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Up Periscope or Down Meerkat - will public relations dare to win?

Meerkatapp logo1I can honestly say I haven't been this excited about a new network or app since Twitter launched. With the advent of live streaming video apps, Periscope and Meerkat, a whole world of possibilities opens up for public relations and communication professionals - if they dare. And, the chances are,  these apps will be the tipping point that shifts us even further away from text to total visual communication.

In case you haven't caught them yet, Meerkat and Periscope have been slugging it out in the live streaming space for the last week. Meerkat, launched to much tech joy earlier this year, allows you to broadcast live to your community - and the world at large - as well as schedule and tweet the fact that your doing it.  So far there have been AMAs (Ask Me Anythings), people's breakfast, dinner and tea, think pieces, observations, kids, cats, dogs and camps. I've developed a liking for a few seconds of sunrise and have shared the sun coming up over Rangitoto with people around the world still struggling through the night before.  Meerkat was the tech darling until (key change) Periscope, bought by Twitter, was launched five days ago. It does the same thing, except your footage is saved for replay. As a Twitter product it's fast gaining traction, so much so that the tech world is predicting the death of Meerkat, even though it is still in its infancy. Personally, the Mark Twain quote (or misquote)  'reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated' could be applied here as there's life in Meerkat yet.

So, that's the scenario - what's the potential? For public relations and communication management, simply enormous. Live stream your story to your community as it happens.  Let them see inside your place warts and all. Manage your crisis comms as it unfolds. It is the ultimate tool for organisational transparency and, if you don't build it in to your communications, someone else will. Whether they stream their conversation with your receptionist, broadcast during a factory tour, or filming their hospital dinner, this new 'live tv' will become our reality and our norm before you know it.

At a PR training course I delivered in 2006, I introduced newly launched Twitter as an essential communication channel - and lifeline - for PR.  News, crisis, issues, customer care - you name it, Twitter had the potential to deal with it all and for the first time you could use a network from anywhere. Sadly, those attending found it hard to believe and were reluctant to experiment.  The video apps launched this year have the same potential for good - and for bad. Periscope is already proving to be the harsher, more unkind environment. Meerkat has the better quality streaming but then you can only save your stuff to camera roll. There are ups and downs with both. Whatever happens to them as businesses, as a channel, network or communications tool, together they've changed the game. Let's hope PR isn't so slow to get on board this time.  Go on, I dare you - get out there and experiment.