Sarah Berman, President of The Berman Group, explains how the global real estate industry can utilize the Metaverse. Sarah also shares how Metaverse 3.0 events can be accessible and engaging to clients and participants alike.
Learn more about Metaverse 3.0 here: https://www.dssimon.com/metaverse/
DOUG: Sarah, you had a chance to review our PR in the Metaverse 3.0 report. What were some of your top takeaways?
SARAH: Thank you so much, Doug. It’s really great to be here to talk about this today. I love the report and I love the whole concept of exploring the metaverse for the PR industry. The metaverse to me is like a way to stretch our imagination and as a PR professional, anyone in the communications business. This allows us to not only do storytelling in a new dimension, but it’s also a way for us to help our clients think out of the box, thinks creatively, and really explore in an innovative fashion. I love the report because, you know, today think in the storyline is, is the metaverse all hype or is the metaverse really useful or was the metaverse just a second in time and now just a fad? And think what you’ve done is really try to translate the inherent value of interacting in new domain, telling stories in a new way, in a three dimensional, four-dimensional, multidimensional way and I really thought it was brilliant. And I think something that every professional, no matter what sector you serve, should really be thinking about, right? How do we push ourselves as professionals to make things come alive in new ways? And that’s what the metaverse allows us to do.
DOUG: So much interesting stuff to unpack in what you said, and especially in context, and we’ll get to that in a moment of the work that you’re specifically doing. But even as we went through the process where, you know, metaverse for a week was the hot new thing before it, suddenly AI is now the hotter new thing on there. And we’ve seen major companies take a hit, Disney reducing that. So, you know, when you look at the word metaverse, sometimes it’s a bad thing. But think what happened is a lot of brands, organizations put these huge investments into these multimillion-dollar kinds of spaces that required specialized equipment that it immediately reduced their potential audience to a fraction of what it could be. So, you know, based on our experience, what different companies were asking us to do, the idea is how do you make it accessible and affordable so you can play in that and think this would be a great time to transition to obviously some of the great real estate properties that you’ve worked with and helped reach and some of the applications there that you’re seeing.
Sarah: Yes, the metaverse for real estate is still, in my view, incredibly valuable. To allow someone to experience a property of any type residential hospitality, commercial, to transport someone to any part of the world, and to do so in a like environment where you can interact with the space and interact with others in the space. I think it’s an incredibly valuable tool and one that is not a fad. I think that, you know, there are real estate companies who’ve invested in this. We have one client, a brilliant guy who is very under the radar, and he wakes up every morning at four in the morning and he experiments with the metaverse, in the metaverse for three hours until 7 a.m. when he starts his day. He has built his own platform; he has replicated their own properties within this company’s portfolio. He’s thinking about how the whole brokerage industry will be redefined, whether it’s residential brokerage or commercial brokerage. And I think really cutting-edge professionals will incorporate the metaverse as part of the technology package that they utilize going forward. I don’t think it’s a fad. It’s like any new tool. And for PR person to be able to tell a story differently. Sure, we use renderings in real estate, we’ve used 3D models for some time. We have a client that works in something called Digital Twins, which is another form of a digital replication of a building. But to actually put people in spaces, in specific places and times, I think it’s just it’s an incredible tool and is the real estate environment is changing so rapidly, you hear every day about how commercial office needs to be reimagined for the right environment to be able to experiment in the metaverse, to see how people interact with spaces and how they gravitate towards certain areas, to see how they want to congregate or work together or collaborate and do that in the metaverse is an incredible tool that we have at our disposal.
DOUG: Now, you’ve been so on the cutting edge of change and a dove or dived right in to it. Probably need an English teacher to correct me on that one. You know, not everyone has grasped on to. The possibilities yet. Do you have any advice? Because, you know, my particular view and what we’re hoping to do is make sure that PR owns the metaverse. You know, we got a little late when the web happened. It should have been a thing. Wasn’t definitely improved with social media, but the metaverse is really an opportunity for PR, so how do you discuss it with clients who maybe aren’t like your one special client that’s, you know, in there himself for three hours a day? How do you bring that topic up and help guide clients?
