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With the popularity of apps like Pokémon Go, brands are exploring how immersive visual experiences can create impactful communications. Augmented reality — or AR — is one emerging technology that will change the way brands reach audiences, both external and internal. From forging deeper connections to adding interactivity to data visualization, the possibilities are endless.

 

Here's a closer look at AR's potential in corporate communications — and what factors to consider when launching your own initiative.

Using AR in corporate communications

Within corporate communications, there are a number of potential applications for AR.

  • Data visualization: Data visualization is becoming an important component of corporate communications. Internal and external audiences want access to a range of data, from financial performance to corporate social responsibility information. As IT Business Edge reports, AR technology can help brands develop interactive, live data simulations targeted to specific audiences, or even in response to real-time questions.
  • Holographic communications: With holographic applications of AR like Microsoft's "holoportation" technology, profiled by Science Alert, brands can use the technology to create an "in-person experience" for strategic communications. A holograph of an executive delivering a crisis message, inspiring speech or annual meeting can be projected to multiple locations while eliminating travel expenses.
  • Up-leveling emotional storytelling: As PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) reports, AR and virtual reality (VR) technology "can be leveraged for emotion, empathy, understanding and engagement." In an age when authenticity and emotional connections are critical to building relationships with customers, brands are incorporating AR into communications they want to evoke strong emotions. For example, a program that's designed to improve employee retention by showing your team the impact of their work on customers and communities could be delivered in AR for maximum impact.

Crafting an effective message in AR

Effective AR messaging requires an understanding of how the technology works. PwC defines AR as a "live view overlaid with information." A user might ascertain nutritional information about a meal, for example, by opening an app and holding their phone up to their food to see calories, carbs, fat and more.

 

In the communications context, this could be used to allow employees to hold their phones over a report and access a richer breakdown of data. Likewise, emerging technologies might allow them to don a headset or use other technology to view a projected image of a person delivering a speech. Effective messaging in AR has three core qualities:

  • Visual: AR is innately visual, and effective storytelling leverages this advantage. For example, instead of a chart listing numbers, data can be presented through video or interactive graphics.
  • Emotional: Immersion leads to deeper emotional connections. Clarify your desired emotional impact and use images, words and context to deliver it.
  • Personal: AR lets users focus on what interests them personally. Allow for deeper dives, and use the immediacy of the medium to connect users with individual representatives of your brand.

Launching your own AR program

Launching an AR program requires asking some fundamental questions:

  • Will our audience embrace augmented reality? Define what steps you need to take to support the adoption process, such as providing access to technology or training.
  • In what areas of our communications could this be most effective? Corporate communications teams have large mandates. Choose the area where visual storytelling and increased immediacy can foster the greatest positive impact.
  • How will we measure success? Start your program with one specific AR initiative and track its success. If possible, integrate metrics and feedback into your centralized communications dashboard to make informed choices about making deeper investments going forward.

Mixed-reality technologies have the potential to help corporate communications professionals deliver powerful messages to their audiences. Whether you're using AR to take a deeper dive into data, showcase immersive storytelling or create more immediacy when delivering internal communications, it can help evoke a stronger connection and reaction than traditional mediums. Before rolling out your own program, develop a strategy that helps you focus on your most logical areas and assess its impact.

 

Download our .futurology report to learn how augmented reality experiences can win more attention from your audiences.

Liz Alton writes about technology, marketing and business for enterprise audiences. She's a Forbes contributor and her writing has been published in Inc, USA Today, Entrepreneur, the Huffington Post, Mic, Harvard Business Review blogs and the WSJ. She holds an MBA and a BA in journalism, and is completing a masters in Journalism at Harvard.

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