Lily Eng
News & Views
The realities of Virtual Reality for PR

Last year at a client event showcasing new and fun technology, I tried on a virtual reality headset. My particular virtual reality playbook featured a basketball game, a quick spin around a racecar track and a rap concert. I thought augmented reality still had years to go, and from what I had read, the technology was still in its infancy, so I was expecting a bit of a lark.

In a matter of seconds, I was THERE – spinning in the middle of a basketball court, elbow to elbow with other players looking for the ball; then hanging on for dear life while the racecar driver to my left put the pedal to the metal, speeding up to 200 mph. Finally, standing alongside with other fans at a crowded concert that rattled my ears and forced me to blink to adjust to the flashing bright lights on the virtual stage. As soon as I took off the headset, I insisted my colleagues try the headset on and experience what I just did.

Virtual reality is the tech du jour; again it was the technology to have at CES 2016. Even notoriously secretive Apple cannot resist VR’s juicy appeal. Apple CEO Tim Cook told investors he found VR “really cool” and the company now sells the View-Master Virtual Reality Viewer starter set on its website.

“The View-Master Virtual Reality Viewer turns your iPhone into a portal to immersive adventures in virtual reality,” Apple’s website description reads.

While there is still ongoing discussion over price pain points, the arrival of Google Cardboard and the View-Master Viewer—priced at $29.95—have believers thinking the time has come for virtual reality. And they may be right.


We have discussed virtual reality and its impact on consumer technology here at Ogilvydo. But we haven’t really focused on where virtual reality may fit in when it comes to traditional earned media and what our clients can do with it.

Imagine having a press briefing where we can escort reporters through the inside of a mobile phone to show off its storage capacity or demonstrate how cloud computing works by “flying” reporters up to a cloud, where data is stored and uploaded. Or how about a ride on Elon Musk’s much hyped about hyperloop with a demonstration by a technology client on how it would actually work?

Reporters are already dabbling with virtual reality. CNET reported on CES in virtual reality with a special site, where viewers did not have to travel to Las Vegas to see the latest tech toys. At the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) Conference last summer, a session focused on virtual reality and how it can help bring audiences closer to a story.

“Virtual reality once seemed like a trend, but it’s here to stay,” the session description read.

At this month’s (Feb. 7, 2016) Ogilvy Media Influence quarterly meeting, New York Times assistant digital editor Damien Cave shared that the Gray Lady was indeed experimenting with the possibilities of inserting virtual reality into digital stories. The paper already has a site devoted to it.

Imagine a reporter taking digital audiences fifty steps away from a roaring building fire or maybe even a homicide scene, where police detectives are still interviewing eyewitnesses and crime scene investigators still searching for bullet casings. The possibilities are endless, and sometimes, perhaps, too close.

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