Beware!  Periscope could harm your reputation

“It may sound crazy, but we wanted to build the closest thing to teleportation,” says Beykpour, co- founder of live-streaming app Periscope. Well who wouldn’t?

Periscope is Facetime for exhibitionists. The concept of Periscope is to put you in the moment, almost “looking through the eyes” of the person streaming: whether that’s joining a peace movement in North Korea, a walk along New York’s Highline or your grandchild’s football match against Burnley.  

Where it differs from Facetime is that this is very much a one-way broadcast rather than a two-way conversation and that anyone, anywhere can tune in, unless you block them.  But why would you want to do that when they can send hearts to show their appreciation? Literally, tiny fluttering hearts drift across the screen. How sweet.

I’ve tried it, and even as a ‘viewer’ rather than a ‘broadcaster’ you feel like you’ve accidentally (and somewhat uncomfortably) tapped into someone else’s private conversation. It doesn’t help that, in it’s infancy,

Periscope content seems to consist mainly of people drinking. The wholesome Dan Snow was looking at some Spitfires, but as a feed it was too popular and I couldn’t fit in. Story of my life.

But when you’re in the PR game you’ve got to be prepared and, if you’ll excuse the unintended pun, Periscope may be providing a vision of things to come. Twitter certainly seems to think so, having bought Periscope for $100 million in March 2015 and already I’ve been missing some great content.

For example, #whereiwrite – a collection of famous authors showing us around their hallowed work spaces (AKA spare bedrooms) has been a fascinating behind the scenes, and a fantastic marketing tool for publishing company Hachette. Twitter pushes notifications out for upcoming live broadcasts … and if I’ve learned anything in PR it’s “if you tweet it they will come”.  

It’s a clever combination of old-school and new social media relevant for any event or exhibition.  As Periscope inevitably builds in popularity (and it we all know it will) be prepared to leave your old formats behind … Captain Kirk will never mutter the words: “Podcast this Scotty”.  

But that’s not the only little red flag I see on the horizon for Periscope (pun intended this time). Having trained with the BBC I can say with some assurance that controlling live content isn’t easy, even with oodles of experience. If you’ve ever seen one of those Eastenders specials where all the actors forget their lines and the camera assistant can be glimpsed in the reflection of the Queen Vic bar, you’ll have some inkling of just how tricky it is.  

This is an app that transports the public behind the scenes so you’d better make sure that people are going to like what they see back there. Hard hats at the ready!

Written by Heather Abela, account manager at agency Viva PR