Why PR will be at the forefront of the next Digital Revolution

Guest post from Julian Cole, Strategy Director at BBH New York

In 2009, Nike Chalkbot marked the first big example of physical computing being successful executed by a brand. Nike took the encouraging messages from fans online and printed them on the road in the Tour de France with chalk. Minds were blown. How did they do this in real time?

Since then we have seen an increasing number of brands successfully create campaigns with a backbone in physical computing.

For those who don’t know, physical computing (also known as the ‘Internet of things’) is based on the idea that every object in the world is becoming connected. Everything from a hat stand to your fridge will run on sensors and be able to communicate with you and your devices (laptop/mobile phone). This is an exciting new development which is sure to change the way we live.

At the moment a lot of the technology around physical computing comes with high production costs, so the main way brands are currently using physical computing is in stunts and activations.

In America, the physical computing space in regards to brands is currently being pushed forward by three agencies; BreakfastNY, Tellart and Deep Local (who were behind Chalkbot). They are one part engineer, one part PR machine.

The major problem with physical computing is scale. Advertising agencies are used to making one message for millions of people to see, whereas physical computing is often about making one message for one person, or only a select few individuals, to see. This is where PR can come in. Most of these campaigns use ground breaking technology and the one thing that PR agencies are great at is getting earned media. With the great understanding of media, I think PR can be at the forefront of bringing through the next wave of digital.

Julian Cole - PRINKS

Julian Cole is a former PRINKer and Strategy Director at BBH New York, where he leads the Communication Strategy for PlayStation. Julian has led the Digital Strategy for Coca-Cola, glaceau vitamin water, Rockstar Games, Boost Mobile, Axe, Johnnie Walker, Baileys, Universal Music amongst other global brands. Read about Julian’s latest projects on his blog, ‘By Julian Cole’.


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