SARAH: I think with any new technology and something, you know, so kind of beyond the traditional right, there are some people who find it either scary or they make assumptions like it’s cost prohibitive or they think this technology was never needed in selling or leasing my building before, so why try it now? I know how to do this, or I’ve been doing it for decades a certain way. Um, but think sometimes it’s just about allowing people to experiment and test the waters, you know, really, I think there has been through the prop tech movement over the last 5 or 6 years, more owners and real estate investors willing to experiment with technology, like you said, I think there’s a little bit of concern now that metaverse was just a fad. And I think reminding clients that are focused on the built environment that this is an extension of the built environment, it’s only a different universe, the metaverse. You know, that is one way we introduce the topic. We have a client today. We’re working with a company out of South Florida called U Pix. They do lots of great interactive and virtual reality experiences for real estate. So, there are companies that are experimenting. But the metaverse, to actually be able to think about the metaverse as a whole, new landscape to lease and market and position real estate is a very exciting thing.
DOUG: It’s interesting that you talk about leasing because there’s also an application in the metaverse. What we did find in the survey that 71% of the pros who responded were actually planning to do something involving a metaverse environment with their clients this year. There are also opportunities to lease space, which we’ve done with Metaverse 3.0 for, say, press conferences or trade shows or events or journalist interviews. Rather than having to build your own, you had a chance to take a tour of our space. What were some of your takeaways?
SARAH: It’s really incredible what you’ve built. It’s really very realistic. I felt that it was a new way of interacting, but a comfortable way. And I thought the technology that you’ve built would be an excellent way to host an event. I think for us at the Berman Group, that’s what’s next for us. We’ve done, you know, throughout the past many years, we do events all over the country in international locations, we do events on project sites, on construction sites, and really have certainly explored hybrid and Zoom and all of that. And for us, the next thing is really to run events in the metaverse, to allow our clients to start interacting and forming relationships in the metaverse. I think a press conference would be an excellent way to bring people together and to share information, especially when you can reach such a large global audience at one time without, you know, other considerations such as travel. One point I really wanted to make, you know, your environment that you created was inviting. When I say comfortable, it felt warm and like I could access what you were presenting. Whereas I think many people’s misconceptions about the metaverse is that, okay, I just enter this weird room and maybe I can’t really access what I’m looking for. And it was easy. It was like, one, two, click and I’m right where I need to be and I can get information seamlessly and I could do so more efficiently and maybe creatively in terms of how I present myself, how I network or how I learn from presenters. And I think, that was just really a wonderful eye opener for me.
DOUG: Yeah, I appreciate you saying that because one of my favorite marketing stories from like old time marketing lessons were when an executive at Campbell’s Soup said, and this is before microwaves and all that, you know, why do we need to put directions, you know, put saucepan on stove, pour soup in saucepan, heat, you know, is the direction. Everyone knows that ,we can use that for more marketing space to increase sales from that. So, they did that and there are 800 phone number was overwhelmed with calls from people asking how do you make soup? So, my assumption it’s also based on my personal skill set and experience, like if it’s not directly told to me, yeah, I’m like, wait, do I do this? Do I do that? So, you really have to make it super easy to navigate. That’s a key thing and super accessible. If you can click on a link or get on a Zoom call, you should be able to go into the metaverse or you’re making it too hard for people. And I also think there’s a great opportunity to not just do pure Metaverse events, but when you talk hybrid, if you have any event where there’s access to video and access to a good Internet connection, you can then provide an opportunity for audiences to engage from the metaverse. I think that’s going to be a big trend too.
SARAH: Definitely. And I think what will happen is that people who are in the room will start getting curious about what it’s like in the metaverse and almost create that FOMO of, okay, I want to see what that’s like too. And so maybe you’ll have, you know, sort of an interchangeable experience where the metaverse is not just for those who can’t attend in person, but rather people will be able to experience both the live aspects of an event as well as the metaverse and see what those differences and advantages are being in either location.
DOUG: Well, this has been so great to speak to you. I really appreciate your generosity and congratulations on your success and what you’ve built and what you’re doing.
SARAH: Thank you so much. This has been a privilege. And I really, I truly hope that we can collaborate in the metaverse sometime soon. And I appreciate all the good work you’re doing to advance our industry. Doug, thank you.
DOUG: Thank you.