Opinion: Bristol tech could change PR forever

OggaDoon's Emily Perkins shares her ideas about the future of PR and the Bristol tech organisations that could help to shape it
17th December 2018

PR is all about being ahead of the game. There are traditional tactics that we’ll always rely on, because they work (at least right now), but when it comes to getting your brand name out there, you want to think about how you can do things differently.

This is a challenge that will be unique for every brand or business, but for those who have already cottoned on, the future of PR – providing a real, valuable experience – is happening now. If you haven’t noticed, now’s the time to catch up.

One of the biggest tech trends in the past year has been VR and AR. You may immediately think of this tech’s contribution to entertainment – most notably gaming headsets. The film industry has started using VR in films, and home VR headsets mean trailers could be watched from our living rooms to give a real sense of what the cinema experience will be. How much easier will it be for events promoters to sell tickets if you can get an immediate sense of the atmosphere by donning on your VR headset?

From there, it’s not such a great leap to see how this could help your product marketing.

Furniture stores have been one of the first to jump on the trend with AR apps that casts images of products over your live camera so you can see how they would look in your home. Not only does this make online shopping so much easier, but it can help you fit items into place before they’ve even arrived, so if you’re shopping for a new sofa, you can scan your living room to see where it looks best.

Who wouldn’t want to increase their sales conversions by offering this clever type of tech, easily downloadable through an app? Although it may feel a tad like a gimmick, gimmicks work. It’s why they stay in the mind, and why product managers need to sit up and take notice.

Bristol-based Ultrahaptics has developed a groundbreaking AR produce that allowed users to feel soundwaves. This kind of tech, which has already been applied to car controls, self-service machines, and smart home developments, could be applied to online shopping.

Imagine feeling how soft that cashmere jumper really is, before you commit to buy. Why wait to see if that shirt really is silk? Feel the balance of a new set of golf clubs, or go wild and virtually test bubble wrap to your heart’s content.

And it doesn’t stop at products. Walk around your potential new home, try out a hotel in another country, and see whether that car really is big enough for three in the back. Products, services, and experiences can all now be tested through virtual reality before you move an inch.

So what’s next? Taste before you buy? We’d love to be able to try new products without making a trip to the supermarket!

Marketing and public relations have never stood still, but I truly believe that we’re on the edge of something really exciting. Here in Bristol, I’m not alone: the Bristol VR Labs are exploring the plethora of uses that VR could be used for.

As for me? I’ll draw the line at a virtual cider at the end of the week, but I certainly wouldn’t say no to attending parts of Glastonbury through a VR lens…