Smart Mobile PR? … There’s an app for that!

Posted on May 23, 2011. Filed under: Public Relations | Tags: , |

These days, mobile should figure into virtually all of your communications programs. Channels used to reach out have become fractionated just as Web 2.0 tactics started to make sense. So, now it’s the mobile channel’s turn. The whole framework of the Web is based around the idea that everything is in a compatible format. Now with iPhone, Android-based devices, Kindles, iPads, Xooms and TVs connecting to the Web, that’s no longer true.

After years of hearing that this year is the year of mobile PR, 2011 will probably be the year. Here’s why:

According to data from Morgan Stanley, global shipments of desktop PCs will have remained virtually flat from 2005 through 2013. And, while notebook PCs will trend up over this same period, smartphones will have overpowered both categories in terms of worldwide shipments by 2013. In fact, it is estimated that next year, global shipments of smartphones will outstrip notebook PCs for the first time. And in countries with savvy technology users, such as Japan, mobile page views are dramatically eclipsing desktop page views.

This is essentially an Internet land grab by mobile devices, especially Apple products like iPhones, iTouchs and iPads, which are ramping up aggressively. Whenever there are major share shifts in technology, there are always big winners — and big losers. Indeed, this should prompt PR professionals to look inward and question whether they are leading or lagging. Are PR pros asleep at the switch? We know the PR industry is still grappling with the shift from traditional media to social media. Making matters more complicated, in comes a whiplash swing to mobile. And unlike their marketing brethren, public relations practitioners have yet to fully exploit mobile’s opportunities. But why is this so if mobile is how people are increasingly consuming media?

Sometimes PR is about how to influence stakeholders without the use of media. Still, according to the findings of a PR Week / CC Group survey, respondent data shows that using mobile to reach these influencers can be a complicated business. And significantly, 61% of the 28 tech and business media journalists surveyed said that they prefer desktop tools to mobile ones when it comes to reviewing PR material.

But this may be changing, as there is a growing body of research to support that journalists leverage the blogosphere and social media sites for research and story ideas.

Brevity is bountiful: To be more mobile and global going forward, PR pros need to structure their releases so that they’re shorter, more concise, and with bullet points rather than a release of corporate gobbledygook loaded with every key message. And according to The Hodges Partnership co-founder Jon Newman, marrying “PR with apps … and making sure your Website is optimized for mobile and increasing brand exposure on SM platforms will help you crack mobile devices.”    

Almost as important as the message itself is the channel that is being used to push it out. The message is important, but if it doesn’t get out via a medium that will reach your end user and in a format that will be relevant, then the message really doesn’t matter, now does it? If money follows eyeballs in marketing, then influence follows mobile in PR.

Brian Panton is a report writer and quality assurance specialist based in Washington, D.C.

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