Gini Dietrich

Checking Out VR Content

By: Gini Dietrich | January 12, 2016 | 

Checking Out VR ContentBy Gini Dietrich

Last week, the UPS man arrived with an unexpected package from Cision. I opened it to find—what looked like—a broken view finder. You know, the ones from when we were kids where you inserted the disk and then clicked through the photos? That, but broken.


But I found some instructions on the back side and got to work on putting it together.


Turns out, it’s not a view finder at all, but a virtual reality headset to view VR content.


I let it sit on my desk for a week—because I wasn’t really sure what to do with it—but started playing with it on Friday.


What the Heck is VR Content?

VR is virtual reality. It places you in an environment where you can see everything around you in 3D. You don’t see just what the video producer or filmmaker wanted you to see. You can turn your head and see everything around you.

After I realized what Cision sent me wasn’t a fancy view finder, and that I had something in my hands that was pretty stinking cool, I began to do my research.

I first read, How to Get Started with Google Cardboard, and discovered I needed to download the Cardboard app on my phone so I could test out the VR content.


Then I inserted my phone and began to view. I looked around the jungle, I went inside a museum, I even went under the sea.

(Admittedly, it made me a little motion sick.)

As you turn your head, you can see what’s behind you and what’s to each side of you.

Imagine, if you will, you are checking out the Louvre through VR content. You walk up to the Mona Lisa and check it out, but then turn to your left and see paintings there. Then to your right, and the same thing. Then, you turn around and see a door, which leads you to even more art.

All in one experience. Without leaving your desk or your couch.

What Tools Do I Need to Create VR Content?

Now that you understand there is something here for storytelling and for content, let’s talk about what you need to do to add it to your content marketing plan.

  • Get a Google cardboard kit that will allow you to build a VR content headset. You can do like Cision did and brand it for your customers or influencers.
  • Download the Cardboard app—and tell anyone you send the VR content headset to to do the same.
  • Buy a 360 camera—you can’t shoot VR content without it or without a virtual reality gaming developer.
  • Start shooting video!

There are some challenges with creating VR content, of course. A 360 video or photo is not really virtual reality, but it’s the best way to make it easy for all of us to build VR content.

As well, video shoots are totally different. There is no more telling the story the way you want it told by framing the shots and using the best lighting and so on. With VR content, it’s up to the viewer to watch the story as he or she wants. He can look around wherever and whenever he wants, which means the major plot points very well could be missed.

You must reimagine the narrative.

How Do I Create VR Content?

I can see VR content working in so many different ways:

  • Let’s say you sell oxidizers, which are as big as two or three football fields. You want to give a behind-the-scenes tour of what it looks like not only to build one, but to travel inside one, as it’s being built. Using your 360 camera, you shoot from all angles and all locations, inside and out. This allows the oxidizer fans to really geek out on something they’d never typically get to see.
  • You’re going in for eye surgery to fix a childhood injury. Though the doctor has told you time and time again that it’s no big deal, you’re nervous. It is, after all, your eye. So your doctor tells you to check out their VR content, where they’ve produced video to show you exactly what the surgery is like. But, because you are in control of the narrative, you’re not watching the actual surgery, you’re checking out the operating room, listening to the doctor’s soundtrack, and watching how the team works together.
  • Your client is a cranberry grower and it’s harvest time. They are about to flood the fields so the cranberries come off their branches and begin to float. You pull out your 360 camera and shoot video as they flood the field and while the cranberries float to the top. It’s a stunningly beautiful piece that shows consumers a look at how their cranberry juice comes to eventually be.
  • You make hot dogs. No, never mind.
  • You make chewing gum. No! You make those new Ice Breakers that are not gum and not a mint (I LOVE them). I imagine consumers want to know how the heck they are made, particularly how the process is different than chewing gum or mints. Show them!

I could go on and on. The point here is that, with a $20 cardboard kit from Google, a 360 camera (which isn’t as cheap, but a nice investment), and your imagination, you can begin creating VR content right this second.

What other ideas do you have for creating VR content?

image credit: Shutterstock

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • I also got a VR viewer from a colleague at Christmas, which then kicked off a pitched battle among my three kids for ownership. Fortunately, I was able to score two more viewers at CES last week to keep the peace. Now my oldest is hoverboarding around the house while viewing VR clips. I haven’t found a business case for us yet, but definitely keeping my eye on the technology. (And being creeped out by my hovering, semi-robotic son.)

  • You’ve convinced me to try one but which one? There are so many options. Like rosermaryoneill, I’m not sure my clients will be using it anytime soon but things change quickly.

