This is a guest post from Murewa Olubela, a recent public relations and creative writing graduate from the University of South Florida and former president of USF PRSSA.
Sept. 27, 2012, I got an email. October 13, I got a package. It came in a cute white box with a blue ribbon and a blue seal. I opened the box like a little child whose Christmas came early and found it: my Near Field Communication-enabled business card. With itchy hands and racing heartbeat, I picked up my phone, switched on the NFC and placed the card on my phone. Nada! It was blank. But it did not spoil my excitement. I started imagining professionals incorporating NFC in their public relations campaigns.
What is NFC?
NFC (Near Field Communication) is a short range wireless RFID technology that uses interacting electromagnetic radio fields instead of the typical direct radio transmissions used by technologies such as Bluetooth.
How NFC works:
NFC works in a similar way as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It employs the use of wireless communication and data exchange between smart phones, with a little difference. NFC uses electromagnetic field as the message usually is encoded in a magnetic circular stripe, called a “tag.” Users can swipe or place their smart phones within close range of the tag and receive the message encoded within the tag. However, do note that only NFC compatible devices can exchange or receive information from tags. The good news is that most phones, at least new models, are NFC compatible. iPhones, however, are not NFC-enabled. To find out if your phone is NFC-enabled, all you have to do is search through your connections, you will probably find it beneath the Bluetooth field, or you can check this Wikipedia page .
How to employ NFC in your public relations campaign:
I do find the quick response codes (QR codes) a little bit outdated, not dead but outdated. However, I do believe public relations professionals buried the QR code a little bit too fast while those who still use it often misuse it. NFC offers the perfect solution to the debacle of the QR code. To use NFC, you have got to:
Direct people to some special place/portal or provide some information that they might not be able to get otherwise: For example, my empty NFC business card should have contained my phone number, which normally is not listed on my business cards. For the NFC to work wonderfully, you’ve got to be creative about it. Do not use NFC to direct people to a company’s website. That will be waste of technology. Be creative in your approach!
Tap deep into your creative reservoir: seeing QR codes in weird places, where NO ONE is sure to scan them, annoys me. Also, most QR codes are often big black rectangular slab of dots: uninviting. Your NFC based campaign should NOT be about the NFC itself. The campaign should be about engaging your audience. Therefore, the tag should be the conduit and not the campaign itself. For this to work, you’ll have to get creative with where the tag will be placed and how to attract the audience to test it out.
Personalize and connect with the audience: This is one other thing that most QR code users failed to do and brought about the early demise of the technology. The NFC makes it necessary for campaigns to have personal touches. For your NFC-enabled campaign to work, you’ve got to figure out a way to connect with your audience on a personal level and get them to swipe the tag.
I predict that 2013 will be the year that NFC usage will increase. I can’t wait to read more articles on the technology and NFC-based campaigns. One of such is the Tokyo Pepsi ad campaign where two NFC tags were placed on two Tokyo railway lines. The tag offers travelers the chance to win free samples and access information about the new “fat-busting” soda drink. Imagine all you can do with NFC!