Networking 2.0: QR code Ideas for Business, Journalism and PR

When it was time for business cards for Ummah Relations, I decided to up the game and get ready for networking 2.0.

If you don’t know what that funny box is on the left hand side, it’s a QR code, a scannable image that can contain a URL, contact information, product discounts, or just about anything. Its more common application is to transfer a variety of information to your smartphone for use on the mobile web (so keep in mind that whatever you’re encoding should be mobile-friendly).

While some decry it as a “solution looking for a problem,” the creative possiblities seem endless. The format has been popular in Japan, although one blog article from last year reported QR codes on the visible wane on advertisements, billboards, etc. As commentors indicated, this may have to do with some of the particularities unique to Japan, rather than a wholesale dismissal of the concept.

I made a two-sided card, with the front’s QR card containing the firm’s contact info in a VCard format so you can scan it and automatically add it to your phone’s contact list (go ahead, scan the larger version on the left if you need to get a hold of me).

On the back, I embedded four QR codes: one for you to follow our Facebook page; links to our Twitter and Linked In; and, since YouTube is pretty mobile friendly, a link to our company’s introductory video.

It’s not about riding the latest fad or trend. While QR codes on business cards may still be something of an attention-getter, the true value is in being able to offer information and details instaneously at the right moment. If someone’s interested enough to ask you for your contact info, you can ensure via a QR code that they can record those details almost instantly — or, you can give them a regular business card and hope they’re not too tired at the end of a 3 day conference to remember where they stashed it. If you sense they’re just being polite, or you want to take the initiative and offer a card, you may have to downplay the bells and whistles and just casually point it out. Dont get caught in the buzz of the new and appear geeky and overeager; play it cool. As with anything, it’s just a tool, no more, no less.

You can also store the QR codes as a photo album on your phone and just pull up the corresponding one if someone needs to scan it. This could be a handy way to share newer or evolving content, without having to redo your business cards.

Whether you’re doing PR, journalism, or social media for business, a common element in all of these is the dissemination of useful content to your target audience — and using QR codes can be a valuable technique.

If you’re holding a press conference, for example, you can embed the QR code with a URL that houses the full text of the press release, additional photos or materials, etc. As more and more journalists use smartphones in the field and integrate with their outlet’s web division, this is a quick way for them to grab and store information and pass it on while in the field to their online editor. Otherwise, they have to wait for a fax or an email with an attached word doc., or worse yet, deal with a printed version and wait to they get back to the newsroom and give it to their online manager.

If you’re making a presentation at a conference, you can embed a QR code with a URL where attendees can download powerpoints, etc., since Powerpoints and PDFs are becoming increasingly viable on smartphones.

How to do it?

There are several sites that offer QR code generating, some for free. Google “QR codes” or “QR generator” and you’ll find a lot of resources. I personally used QR for some added flexibility in formats and archiving.

If you’re using QR codes, how? Let me know!

Mustafa Stefan Dill-- Ummah Relations