8 ways to use virtual reality in PR campaigns—best practices and challenges

by | Jan 9, 2024 | Public Relations

Public relations is the craft of storytelling and relationship building. It’s the art of shaping and managing perceptions, fostering trust, and influencing opinions. Traditionally, PR has leveraged various channels—from media relations to events—to convey brand messages and narratives to target audiences.

In this dynamic arena, PR professionals are constantly seeking innovative ways to communicate with audiences and forge meaningful connections amidst the noise of information overload. This is where virtual reality (VR) comes into play as a groundbreaking technology reshaping the landscape of communication and consumer engagement. 

Providing a new way of experiencing the world, VR integration into PR strategies heralds a new era of immersive communication where digital experiences are not just observed but lived. 

Why does VR matter for PR?

VR isn’t just a buzzword. At its core, it’s an immersive, computer-generated environment that simulates reality. It transports users from their physical surroundings into a digitally constructed realm, allowing them to interact and engage with a fabricated yet realistic world.

Imagine slipping on a VR headset and suddenly finding yourself amidst a bustling marketplace in Tokyo, or perhaps standing on the surface of Mars, exploring the unknown. The tech transcends boundaries, blurring the lines between what’s real and simulations.

VR benefits for PR

There are a few distinct advantages that define the value of this technology for PR campaigns and determine its further integration into the industry.

  • Enhanced engagement: Distinguished by an unparalleled ability to create immersive experiences that resonate deeply with audiences, VR is a powerful tool for storytelling and engagement. Speaking of which, over 60 percent of brands consider engagement as one of the key indicators of PR effectiveness. VR elevates engagement by immersing audiences in captivating narratives, allowing them to actively participate and emotionally connect with a brand’s story.
  • Innovative storytelling: About 72 percent of PR pros perceive storytelling as the prime skill in their job. Today, when attention spans are fleeting and the demand for authentic experiences is soaring. VR offers a unique opportunity for PR pros to create narratives that go beyond words and images. It enables brands to transport their audience into the heart of their story, leaving indelible impressions and providing a lasting impact.
  • Access to a wider audience and global reach: The tech isn’t confined by geographical limitations. Immersive experiences are accessible to anyone with a headset and internet connection.VR has the potential to break borders, allowing brands to easily interact and connect with global audiences while amplifying brand visibility.

With that, the importance of VR in modern PR campaigns isn’t just about adopting the latest trend. It’s rather about embracing a transformative medium that elevates storytelling, sparks the imagination, and redefines how brands engage with their audiences.

How to leverage VR for PR campaigns

Though yet to be massively adopted, VR is a disruptive force in the PR landscape. Offering a one-of-a-kind innovative platform to elevate promotional campaigns to unprecedented heights, it enables brands to stand out from the competition and hit their audiences on a deeper level. 

VR integration into promotional campaigns unlocks new previously unavailable opportunities for brands to diversify their PR efforts and make their promotional strategies more efficient. Let’s take a look at how PR professionals can use this technology to make their campaigns a success and consider real-life examples illustrating the diverse applications. 

  • Immersive brand experiences

By crafting virtual environments that showcase a brand’s story, values, missions, and products or services, you can transport audiences into a world where they interact with your brand in a tangible, memorable way. Be it a virtual tour of a company’s history, a sneak peek into its innovation labs, or a simulation showcasing product usage, you can offer consumers the opportunity to engage in interactive demonstrations and make informed decisions within a fabricated environment. Such experiences contribute to building stronger emotional bonds with your audience.

Marriott offers virtual travel experiences through “VRoom Service.” Guests could order a VR headset to their room and access virtual tours of different destinations. Captivating experiences enable guests to explore places like Maui or London from their hotel rooms, elevating their stay and demonstrating Marriott’s global presence.

  • Media relations

VR can redefine media interactions. Instead of conventional press releases, presentations, or media kits, communicators can create simulations that vividly demonstrate the essence of a story or a product. By allowing reporters to experience the narrative firsthand through VR, pitches become more compelling and memorable, increasing the chances of media coverage and its quality.

Volvo introduced its XC90 SUV using VR. They sent customized Google Cardboard VR headsets to journalists globally, inviting them to try a virtual test drive of the new vehicle. This approach resulted in extensive media coverage and higher interest in the launch. The campaign results speak for themselves, with over 34,000 customers willing to be the first to know when the new vehicle will be available on the market. 

  • VR press conferences

According to Colin McDermott, Head of Digital at Whop.com: “In the rapidly evolving landscape of Public Relations, the integration of VR could potentially signify a paradigm shift in how we connect with audiences. Strategic partnerships with VR tech firms offer an unparalleled opportunity to craft immersive narratives that resonate on a profound level. These collaborations are not just about leveraging cutting-edge technology; they are about creating a synergy that transforms storytelling, making brand messages more impactful and memorable.”

Gone are the days of traditional press conferences confined to physical spaces. VR press events enable journalists, influencers, and stakeholders from around the globe to attend virtually. This not only expands the reach of the event but also adds a futuristic and memorable element to media interactions.

Back in 2016, Samsung was among the first big brands to host a virtual reality press conference for the launch of their Gear VR headset. Journalists and attendees were able to virtually experience the event, creating a buzz, garnering extensive media coverage, and widening the audience reach.

  • Virtual events and product launches

Artificial reality is a game-changer for events and product launches. Brands can create virtual spaces where attendees will interact with products, engage in demos, and network with others. It’s an innovative way to generate buzz and enable broader audiences to participate, especially when physical gatherings may be limited.
For businesses looking to capitalize on this trend, specialized expertise in media and entertainment software development is essential to ensure the seamless integration of cutting-edge virtual experiences into their marketing strategies.

