The Institute for Public Relations recently asked, “What does the future of the metaverse mean for PR?" I believe it’s an opportunity that needs to be seized.
Have you attended a meeting or event in the metaverse? Created a metaverse environment for a client? Built one for your own organization? Produced a metaverse conference or learning event?
If you answered no to any of these, that’s likely to change by the end of this year, according to a survey of senior communications executives.
A survey of 50 top communications executives found that PR is already taking significant strides to be an important player in what JP Morgan believes could soon be $1 trillion a year business opportunity. 70% of the PR pros who responded are discussing metaverse plans, and 45% will be working on actual metaverse projects this year.
The survey found PR pros at both agencies and brands engaging in a wide range of metaverse campaigns.
As the results show, there are significant opportunities for PR beyond multi-million-dollar immersive experiences that only few can afford. That’s one reason using the metaverse for B2B opportunities was significantly more popular than B2C events.
PR’s leadership in strategy and developing compelling messaging to draw a target audience will be vital for metaverse success. PR also has the necessary expertise to navigate tricky issues that might come up, including security and privacy. Many organizations will find that working with PR firms and their internal teams will help reduce costs and maximize impact.
Despite this, you might be thinking that PR should yield the metaverse platform to experiential marketing or other disciplines. By “owning the metaverse,” I’m not suggesting that other industries cannot do anything metaverse-related. What I am suggesting is that PR has an opportunity to seize a leadership role and shouldn’t yield that opportunity. For example, if a brand worked with an experiential marketing firm to create an environment, who is going to get that message out so key publics will know about it? PR.
In addition to live video broadcasts into metaverse environments, we are receiving inquiries to add a metaverse component to in-person conferences and, given the challenges of getting journalists to physically attend press conferences, hosting a Metaverse Press Conference (MPC). MPCs are a way for journalists to participate fully without ever physically leaving their workspaces.
As PR leaders dive deeper into the potential of the metaverse to expand their business, new opportunities will present themselves.
One of the key decisions PR leaders will be making is whether to build their own metaverse or lease space in an existing environment. A key factor is frequency of use. If you expect daily or weekly engagement, it makes sense to build your own. If you are considering a single event or two, you might want to start by utilizing existing environments.
It’s no secret that companies like Meta and Disney have struggled with the metaverse. Whatever direction you take, make sure you have a specific use in mind. Requiring expensive equipment to use the environment, apart from a video game experience, dramatically reduces the potential audience. If someone can click on a link or join a Zoom meeting, they can participate in your metaverse event.
If you run an agency, you should consider investing in your own metaverse environment, both to educate employees and host new business meetings. Let your team experiment with metaverse press conferences, learning experiences, and interactive conferences to perfect them before you bring these services to market.
For organizations, there are also internal communications opportunities. Can a metaverse environment enhance connections and engagement in the new hybrid work environment, especially when you have multiple locations around the world? Are there opportunities to enhance partnerships and reach your customers? By engaging in experimentation, you are guaranteed to develop new ideas that will benefit your organization.
From our own work on metaverse events we’ve learned that requiring equipment, such as an Oculus headset, reduces potential participants. Additionally, it isn’t practical for certain types of events such as all-day meetings or press events where attendees might not own the necessary equipment. The best and most affordable practice for these types of events allows participation as an avatar to anyone with a phone or computer and a solid internet connection.
To paraphrase the Institute for Public Relations, the future of the metaverse is here. In this time of economic uncertainty, PR can’t afford to miss out on this opportunity.
Doug Simon is CEO at D S Simon Media.