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Immersive Tech Meets Sustainability

By Sheila McLean, NA Citizenship & Sustainability Practice Director, MSL

Much has been said and written about how immersive tech will transform the communications industry, ushering in a new era of evolved storytelling. While that is true, it will also considerably impact – and transform – social purpose in sectors like food and beverage.

Imagine, for instance, an Iowa corn farmer who uses GPS technology to determine exactly when, where and how much water to apply, data analytics and just-in-time soil analysis to provide guidance on which nutrients should be added to his fields. Then imagine that you can immerse yourself in that farmer’s life, making decisions about how to use the land, water and resources and experiencing the consequences of those choices — from your sofa.

That is exactly what Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies will allow us to do. Consumers will be able to understand first-hand how sustainable agriculture is transforming the food industry, and conversely, these technologies can be used to help farmers better understand consumer choices. New technologies allow us to go beyond storytelling to deliver immersive experiences, redefining social purpose in ways that connect more immediately and deeply to consumers, employees, policy leaders and other stakeholders.

Helping drive sustainable behavior with the virtual, the augmented, and more

Business leaders increasingly recognize the need to integrate social purpose into corporate strategy to build trust, brand preference and engagement. For some brands, it takes years of credible action, combined with focused, integrated communications campaigns to achieve that. But new immersive technologies make the world – and our differences – smaller. They provide valuable and customizable perspective, which leads to a more powerful understanding.

So a Mom who worries about how the corn in the tortilla she serves her children was grown and how much care the farmer took will have a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the many decisions made along the way and their impact, from all angles. And the farmer will have a new appreciation for the concerns of the Mom. Essentially, all the stakeholders involved in the process – from manufacturers and growers to consumers – will experience direct benefits from the adaption of immersive technology.

Immersive technologies help us move from sharing content to sharing experiences, creating new opportunities to bridge differences and drive true impact.

This article is a part of “PR 2020 The Dawn of the Augmented Influence” published by MSL’s People’s Insights team that covers the latest trends in engagement on both the consumer and corporate side.

Sheila has extensive experience in CSR, sustainability, issues management, media, corporate reputation, advocacy and public affairs. She leads the agency’s award-winning Citizenship and Sustainability practice. Sheila has worked on social and environmental initiatives throughout her career, from her days as a reporter covering the issues to helping clients build and protect consumer brands, launch new initiatives and navigate the complexities of stakeholder engagement.

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For more information contact Pascal Beucler, SVP & Chief Strategy Officer, Global, MSL and Melanie Joe, Consultant – Research & Insights, MSL