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Increased consumer interaction with technology is changing the nature of consumer communications

As a generation – where you do reckon we sit in terms of our technological achievements?

I only ask because I get the feeling that we reckon we’re doing really well. I suspect we’re doing OK – I’d give us B-. Previous generations did, after all, get a man to the moon, create the internal combustion engine and come up with the likes of electricity, split the atom, and understand the makeup of DNA…

Where I do think there has been a transformation is in the use of “every-day” technology. As consumers we interact with some amazing tech every day. And it is this trend in consumer interaction with technology that is changing the nature of consumer communications.

The use of technology, or a new technology based communications platform, has become really important in consumer communications.

Earlier this month PRmoment and Cohn & Wolfe held a seminar for in-house PR and communication folks looking at the communication trends happening within this area.

Speakers were Jay Ward, Director of European Product Communications at Ford, Amanda Coleman, Head of Corporate Communications at Greater Manchester Police and Tom Malcolm, UK MD of Consumer Marketing at Cohn and Wolfe.

To put the event into some context, C&W’s Tom Malcom claimed that technology and lifestyle are converging, creating a need (perhaps even a vacuum) that good communications needs to fill.

Customers are demanding experiences over physical products and this is being reflected in both consumers’ puchasig habit and how brands are positioning themselves:

Here are a couple of videos where the Cohn and Wolfe team has helped brands use technology in communications:

The Swedish Number

Barclaycard Contactless Beer

Jay Ward discussed how Ford was using virtual reality in its communications.  The reason Ford is keen to use technology such as VR is explained in the diagram below:

The nature of car design means it already has a huge amount of technical content which it is able to plug into its VR programme. Ford has then sliced and diced this VR content across a range of different audiences and platforms to show off the Ford GT. The objective of this communication is not to directly sell more cars, the Ford GT s a high-end racer, but to increase the awareness of Ford’s technical expertise. More widely, here are Jay’s top tips when considering the use of new VR technology in your communications:

What to consider when using virtual reality in your communications

  • Go beyond the simplistic urge to thrill and trade on technology. Assume your audience is from 2022.
  • Transcend reality – don’t replicate it.
  • Fully explore the possibilities for the integration of peripherals and other technologies.
  • Whenever possible create a space for the experience that complements it.
  • Consider the long term-implications of the technology

Amanda Coleman talked to us about the example of Greater Manchester Police’s App.

The Greater Manchester Police App:

  • The first police App in the UK to use geolocation technology
  • Data relevant to location
  • Local information
  • Information on wanted people
  • Information on missing people
  • Encourage intelligent submission
  • Available on iphone and Android
  • Developed by the in-house team
  • Continuous development really important
  • Uses geofencing technology
  • 45,000 downloads so far

Whilst it is still early days for the Greater Manchester App, it is clear that it is a useful two-way communication channel for Greater Manchester Police to connect with the Manchester public. The use of geo-fencing technology is impressive and 45,000 downloads of the App amongst such a specific target audience is some achievement.

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