Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich and founder of Spin Sucks, gives her insights on D S Simon Media’s newest survey, “PR and the Metaverse 3.0”. She shares examples of how communicators can utilize Metaverse 3.0 for crisis communications and more. Gini also explains how PR professionals can start having conversations about the Metaverse with their clients.
DOUG: One of my favorite things to do is to have these conversations with people I admire in the industry. And Gini Dietrich’s at the top of that list. So, thanks so much for joining this conversation.
GINI: It’s my pleasure to be here, Doug.
DOUG: You had a chance to look over our report on the role of PR and the metaverse. What were some of your takeaways from the findings?
GINI: You know, the first time I read it, I was kind of blown away in terms of it feels very and I think I said this to you, it feels very Second Life-ish, you know, which will age both of us. But it feels very much like that. And I think Second Life was a little bit ahead of its time because it didn’t do so, didn’t do as well as we thought it would. So, the first time I read the report, I was like, oh, this is really interesting. You know, we have an opportunity here to be in person together, but not really in person and is there an opportunity for us to use this from a communications perspective? And then I read it again and it really struck me that there are so many different kinds of opportunities for us to use it, B2C, B2B, internal comms, there’s lots of things that we can use, we can do to use it to be really effective.
DOUG: Yeah. One of the interesting things that we found was while we sent it out, generally the respondents were overwhelmingly senior leadership in the field and the increase from what they were doing in 2022 to what they’re planning in 2023 was dramatic. One of the things that you help advise clients on is crisis communication. Your thoughts on how it might be utilized in a crisis situation, both for maybe internal and external communication?
GINI: Yeah, I think there’s a couple of things. One, you have a really robust, the metaverse has a really robust news conference area. So having that consistent communication from the CEO or a high level executive as your spokesperson who is able to go in there and have conversations with reporters without them having to leave their desks or leave their studios, but can actually have those conversations and get those updates. I think the other thing is, depending on what the crisis is, there may be an opportunity for you to use it with the community and do community town halls and also doing internal town halls to keep your employees updated and understand what’s happening and what the next steps are and when they can expect to get more information.
DOUG: Yeah. And you had a chance to tour our Metaverse environment that we call Metaverse 3.0, which can have a press conference area, a trade show, a conference. What were some of your thoughts as we were walking you through that area?
GINI: I probably shouldn’t say this, but it’s cool as shit, like it’s so cool. And the idea that, I mean, we’re here, right? I think the pandemic taught us that we don’t have to necessarily be in person all the time. We can still get work done. And now this has taken us a step further where we can actually be in a trade show environment with one another. And the interesting thing, especially having seen it now, is that, I always thought you would miss those sort of serendipitous meetings. Right? You know, you’re going down the escalator and you see someone going up and you’re like, oh, I have to talk to you, or you’re walking down the hall and somebody’s coming past you and you wouldn’t have necessarily seen them otherwise. You have that opportunity in here to have those serendipitous meetings and to, you know, see a keynote and then talk to the speaker afterwards. It’s that you have those opportunities that you haven’t had virtually in a virtual environment before.
DOUG: A lot of us have done a number of Zoom calls on a daily basis, and a lot of times, especially for events, it’s presenters spewing information that’s received by attendees and that definitely has its place, medical education. But I think the intriguing potential of the metaverse is that you can, to your point, really get that one-on-one engagement or group to group engagement that you couldn’t otherwise get. I mean, it’s an example, an event we did. We had speakers from all over the world. There were 20 sessions and a three-track conference. The cost of just traveling all those people and their time would have been astronomical. What are some of the other ways that you’re seeing this version of the metaverse being used? And obviously it differs from those that are spending million dollars to create environments where you need expensive equipment. If you can get on a zoom, you can engage in the metaverse now.
GINI: Yeah, think it’s really cool. I mean, I was joking before we started reporting about having pneumatic tubes that sort of suck us up and put us into place and, you know, without us actually having pneumatic tubes that suck us up and put us into place, you now have your avatar that’s in there. And, you know, I do a lot of Zoom presentations myself. And it’s challenging because you don’t see people you don’t get the body language. You don’t have that interaction. And the only interaction you get is in the chat and you don’t always get to get to everybody, you know. So, there’s those challenges and I see those being dissolved with Metaverse 3.0 because I’ll see your avatar and we can actually have a conversation and you can ask me questions, or we can go to a private room in the the trade show hall, and we can continue our conversation. I think those, those are the things that we miss right now in the virtual environment that if we’re solving for that, it’s pretty compelling.
DOUG: Yeah. And I know many people just follow Spin Sucks like I do and there you give sort of great advice specifically for how communicators can do their job better. On your Arment Dietrich started side of your life, you’re more involved in advising clients. If someone’s watching and they want to start engaging their clients in discussions about how they can use the metaverse, what is some of your guidance on how to start those important conversations?
GINI: That’s a really good question. I think it’s just like anything else, right, in terms of as you’re advising clients or your executives on things that are, on trends that are happening and things that they should be looking toward. This is something that should be on the list of conversations. And, you know, for us, we’ll start to have conversations with our clients about, first of all, how cool it is, also that there’s an opportunity for us to use it in all of these different ways that will save on travel and time and expense and all of that and still get that same value from going to that event.
DOUG: And what do you think the future holds for the metaverse and PR, their roles together?
GINI: Oh. I think the opportunities are probably endless. Like the idea that you can be together without leaving your desk. I mean, I’m an introvert, so I really love that idea. I know that extroverts may not love that idea as much. They actually want to like touch human beings. I don’t necessarily need to do that. But I do think the opportunities are endless. And certainly there is still a place for us, you know, to get to be in real life together. But, you know, being able to supplement that with all of this, with Metaverse 3.0 and providing an opportunity to really dig deep with individuals and with groups of people is huge. That’s a huge opportunity.
DOUG: Yeah, I loved your question when we were showing it to you like, wait, if you see someone and don’t want to talk to them, is that a possibility too? And clearly you don’t have to answer that call. You may have to deal with that later in another form of communication. But, you know, one of our goals is to see that PR can own the metaverse and really take advantage of that opportunity. I think the survey definitely made us optimistic about that. What’s your level of optimism about that as we wrap up?
GINI: You know, for us probably price is going to be a big player for sure. But outside of that, I don’t know that there are any obstacles. I’m pretty optimistic about it. I was all in on Second Life. We thought that was really a really cool opportunity. And I see this as the next iteration of that, so I’m really excited about it.
DOUG: For those of you who enjoyed our conversation, I would think that’s all of you who watched, you should definitely subscribe to Spin Sucks. And also, if you want to download the full report that we were talking about, you can do so at the link below.