Here’s looking at you – Cardboard reshapes communication

Written by Catherine Arrow, FPRINZ, Unlocked PR

It’s just a piece of cardboard. But it is probably the smartest piece of cardboard I’ve folded up for a long time. And it is a piece of cardboard that really should get you rethinking - or at least assessing - the effectiveness of your digital strategy.

My Knoxlabs Google Cardboard headset arrived last month and I’ve been swiftly transported into a world of augmented and virtual reality. There are many other players including Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, which starts shipping at the end of March, and Samsung Gear VR to name but two. The geeky headsets might look like just another a gamer’s dream, with the sceptical dismissing it as the latest fad, particularly given virtual reality has been promising much for so long. This, however, is the year it looks set to deliver.

The headsets work with your smartphones (some being more compatible than others) so instead of me watching a video of you having a great time on your trip to Queenstown, using virtual reality I can share your experience. Or if I want to learn more about an aspect of your trip, I might switch to augmented reality for that extra layer of rich media information. Fun - but so what?

Instead, as public relations and communication professionals, I challenge you to reframe the question and ask ‘so what can we do with this’?

After all, why should I bother engaging with you on social media, or clicking away on your non-responsive website if in (virtual) reality I can make immediate personal contact with you, experience your world and find out all I need to know at the same time?

A long time ago, when YouTube was a newborn, blogging was the thing and Twitter was a glimmer in Jack Dorsey’s eye, delegates on PRINZ courses, clients and others would ask me why on earth would anyone want to bother with all this internet stuff. They wondered how they would convince their organisations that communication was changing and that organisations had to be ready to adapt - and it’s not unfair to say that many leadership teams still need convincing ten years on. Well, if the 2006 communications revolution upset your digital applecart, hang on tight because the 2016 shift to virtual and augmented interaction is going to radically change your organisation’s operational direction.

Even at the lowest level of implementation, your digital strategy will need to adjust to both inform and support your organisational outcomes, taking heed of the changes and relaying how those changes will affect your processes, services and - at the heart of what we do - the relationships you need to maintain your licence to operate.

The cumbersome - but awesome - new wearables bring with them enormous scope and huge opportunity for excellence in communications and relationship development. Here’s hoping you're leading the charge and are cut out for what is to come.

Catherine Arrow, FPRINZ, will be presenting a course on this topic 'Advanced Digital Strategy' in Auckland, register here.