Between You and Me, There's PR

Exploring, learning and using social media, public relations and marketing.

Don’t make the QR code fail list March 6, 2012

Oh how I love Yesterday, Mashable published an article titled “10 Funniest QR Code Fails,” a shortened version of the website WFT QR Codes. As both titles suggest, the article and website poke fun of the way people and companies use QR codes. Often, the strategies are not fully thought through.

About a year ago, I wrote a blog about QR codes.This was the first time I had ever been exposed to them and I wanted to learn more about them and how they were going to be applied in the future. In full disclosure, I was required to blog about industry news for my class, and my classmates were required to comment on each others’ blogs, but looking back, just one year later, it’s quite humorous to see how far QR codes have come! Here are some comments from my classmates as we first discovered QR codes:

As a class full of seniors, we were obviously fixated on the potential for QR codes helping us get jobs. They are still a great tool for networking and showing your knowledge of technology, but QR codes have become so much more than just a square with your email attached to it, as evidence by the WTF QR Codes website.

Marketers want to put QR codes everywhere. I actually had the experience of witnessing one of the fail images right near my home! The Air Force Reserve’s billboard had great placement- on a road off the highway and near a shopping plaza; however, the fact that it had a QR code was just asking for an accident to occur. Here is the image:

By the time you realize there is a QR code on the billboard, pull out your phone and open the application that reads QR codes, you have already crashed or driven past the billboard.

The key to QR codes is not to use them wherever possible because you feel you have to. I remember in my advertising class everyone tried to implement them into campaigns because it was the new thing, but a smart advertiser must consider:

1. Am I endangering my target audience by requesting them to use my QR code? (See above image.)
2. Will any one see this QR code? (WTF QR Codes shows some in areas that do not have cell service or are on top of buildings!)
3. Does my QR code offer new and important information? (Why would someone click on the QR code? Is there a coupon or exclusive content?)
4. Does a QR code fit with the nature of my product? (Don’t embarrass your consumers by making them scan a QR code to find out information about bed bugs!)
5. Is my QR code actually scannable? (The QR code shouldn’t be a moving target!)
6. Can the QR code be replaced by a hyperlink? (If you are online, using your phone to scan a code is far more work than clicking on a link.)
7. Does your audience know how to scan a QR code? (Chances are, older demographics do not.)

QR codes have great potential, but there has to be more work for consumers to fully understand how to use them and marketers to use them appropriately. We consumers can cope with the fact that there is not an opportunity to scan a QR code at the dinner table. Relax.

Before jumping on the QR code band wagon for a future campaign, think about the strategy, placement and value of your QR code. It’s great to indulge in the newest form of marketing, but it hurts to be included on “10 QR Code Fails”.

For more QR code hits and misses, read my earlier blog from Ozarks News Journal and check out Planned Parenthood’s #Wherediduwhereit campaign featuring QR coded condoms!


QR Codes: Scannable business cards November 13, 2010

A few weeks ago in our Missouri State chapter of PRSSA our executive board was really excited about something called a QR Code and how it can make your networking life a breeze. Lost? I was. Time to rewind and research.

A QR Code looks like a complicated maze  and serves as a unique link to information, a video or website.

According to Mobile-Barcodes, “The acronym QR is derived from the term Quick Response. The company Denso Wave originally spawned the term QR as the creator intended that such barcodes and their contents were to be decoded at high-speed electronically.”

A QR Code is similar to the bar codes you find on products at stores because both barcodes because stored information can be retrieved by scanning/ taking a picture with your phone.

Consider a QR Code like a hyperlink on the Internet, but is a 2D picture that can be put on a tangible item you can hold outside of the online world. For instance, a movie poster QR Code would show a movie trailer when scanned.

Other ways companies and people are using QR Codes is to link to a website, coupon, video or contact information. As a student beginning to network for jobs, I found the vCard especially interesting.

A vCard is a QR Code that stores all of your contact information. To create one using Nokia, it asks for your name, phone number, organization, email, title, address and website. This is an excellent and creative way to create a business card because you can store the image to your computer and print it on a business card to hand out.

I am definitely learning as I write this blog, but as far as I can tell, a QR Code and vCard can be stored as text, immediately as a contact, as the website or as an image depending on the application the person you are sending it to has to read it.

Mobile Barcodes has an excellent comparison list of QR Code readers that you can explore to find the best one for your needs. While some are free, there are others that cost anywhere from $.99-$2.99.

vCards and QR Codes can be printed on stickers, t-shirts, business cards or anything you can imagine. I can definitely see this trend picking up in the next few months as more people begin to use it. If businesses begin engaging their audience with QR Codes it will grow immensely. For now, I am still learning and wishing I had a phone with this capability.

Here is a video example of how this all comes together:

Would you use a QR Code?

Find out more:

Here are a few resources I found useful during my quick research for this blog:

Fun fact: Thanksgiving break begins in one and a half weeks.


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