Agency owners and leadership teams must stay ahead of current marketing, media and tech trends to find the best ways to serve and satisfy clients. The developing metaverse has presented a unique opportunity for communications professionals, given that Web3 technology is still in its nascent stage.
Although it’s a concept that’s been vaguely referenced and thrown about for some time, many of us first became acquainted with the term when Mark Zuckerberg, Meta CEO and founder, posted a letter on the company’s website. He wrote, “The defining quality of the metaverse will be a feeling of presence — like you are right there with another person or in another place.” This was a beautifully simplistic description of what is actually a very complex entity. In fact, the very nature and evolution of the metaverse depend on the interoperability of multiple technological entities, all of which have an unstable footing in the mind of common consumers.
As PR professionals, we must understand what others cannot in order to properly communicate the implications of these technologies for our clients’ industries, as well as our own. Not to mention, there has been an incredible surge in the number of metaverse development companies in the U.S., so business opportunities will likely open up as PR agencies and professionals deepen their expertise in all things Web3. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) notes, “While integrated marketing-communications continue to include paid, owned, earned, and shared channels, the metaverse will be the next step for all of them.”
PR pros should think about preparing for the profound and complex effects the metaverse could have on media, brands and marketing, so they can advise their clients on and about emerging Web3 technologies.
What Is Web3
To truly understand the nature of Web3 and the metaverse, we should acknowledge its historical foundations. Web3 is built on a combination of concepts that were first introduced in the first two iterations of the internet:
• Web1 was a low-bandwidth, highly decentralized infrastructure that resulted in a mostly community-governed system. It was static, simple and lacked interactive media and communication integrations.
• Web2 is dominated by centralized software services run by big enterprises and tech corporations, all of whom are in the business of collecting, generating and distributing incredible amounts of data. This is the version of the internet that made incredible things like streaming, social media and video calls possible, but most of the value from this period was allocated to those big tech companies at the cost of the consumer’s personal data.
• Web3 is a decentralized and more democratic online structure that combines the community-governed essence of Web1 with the limitless functionality and interoperability of Web2. Packy McCormick, an American investor who helped bring attention to the term Web3, says it’s “the internet owned by the builders and users, orchestrated with tokens.”
What It Means For Brands And Businesses
The advent of Web3 technology brings with it a myriad of opportunities for brands and businesses. 2D Web2 shopping experiences could be transformed into interactive VR adventures; NFTs could change the way we experience or buy art and entertainment; blockchain-built currencies could revolutionize how people spend and save their money. Brands can exploit what these new infrastructures have to offer in so many different ways, but they will need to strategize and align their business development goals to keep up with the times.
In fact, more and more companies are starting to offer metaverse integration services for brands and businesses. These are teams that can help bridge the gap between Web2 and Web3 for companies that don’t have the capacity to build those infrastructures out themselves. Whether it be in decentralized finance, virtual reality, digital identity or non-fungible token and digital asset creation, the opportunities for new and existing brands could be endless.
PR professionals will likely need to know how to help guide these delicate transitions. Being prepared for the next iteration of the internet cannot mean the alienation of consumers who have grown accustomed to Web2, but it must entail some sort of progress toward the strategic integration of Web3 where it makes sense. Legacy brands and businesses will not want or need to change their core services but instead look ahead at the additional, logical opportunities the metaverse could offer down the road. That being said, changes should always be carefully communicated to internal and external stakeholders.
What It Means For PR
While helping clients gain the media coverage their business merits is a critical part of the PR process, our most important contacts remain the journalists, influencers and media experts whom we work with on a regular basis. We need to consider how these developing technologies might affect the way they do their jobs as well. Think about how Web2 and social media have helped redefine the media landscape — Web3 is primed to do the same thing. The metaverse presents itself with yet another way to create, consume and experience content, and the media industry is sure to be one of the first industries to embrace it.
Eventually, we might need to prepare for virtual press conferences and VR events in the metaverse. For now, however, PR agencies and professionals should focus on bridging the knowledge gap between Web3 companies and their users. Additionally, companies with a foot in the metaverse will likely need continued attention in order to keep up with the innovation required by this new iteration of the internet. PR pros should know how to tailor a business’ communications strategy to entice investors interested in forward-thinking Web3 companies.
The next few years could see a consistent increase in Web3 companies entering the market. These up-and-coming businesses will need experienced, knowledgeable and tech-savvy PR professionals who can help them seamlessly communicate their vision for the future to their audiences.