The Internet of Things: Transforming PR Challenges Into Marketing Gold

Although it’s not a new concept, the Internet of Things (IoT), a term coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999 and popularized by Cisco in the early 2000s, is a hot topic in many industries right now. IoT is used to describe the integration of internet technology into “things” or objects, often called connected devices or smart devices. This technology has gone from smart phones and televisions to smart cars, smart cities, and even smart refrigerators, making lives infinitely easier than they once were.

IoT has the potential to impact the world greatly, and numerous experts have predicted a massive influx in the number of connected devices. In fact, that number is predicted to reach at least 50 billion by 2020. Meanwhile, research firms like International Data Corporation predict that the worldwide IoT market will exceed $7 trillion.

But what impact will this new revolution of connected devices have on PR professionals? We can assume a few things:

TRUST WILL NEED TO BE RE-ESTABLISHED

Some early adopters are already leaving a trail of negative feedback about their smart devices. As if the 1999 movie Smart House didn’t tarnish the concept enough, reports show that smart home owners are responding negatively to the complexity and cost of the technology as well as the inability to self-service and the lack of tech support services for devices. In addition, security remains a concern, as most of these devices contain access to personal data.

As the technology continues to advance and improve, PR professionals must strategically iterate the benefits of connected devices and explain how the positives of connected devices can outweigh these few negatives. For example, how many times have you locked your keys in your car? Or how many times have you forgotten to lock your front door, turn off lights in your home, activate your security system, or adjust the thermostat? All of these things can now be addressed through the use of smart devices, improving the quality of life for consumers in various ways.

DIGITAL STRATEGIES WILL NEED TO BE COMPLETELY TRANSFORMED

With companies like Google and Amazon advancing technology to the point where you may never need to visit websites in the future, digital marketing strategies may end up doing a complete 180. Where would you place digital ads if no one visited websites anymore? Perhaps you would integrate them into smart devices and virtual assistants like Amazon Echo, allowing them to be read aloud before the device answers a question. What if that question happens to be the number for the local poison control? What type of ad would accompany something like that? These are the types of questions the IoT will provoke. Although most cases won’t be that extreme, strategists will need to brainstorm the most effective ways to market their brands to effectively take advantage of this new communications medium.

TARGETED CONTENT WILL NEED TO BE EVEN MORE SPECIFIC

With the increasing amount of connected devices, big data will play a larger role in marketing campaigns. Connected devices will absorb consumers’ data like a sponge, and companies can extract that data through business intelligence. This will allow companies to target their campaigns to individuals based on unique user preferences. Because of this, companies can utilize IoT to attract a great deal of new customers and retain current ones. This could translate to billions of dollars in savings and revenue.

Content will also become increasingly important. With the ability to target specific audiences and individuals, PR pros will be challenged with the task of crafting compelling messages that address highly specific interests – a potentially difficult feat.

The IoT will completely morph the digital landscape, and PR professionals will need to adjust. Fortunately, adapting to new methods is something our industry knows well. We’ve done it time and time again over the years. The IoT just presents another opportunity to advance our clients’ messages and help them connect better with their better-connected customers.