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January 30, 2024

PR and the Metaverse: What Communicators Need to Know

Public Relations
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The metaverse. Everybody’s heard of it, but only about half of all Americans have even a loose understanding of what it is. With an increasing number of Americans interested in exploring this shared virtual reality space, brands have an opportunity to start building compelling strategies for public relations in the metaverse and using the metaverse as an alternate space for connecting with media contacts and with their target audiences.  

What is the metaverse?

The metaverse is a digital space where people can come together and interact in virtual or augmented reality.  Through the metaverse, you can make new connections and visit new places. Brands can build their own spaces in the metaverse, either locations that mirror the real world or more whimsical ones that bring in digital-only aspects.  Metaverse engagement continues to grow, with companies making more than $120 billion in metaverse investments in the first half of 2022 alone. According to a Pew Research study, 54 percent of technology experts and innovators expect that by 2040, the metaverse will be a “much-more-refined and truly fully immersive, well-functioning aspect of daily life for a half billion or more people globally.”

Why should PR pros and communicators care about the metaverse?  

Brands are investing money in the metaverse already. For example, Bloomberg estimates metaverse market value will reach $800 billion by 2024.In the fashion industry, 50 percent of consumers have expressed openness and interest in metaverse shopping for actual, physical purchases. People are using the metaverse as an opportunity for virtual travel to places they might not otherwise be able to explore.  PR professionals need to be where the people are. If their targets are expressing an interest in the metaverse and they’re able to get in on the ground floor, they’ll be able to garner a larger share of their attention. And, if their companies are there, they need to be included for brand reputation management, crisis communications and more.  

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How can PR pros leverage the metaverse?

Storytelling is a necessary tool for PR experts. And, just imagine the narrative possibilities if you can really bring someone into the world of your story – let them touch, feel, see and hear, as well as read your words.   Where you might be limited on your PR efforts in the real world because of geography or budget constraints, you have more options when you’re running public relations in the metaverse.  For example, you can host dozens of journalists for a press tour in the metaverse, where you might be constrained to just a couple in the real world. Other opportunities for PR and marketing in the metaverse include:  

  • Virtual Demos and Events: Instead of flying a group of journalists in or trying to make a product or story come alive via the phone or email, you could connect with them in a metaverse space through VR headsets and haptic gloves. Let them get a better sense of the experience – one they can see and touch – and your brand story will come alive for them.  
  • Speaking Engagements: You can make your brand more visible to a wide audience by allowing your organization’s thought leaders to present in a virtual space.  
  • Media Interviews and Placements: Distance and timing no longer have to be constraints. Get your spokespeople and experts in the same room with journalists more easily. And, if people are accessing information in the metaverse, you have the opportunity to get PR placements in the digital magazines/newspapers/other media they’re reading.  
  • Creating Connected Campaigns: Your metaverse marketing campaigns and PR efforts don’t have to be a silo. Find ways to incorporate it with your other PR and marketing efforts where possible. It may not be a fit for every campaign, but if you find opportunities, use it for outreach to your targeted audiences.  

Examples of metaverse marketing and PR campaigns

Some companies are already seeing traction for their public relations in the metaverse efforts. These are a few examples of PR campaigns that have seen success in the metaverse (and in the real world simultaneously):  

  • Sotheby’s launched NFT collections alongside traditional art and as digital twins.
  • Chipotle has gamified burrito creation to attract Roblox players to its digital store, then rewarded them with codes redeemable for real-life burritos.  
  • Warner Bros. celebrated the launch of the In The Heights movie by replicating the iconic Washington Heights neighborhood in the metaverse and bringing people together for a block party with games, dancing and more.  
  • Augmented reality creators developed Coachellaverse, a virtual connection to the popular music festival, and gained more than 100,000 opens on Instagram.  
  • Gucci developed “Gucci Garden,” a virtual space that mirrors the real-life Gucci Garden Archetypes installation in Florence.  

Metaverse PR: should PR pros dive right in?

The metaverse is still a developing area for brands and for PR professionals. Now is the time to get familiar with metaverse technology and to start seeking your audiences, so you can experiment with different means of connection when the time is right.  When social media was in the early adoption process, many companies worried about jumping into unknown territory. However, at that time, smart PR people knew that even if you’re not in a space, people are still talking about you and your brand there. The same will happen as the metaverse becomes more mainstream, which means now you have a golden opportunity to learn, prepare and plan for your leap into this new reality.

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