The start of a new year is always exciting.
Thinking about the future fills me with hopeful anticipation. When I look at my calendar, I see months and months full of new possibilities, and my imagination runs wild with ideas for new projects. Of course, I envision them all wildly successful—and I’m sure I’m not alone.
One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot lately has been how quickly the PR industry is evolving. As discussed in The Future of PR Is Now, the industry has become several things many of us might not have imagined 5 years ago.
As I started picturing what the industry would be in another 5 years, I immediately started thinking about the ways changing technology has impacted the practice of public relations.
More tools have become available, leading to new opportunities to reach entirely new and growing audiences with our brand messages. And right now is an exciting time for new technology, as we start to experiment with things that seem right out of a sci-fi movie—wearables, the Internet of Things, virtual reality, and who knows what else.
Our audiences are rapidly adopting new technology, and PR pros must be ready. Luckily, there are things we can do now that will prepare us for an influx of new tools—even if we aren’t ready to host our next press conference or media interview via hologram.
As far as new technology goes, the ability to create interactive content is not particularly new. PR pros should be embracing this updated type of multimedia content as a more modern way to share brand messages.
From choose-your-own-adventure style infographics to interactive quizzes, the press release of the future is going to bring “engagement” to an entirely new level. This sort of content will allow your audiences to truly experience your news, making them take immediate action and therefore increasing their interest in your product, service, or brand.
Imagine creating an interactive representation of your new product that allows viewers to click on different parts of the product for a closer view and explanation of its functionalities. Or maybe you have a timeline that describes the history of your brand, where viewers can expand different points to see how your product line has evolved over time.
While a lot of interactive multimedia like this already exists, it’s fun to imagine how technology will continue to evolve in ways that will allow us to foster audience engagement.
DO IT NOW: First, you must invest in multimedia to accompany your brand communications. Images and video make for a more interactive experience, giving your readers something to click on and view in conjunction with a press release. Or, consider writing a simple quiz, like the one outlined in our post Content We Love: A Twist on the “Top Tips” List That’ll Make You Paws.
From Google Glass to the Apple Watch, we are rapidly finding that the information we want is literally at our hands in an instant. We’re entering a world where we can know more, see more, and share more with hardly any effort.
As the adoption of wearable technology and the Internet of Things continues to increase, we will each be constantly dialed into technology, exchanging information back and forth in real time. The broad acceptance of these types of devices will force us to rethink our communications and tailor them as much as possible, considering constantly evolving methods of delivery and very specific targeting to individuals’ needs, interests, or even location.
Although the idea of an ever-connected and always-on society raises many questions and challenges we can’t yet answer, it can be quite fun to imagine the endless possibilities. Will your next video release be playing on someone’s watch?
DO IT NOW: Consider how your communications can be optimized for delivery over different types of technology. Craft short messages that can be read or shared quickly on shrinking screens. Don’t ignore social media as a way to engage audiences in real time. Find ways to tell your story that will resonate with individual audiences, so it’s as tailored and personalized as possible. Learn how to effectively use social media, formatting, multimedia and reporting to transform your press releases.
The first time I tried virtual reality, I took a rollercoaster ride through a refrigerator. I had a 360-degree view of fruits, vegetables, dairy, and more.
This immersive experience provided an entirely different perspective of something fairly commonplace, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t go home and look in my own refrigerator and imagine what it would have been like to ride a rollercoaster past my own applesauce and coconut milk.
Some companies are already finding clever uses for virtual reality. Brands such as The North Face have created virtual experiences that are available to their customers. Media organizations like The New York Times are developing VR content that puts subscribers in a news story in ways we could have only imagined a few years ago.
Imagine how a virtual tour of your new office or facility–where your audience can guide themselves through different spaces to see your company in action–can facilitate brand awareness.
What about VR b-roll? As more traditional media outlets adopt the technology, will this type of footage soon be commonplace in media kits?
If you had the ability to interact with your audience anywhere and at any time, what would you say? Where would you take them? What could you show them about your brand? The prospect of using virtual reality for communications is fascinating.
DO IT NOW: While apps and devices such as Google Cardboard make VR more accessible to users, developing experiences for these platforms might still be beyond your reach. In the meantime, think about how you can create an immersive experience in other ways. If a virtual tour of your new facility isn’t possible, you can still show it off in images or video. Experiment with animation or audio as a way to transport your audience somewhere else. Hone your storytelling skills and send out creative and engaging press releases.
Of course, technology is only one part of the PR equation. If the story you’re telling isn’t interesting, the delivery method will only get you so far.