR space specifically, meeting up with clients in a virtual environment could help enhance your messaging, and “meet” your clients wherever they may be. The same goes for your employees, who usually have dozens of video calls in a day. Recreating your office space for those who work from home could help them feel more connected to the rest of the team.
Companies are actively testing VR in their employee training programs, and so far, are seeing high engagement, efficiency, and focus metrics across the board. For example, Walmart said, “associates that took VR training reported 30% higher satisfaction compared to traditional training, and the VR trainees scored higher on content tests most of the time.” Along with these benefits, Walmart noted that 90 minutes of classroom training can be completed in 20 minutes using one of their VR immersive training programs. PWC is another supporter of VR technology; the company released a report noting the benefits of VR learning and training.
In PR, virtual reality can be utilized to train not only your associates but also your clients, by providing real-life media training or conference preparation, as well as emulating real-life interview environments.
In a lot of ways, PR is all about telling a compelling story. VR has the potential to make your client’s story even more engaging and unique, by allowing the customers (and journalists) to “experience” the product or even be transported to your client’s headquarters or location of interest to bring those stories to life.
And of course, telling your own story in VR is bound to catch the attention of tech-savvy organizations and publications – especially while it is still in the early stages.
Today, companies across industries are increasingly aiming to reduce their eco-footprints and be as sustainable as possible. Even celebrities are avoiding too many private flights after recent criticism trending on social media.
VR tech has the potential to help companies reduce pollution by limiting air and land travel, without disrupting business activities. Major conferences or meetings can be held virtually. Even daily commutes can be eliminated by creating a digital office which still provides a more immersive work environment. This would be a significant step forward for both PR agencies and their clients in becoming more sustainable and reducing carbon footprints.
VR is constantly evolving and very soon it will impact every sector. Companies are already searching for VR experts to guide them through this space. PR agencies have a unique opportunity today to position themselves at the forefront of this evolution, while it is still in the early stages of development.