Inspiring Mavens | Peter Bowles

Peter Bowles, co-CEO and co-Founder of Dynamo PR has a wealth of experience working with brands like Microsoft, iPhone and Wii. The consumer tech expert shares his career journey, the evolution of Virtual Reality and the future of PR with The PR Insider.

What led you to pursue a career in public relations and consumer tech in particular?

I sort of fell into PR by doing a couple of PR stunts before starting PR as a career. Flashmob’s were taking off in 2003, so with a few friends we organised the Flashmob of David BlaineMedia came from right around the world to cover it and I ended up doing interviews with the Standard, London Tonight and 5Live. That stunt confirmed I liked creating a media storm and that PR could be a good career to do daily. My first agency was creatively brilliant – I worked with Richard Knight who now runs Mettle PR. I was working on lots of Science brands, but in working on the Science Museum’s gadget range I realized that promoting consumer tech was where I really wanted to be. My advice for anyone trying to start in PR is to try and promote what you really love, where your true interests lie and you’ll LOVE this job.

“My advice for anyone trying to start in PR is to try and promote what you really love where your true interests lie Click To Tweet, and you’ll LOVE this job.

 Most recently at Dynamo PR a Virtual Reality PR division was launched. What inspired this decision?

At Dynamo we’ve been early with lots of the big platforms. I remember working in-house at O2 for a little bit and showing some of their team Apps for the first time. Dynamo has crowdfunding and wearable tech divisions that have been successful for us and our clients – we’ve raised over £25 million in crowdfunding PR for clients now. We see VR as the next big platform. It’s still a little in its infancy, but the top end system, the HTC Vive is basically a real-life holodeck, so imagine the possibilities there! For marketeers in the next 10 years you’ll probably be able to visit virtual banks, galleries and shops. The possibilities are even bigger than apps on your phone, we believe. So imagine the future of this area.

With the Oculus rift now being made available to consumers, what in your opinion is the biggest implication of this commercial adoption of VR headsets for marketers and PRs?

Personally I prefer the HTC Vive, but Oculus is pretty good, too. Commercial adoption will take a while with the high end headsets costing over £500 and needing a pretty powerful PC. For PRs the implications may be similar to smartphones. It will take time but soon millions will have a system in the home that transports them somewhere else. So the implications for PR and Marketing -and client businesses – is to look at how best to use the platform for specific purposes. Could you put consumers on a beach if you work with a travel firm? I know Curzon work with some top artists – could you put their art in a truly immersive virtual gallery? I’ve seen a demo of people learning brain surgery in VR, so there’s even massive professional applications. This video here is one of the better videos that show how VR feels when you’re inside it.

 What new projects should we look out for from you and the Dynamo PR team?

It’s quite hard to talk about upcoming projects without breaking any embargoes but in the past we’ve created chocolate bathrooms , space trumpets for your phone and 3Doodled journalists Twitter avatars so we’re always trying to create something new. VR PR is obviously a big push for us this year. We’re lucky to work with a lot of the key people involved in its adoption, so watch this space for some fun projects there!

As the PR industry evolves what advice do you have for PRs looking to keep up professionally in regards to skills?

PR seems to have a confidence problem about up-skilling. For me you have to remember how much media and digital has changed in 10 years. I was early on Blogging, but no-one in PR realised its potential until a few years too late, so you had ‘social media gurus’ spring up after the fact. The best PR people are real opportunists – they see a trend, a new tech development or new media platform and work out how best to connect their clients to the story. They are curious and explore the potential, find out the quirks to new platforms and work out what skills they need from there. I’ve always felt you learn a lot practically on the job, but I’m very interested in how the PRCA are looking to make more training count towards CPD, so the changes Francis Ingham and the team have made there are well worth looking into if you’re looking to get a professional qualification in this industry.