Adidas created a VR experience where users could feel like professional footballers. During product launches, they set up VR stations in stores where customers could try on the latest football boots and experience a simulated match. This interactive approach increased product engagement and sales.

  • Social media and content marketing

PR experts can leverage VR content for social media campaigns. Short VR experiences or teasers can be shared on platforms, garnering attention and driving engagement. User-generated content from such experiences can also be a goldmine for social media strategies, fostering user interaction and sharing. Likewise, brands can collaborate with virtual content creators or influencers to further amplify their reach. 

Thus, to promote the series Westworld, HBO created a virtual experience for fans to explore the show’s iconic locations. They shared a VR teaser on social media, generating excitement and encouraging fans to engage and share their impressions.

  • Partnerships and collaborations

Collaborating with VR tech companies can add depth and innovation to PR campaigns. By teaming with experts from such industries as gaming or entertainment, communicators can explore new storytelling avenues. This way, brands can create unique, tailor-made experiences that align perfectly with their messaging and objectives.

In 2015, the North Face partnered with Jaunt VR to create an exclusive VR tour across California’s Yosemite National Park and Utah’s Moab Desert, showcasing North Face products in action. This collaboration bridged outdoor experiences with brand visibility, reaching a wider audience.

  • Measuring analytics

Artificial reality technology provides invaluable data for promotional campaigns. Specialists can track user interactions, engagement levels, duration of experiences, and even user behavior within the simulated space. This data offers insights into audience preferences, allowing for more targeted and effective campaign strategies.

Audi implemented VR showrooms in dealerships, tracking user interactions. They analyzed which car features users engaged with the most, helping them understand customer preferences and tailor sales pitches accordingly.

  • Crisis management

During crises, VR can offer a controlled environment to convey sensitive information or simulate scenarios for training purposes. It allows PR teams to prepare to handle real-life situations and respond to challenges and difficulties more effectively while maintaining transparency and control over the narrative.

Besides, the tech can serve as a powerful tool for empathy-building. Brands can create immersive experiences that help stakeholders understand complex situations, fostering empathy and understanding. 

Travel company Thomas Cook used VR for crisis management training. They simulated emergency scenarios such as hotel fires or natural disasters, enabling staff to experience and practice crisis responses in controlled settings, thus enhancing preparedness.

Best practices and strategies for VR in PR

Seamlessly integrating Artificial Reality technology into PR campaigns calls for a complex strategic approach taking into account different aspects and considerations. Only by implementing a combo of the best practices and techniques, PR professionals can harness the full potential of the tech to craft impactful campaigns and deepen audience engagement.

  • Knowing audience preferences: Research and analyze your target audience’s interests, habits, and behaviors regarding artificial technology. Identify the platforms and devices they use, ensuring your VR content aligns with what they like.
  • Immersive storytelling: Focus on creating narratives that capitalize on VR’s enticing potential. Get audiences hooked by transporting them into captivating and emotionally appealing experiences that align with your brand’s message.
  • Interactive experiences: Design simulations that stimulate user interaction. Incorporate elements that allow audiences to actively interact with the environment, fostering a sense of agency and personalization.
  • Visual and audio quality: Prioritize high-quality visuals and audio to create a riveting experience. Strive for realism and attention to detail in the simulated environment to enhance the user’s sense of presence.
  • Platform compatibility: Optimize your simulations for various platforms and devices to maximize accessibility. Consider compatibility across different headsets and ensure seamless user experiences.
  • Tailored content: Generate content with a focus on specific audience segments. Personalize experiences based on demographics, interests, and psychographics to enhance engagement.
  • Cross-industry collaborations: Explore collaborations with companies from diverse industries to create unique and innovative VR campaigns. Cross-industry partnerships can lead to fresh perspectives and creative approaches.
  • User privacy and consent: Keep an eye on user privacy and obtain explicit consent for data collection or any personalization within the VR experience.
  • Authenticity and transparency: Disclose any simulated or fictional elements within the artificial content to maintain authenticity and trust with your audience.
  • Accessibility and inclusivity: Strive for inclusivity by considering accessibility features for users with disabilities. Make sure that all user types can be involved in and enjoy simulations.

Challenges of VR in PR

With a whole lot of benefits to it, VR integration in promotional campaigns is not without certain challenges. Communicators should take these hurdles into account when planning their PR efforts and timely address them to get the most out of the Virtual Reality technology while hitting their goals.

  • Cost and technical barriers: The creation of high-quality VR content, acquisition of specialized hardware, and technical expertise required for development can be substantial investments. Moreover, staying abreast of rapidly evolving technology demands ongoing financial commitments.
  • Audience adoption and accessibility concerns: Limited access to VR headsets and potential discomfort with the immersive experience hinder widespread adoption. Accessibility concerns, such as motion sickness or compatibility issues with certain devices, also pose challenges for reaching a broader audience.
  • Measuring ROI and effectiveness: Measuring the Return on Investment (ROI) and gauging the effectiveness of VR-based PR campaigns can be challenging. Metrics for assessing the impact of immersive experiences differ from traditional PR metrics. Determining how VR engagements translate into tangible outcomes, such as brand perception shifts or increased sales, requires customized measurement approaches.


The integration of virtual reality into public relations strategies is a journey into uncharted territories of storytelling, consumer experiences, and global connectivity. It’s a realm where innovation, creativity, and authenticity converge to redefine the art of engagement.

In a dynamic PR landscape, embracing VR is not just an option. It’s an opportunity for differentiation and a chance to captivate audiences in ways that transcend traditional communication methods, creating memorable brand interactions and forging lasting relationships.

Titanic Wayne
Titanic Wayne is a marketing manager and PR advisor at CoreCommerce.