  • ginidietrich

    kevinanselmo Were your ears burning yesterday??

  • kevinanselmo

    ginidietrich from my kids after not seeing them for a weekend?

  • I’ve been wanting to get one of these and see they can be bought for a few dollars or up to $25. As for creating the content, I don’t know. Unless I’m seriously underestimating it, it seems this is an area, at least for now, where a company would really want to engage a pro instead of taking a DIY approach.
    I also understand events people are starting to find applications for creating cool audience experiences at conferences. Very exciting.

  • RobBiesenbach I agree with you about needing an expert to help design and execute a VR experience. It’s good for those of us suggesting it to clients to understand how it works and be able to work with our clients and VR experts effectively. I ordered my Cardboard from I am Cardboard ( and can’t wait to test it out.

  • EdenSpodek Oh, some of those are fance! I just love the idea of touring the Louvres without all those damn people in the way taking selfies and flashing the V sign!
    Also, this just came up in my feed — interesting perspective:

  • PJWright

    What a fantastic idea!!  Can’t wait to dig in and get ready to pitch it to my clients.  Thx Gini!!!

  • rosemaryoneill Does it make any of them motion sick? That’s what I had trouble with. Could only use it for a few seconds. And how has his hoverboard not blown up?!

  • EdenSpodek Did you get the Google Cardboard one?

  • RobBiesenbach I also understand some of the more expensive headsets take away the motion sickness. I imagine that has to be taken care of before it really takes off. I could only watch a few seconds at a time.

  • PJWright It’s pretty cool! I don’t think it’s a huge money maker for our clients—yet—but it’s worth a look.

  • HilmarieHutchison

    Thank you for sharing Gini.  Looks like something fun to try out!

  • HilmarieHutchison You should! And then report back!

  • I have been wanting to try this stuff. I am not sure what to think. On the one hand very powerful communication/storytelling tool. But would the numbers change in terms of corp content and the % of our consumption we currently make it (very low). So in terms of us actively using VR to engage with brands I don’t think it will be more than a spot need of the moment vs a conditioned activity. Just like a few brands do invest in media content that actually gets viewed a lot….we ignore most stuff (has to be over the top/unique).


    And I will drag @vinnywarren into this because this is where the 30 second spot leap frogs everything into the 22nd Century…..imagine watching a show or event with VR googles and when it is commercial break…..a VR 360 TV commercial. 30 sec spot is still the most powerful marketing format (struggle has been getting the views) this would amplify it big time,

  • EdenSpodek RobBiesenbach is that GMO free Cardboard?

  • ginidietrich rosemaryoneill now Gini doesn’t have to ski or bike she can do it from her couch.

  • This is going to make the Pornhub experience a whole new ball game. No pun intended. 🙂

  • Danny Brown OMG. A friend emailed me this morning and said, “Based on your blog post, I thought you’d like to see this” and linked to the Mashable article about VR porn.

  • Howie Goldfarb That would be AMAZING!!

  • Howie Goldfarb I wasn’t sure what to think until I tried it. So try it and then come back and let me know.

  • susancellura

    Very cool, and very exciting. Now, how do you persuade people to buy Google cardboard and download the app? I ask this as I think, “Okay – I can see using this for a client, but how do you persuade them that their customers will buy/download to see the product?”

  • RobBiesenbach Ooh, I may finally get to visit the Louvres. 😉 Thanks for the article. Yes, some of them are fancy, fancy. The View Master and GoPro versions are interesting.

  • EdenSpodek RobBiesenbach Only way I am likely to get to the Louvre any time soon.

  • PJWright

    ginidietrich PJWright  I’m not looking at it as a money maker.  Rather I think it would be a great way to show potential customers at an Outdoor Hospitality trade show what the RV Resort looks like.  It  has the uniqueness feature that would bring people in, would start the buzz and would help in marketing to the “younger” demographic.

    I could also see it being used to market bring in large groups.

  • PJWright

    Howie Goldfarb vinnywarren What about using it at trade shows?

  • susancellura You could do like Cision did and send them a reader…that’s all branded and pretty.

  • ginidietrich Danny Brown OMG

  • PJWright Howie Goldfarb vinnywarren That’s a good idea. I attend a trade show last year, here in Madrid, and one company used it. Of course everyone was at their booth to check it out.

  • DaniGirl

    I got a ViewMaster VR viewer just before Christmas and could immediately see use for it in my day job in government social media – immersive tours of research centres, for one example. I’m fascinated by the possibilities – feels like the first days of the world wide web to me. We can go everywhere from here.

  • DaniGirl YES! That is a great idea…and I agree, we have lots of opportunity. It’s exciting!