Virtual Reality meets Happy Meals meets Education

Is Virtual Reality going to become the next toy? It was going to happen, when marketers rediscover the immersive experience that they never got to realize when the wonders of Second Life never materialized.

Now that McDonald’s has got into the game, letting children re-fold the Happy Meal box into a VR headset (just like the Google cardboard model, but a different template), you could expect many to follow. WIRED reports that these ‘Happy Goggles’ (ugh! I just don’t dig this name), will be available at 14 McDonald’s restaurants across northern Sweden.

Coke has also experimented with similar headsets.

Now, to be sure the Golden Arches says they want to be in the education space. How that will go is left to be seen. Edutainment might be more appropriate.

Nevertheless, VR is well suited for educational experiences like we have never known. Unlike a computer screen, the wearable experience could be used differently. We don’t need ‘toys’ in class, though. Just tools.

Was Apple v Justice iPhone battle feigned?

So, did Tim Cook win? Or did law enforcement fight a fake battle over a back-door to an iPhone? A few weeks ago I wondered why they even bothered asking Apple.

Given that there are dozens of websites that provide back-door services, and there being ‘ethical hackers’ who could unlock phones, I’m surprised no one has offered to do it for Apple, thereby freeing them of the PR nightmare.

A lawyer for the ACLU seems to think the battle is far from over. As a friend mentioned in response to this post, this legal tussle could have been a set-up, just to cover the fact that the surveillance program can snoop into phones – locked or otherwise.

But no worries, 60 governments already do it, as reported in Wired magazine two years ago.

New marketing in a rip, mix, burn culture

I read a quote somewhere that “mashups are an inalienable right.” To which we could add: Personalization, instant gratification, live streaming, and on-demand are inalienable rights, too.

So we have to expect more of the rip, mix burn possibilities (rip, remix, burn?) as in this latest attempt by Oxford rock band, Radiohead to let its fans remix their own versions of a song, giving them the five elements of the track.

In December last year, Thom Yorke of Radiohead told WIRED, that their “pay what you can” experiment for the album In Rainbows was not a business model but “a response to a situation. We’re out of contract. We have our own studio. We have this new server. What the hell else would we do?” No one quite believed them, as it seemed more like a pilot study for some savvy marketing.

This latest tactic is definitely more than a “response” –a strategy to build a fan base among users who have been weaned on the above-mentioned inalienable rights.

10 things we obsessed about in 2007

Here’s what I will remember about 2007 from the perspective of marketing, social media and communications. We obsessed about these stories in PR, marketing and social media.

1. Facebook made us rethink what social networking could do for one-to-one communications.

2. Network neutrality became a debate that not just the geeks and telcos were interested in.

3. Short codes gained popularity as the new URLs, as text messaging took off. Sadly, it took the shootings at Virginia tech for universities to realize the value of this kind of messaging.

4. Mashups became more entertaining than the original. Think: the “1984″ spoof ‘commercial‘ about Hillary Clinton, viewed over 3 million times.

5. It was the year micro-blogging (with Twitter and Jaiku) got taken seriously,

6. This was the year email spam (in the form of “co-worker spam” and “PR spam”) hit a tipping point, forcing communicators to take a good hard look at databases, and how to try to target better. Not convinced? See the rumpus Wired editor, Chris Anderson’s “sorry people you’re blocked” post did.

7. A new, intriguing search engine called Mahalo (made possible by humans, not just algorithms!), the future of Wikipedia, and whether “amateurish” knowledge is helping or hurting us.

8. The toy for grown ups: the iPhone, what else?

9. Beacon, Facebook’s daring experiment with something called “social ads.”

10. Obama-mania, both here and abroad.

(cross posted from ValleyPRblog)

Job hunting and speed dating

A WIRED story about the web 2.0 speed dating sites reminded me about the value of instant, real time feedback in another type of courtship: Job hunting.

Unlike the old days of waiting for the newspaper to land on your doorstep, faxing your resume to the “black hole” and waiting a week or so for a recruiter to call, we are now into what I would call Human Resource Speed Dating. It’s gone beyond the Monster and Career Journal model of setting up profiles and filters, and using those so-called resume keywords so that HR people find you.

A blog is the best form of Human Resource Speed Dating.

From the HR person’s perspective, a blog gives the recruiter a deeper look at the person, not on the basis of the well crafted resume, but on the basis of his/her ideas, network and passion about fields of interest related to the job. It makes redundant the “tell me a little bit about yourself” question in phone interviews.

From a candidate’s perspective, a blog can give you instant feedback as to what pages and what posts are being scrutinized every day. A cover letter could provide a links that drives a recruiter to your ‘about’ page on your blog. Are other pages being viewed? It’s the equivalent of eye contact in dating, that provides vital cues about whether things are going your way, whether you ought to make the next move, or dry those sweaty palms and expect the phone to ring.

PR needs to do its own PR

George Simpson, a columnist for Media Post’s Marketing Daily added this to the PR debate, with some harsh words.

“Show me a child who says “I want to grow up and spend 15 hours a day writing meaningless press releases, begging for placement and swallowing my pride with arrogant writers”–and I will show you a child the school authorities should keep away from m-rated video games, listening to Metallica, or obtaining a gun permit.”

Never mind that Simpson cites stats such as this: 90% of B2B reporters use news releases as sources for their stories.

Chris Anderson’s post has somehow become a polarizing event, with the PR haters on one side of the spectrum taking hugs whacks at much more than clueless practitioners spamming journalists. (Someone commented that Anderson has no right to be offended. WIRED mag has been spamming him for years!)

Amazingly, the PR industry response has been weak. PRSA has published results of a study that very impressively states how journalists largely depend on PR for their stories –the source that Simpson uses. But while it has responded to other issues such as the recent fake news conference held by FEMA, the PRSA has not issued a statement on the Anderson problem. It’s been left to PR practitioners to stand up for what PR is really about.

How long must we wait?