According to PR Week US, Text 100 is set to launch a permanent presence in online social network Second Life by opening an office on its private island, the first global PR agency to officially do so.
Here’s the full story with my own comments – as you will see, there are some intriguing possibilities here.
The Text 100 office in Second Life includes three stories*: a welcome center, an information center, and an amphitheater, where Text plans to hold various internal and external events. The office will feature an avatar of Hynes, which will give an overview of the agency.
As the old line went, on the Internet, no one knows you are a dog. Here’s a great way for busy PR CEOs to be in several places at once – having someone "man" your avatar in a virtual world could provide more bandwidth to time-strapped PR supremos.
There will not be any sort of mandatory scheduling for Text 100 representatives to occupy the office, said Hynes, but she envisions the potential of having a global company meeting there, rather than dispensing information through a conference call or e-mail.
But will they get paid in real dollars or Linden dollars for their time in Second Life?
Better still, why not hire Second Life avatars to man the office? I’m sure Text’s Linden dollars might go a lot further here than in the real world.
Hynes added that the firm’s inroads in Second Life would better enable clients to take advantage of opportunities there and, potentially, lead to new revenue streams for the firm. It plans to launch a campaign with an undisclosed client soon.
Just wait till real world client’s start pitching up in Second Life – you could have a whole parallel world with virtual PR agencies pitching for virtual client business. Better still, could have the pitch process as a shoot em up – my avatar against your avatar – outside (virtually), now!
Hynes declined to discuss the agency’s Second Life budget, but said that the expense will be treated as an ‘innovation and research’ cost, rather than under the category of a new office, which comes with correlative revenue expectations.
There is a rich vein of creative accounting to be had here – rather than have an offshore tax haven, why not have a cyber-shore haven? ie incorporate a business in Second Life and then just transfer all your profits and assets into the virtual world? I’m sure those clever guys at Enron would have considered such a wheeze if Second Life had been around at the time.