Second Life in Public Relations
Second Life involves virtual communication using objects called avatars. People use the various avatars in communicating with one another. According to Morley & Parker (2007) public relations practitioners should use second life since more people are joining the virtual worlds. This means a shift from traditional means of dealing with the company’s stakeholders as argued by Ndoye (2007). This is critical as one can reach others at the individual level. Similarly, if an organization is to use the virtual world, it must be prepared to spend more time on the internet in order to interact with others because many people are using the internet than before. Consequently, this broadens the organization’s scope of advertising and even attracting. The role of the PR is to ensure there is goodwill between the company and other stakeholders. The government public relations is undertaken through diplomatic channels (Ndoye, 2007). In this way, the PR must understand the audience and what they expect of the company (Sison, 2009, Ndoye, 2007). Therefore, an organization can be able to reach a variety of people (Ndoye, 2007) throughout the world using the Second Life approach. Hence, if it is an international organization it will be able to market its products and the company to a wider group.
An appropriate example of a company that uses Second Life is Coca cola which uses it in advertising and promoting its various products and particularly the bottled beverages (Mohr & Slater, 2010). Since most of the people using Second Life are youth, the company is able reach a larger group of people and interacts with them as the issue is of great concern to youth (Sison, 2009). Furthermore, there are more than 20,000 people on average logged into Second Life there is a high possibility of reaching them individually and also on a large scale by holding promotion tours and shows (Devereaux and Smith, 2011).
One of the key advantages associated with second life is that the company is not limited by space since users can access vast areas in a short time (Devereaux and Smith, 2011). Likewise, using Second Life is cheap and affordable for many organizations. Therefore, a company is able to maximize their profits with at a minimum cost by manipulating the audiences using diverse strategies (Ndoye, 2007). Similarly, the company does not need to travel large distances or set up multiple advertisements which are costly but all it has to do is setting up an environment in the virtual world to market its products (Morley & Parker, 2007). The company is also able to interact closely with the customers. This enables it to gather information more easily without having to conduct a market research in the real world which is too expensive (Ndoye, 2007). Therefore, the company is able to improve its products in accordance to the feedback and responses received from the customers given that the information obtained is first hand and trustworthy.
Moreover, coca cola can easily obtain orders from potential customers easily and distribute to the customers in good time. Customers are vital to the company (Sison, 2009, Ndoye, 2007). It’s also able to effectively communicate to the public in the virtual world without being a nuisance and any person interested will just take his or her avatar and get the updates on what is happening in the organization (Mohr & Slater, 2010).
On the other hand, there are numerous disadvantages of Coca-Cola using Second Life as a multinational company. One is that the products being sold are virtual and not real. There is no guarantee that the people will buy the products in real life. The company may be affected by age factor. This is because not all people prefer some of the company’s products. This may mostly convince and attract the young people (Rudestam and Read, 2010). The availability of the internet connectivity is sometimes low especially in third world countries and hence coca cola may not effectively market its products there. The company may need to invest in upgrading of the internet in those areas if it’s to get effective business on second life (Rudestam and Read, 2010). Many people may not be approachable or refuse to interact with the company. There may be a communication breakdown especially where different avatars are using a language that is not conversant with the avatars being used by the companies.
Monotony can arise especially where somebody is always on the internet doing only a specific task and not changing which may lead to disillusionment and poor quality of work done by the employee (Rudestam and Read, 2010). Staying on the internet for too long may detach the person from real life. Additionally, using Second Life may create unemployment since these substitutes the many people who would be hired to conduct the field research and marketing (Aronson, & Amos, 2007). Similarly, adopting this may lead to lay-offs which may have negative effects on social and economic lives of the employees laid off. According to Morley & Parker, predicting marketing in second life is hard and the course it will take is not really known.
Aronson, M. & Amos, C. (2007). The Public Relations Writer’s Handbook: The Digital Age (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Devereaux, M. M. and Smith, P.A. (2011). Public Relations in Asia Pacific: Communicating Effectively across Cultures. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Mohr, J. & Slater, S. F. (2010). Marketing of High-Technology Products and Innovations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Morley, D., & Parker, C. S. (2007). Understanding Computers: Today and Tomorrow (11th ed.). Boston, Mass.: Thomson/Course Technology.
Ndoye, I. (2007). Crafting the Image of Nations in Foreign Audiences: How Developing Countries use Public Diplomacy and Public Relations? Retrieved from iprrc.org/docs/IPRRC_12_Proceedings.pdf
Sison, M. D. (2009). Whose Cultural Values? Exploring Public Relations’ Approaches to Understanding Audiences. Retrieved from iprrc.org/docs/IPRRC_12_Proceedings.pdf
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