Mobile media and PR

I am not a PR person, nor do I play one on YouTube. But it isn’t hard to see that mobile media is rapidly altering all parts of the media landscape — not just news and entertainment, but also public relations, media relations, and marketing communications.

This week I’m speaking at several sessions about the implications of mobile media at the Annenberg school for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Their event is Mobile News Week 2011.

On Feb. 28 I’m addressing two PR classes. I’ve done a little research to spot some trends and resources, in addition to the mobile overview I posted earlier: The mobile landscape: 10 things media pros should know.

Here are some interesting tidbits about mobile and PR…

Unpack “PR” to spot mobile opportunities

Several disciplines fall under the “PR” label: media relations, crisis communication, public affairs, campaign outreach, and crossover with marketing communications. When you’re planning a mobile strategy, get specific about which PR hat you’re wearing in a particular project, and then parse out your overall goals. Only then can you figure out whether, and how, to achieve those goals — including determining which mobile devices and channels are popular among the people you wish to reach.

Keep your audience’s sensibilities in mind. For instance, if the people you need to reach are journalists, think carefully about how to contact them via mobile media. E-mail is a powerful channel for mobile as well as computers, and journalists are more likely to check their e-mail on their phone than launch your app or visit your web site. And they’ll probably really hate it if you try to text them.

Get a shortcode for text messaging campaigns

Text messaging (opt-in only, of course) should play a key role in your mobile PR strategy, since it’s the common denominator among virtually all mobile devices. The The Common Shortcode (CSC) is the foundation of all commercial or promotional text message campaigns in the US. This system helps keep the mobile recipient in control of inbound messages, and it helps keep marketers, advertisers, PR pros, and others accountable and in compliance with anti-spam laws.

Owning your own shortcode isn’t cheap, it costs about $500/month. But if you’re using mobile in a serious, sustained way, if you’re working for a major org or brand, if it’s crucial to your communication strategy, it’s worth it to invest in your own shortcode.

There are services where you can use a shared shortcode for much cheaper, like MobilizeUS, which offer shared shortcodes. These are OK if your organization or group has very little budget, or if you just want to experiment first with text messaging before launching a big program.

You can get one from the US Common Shortcode Administration.

Mobile Marketing Association resources: CSC primer, and Consumer Best Practices (which includes information on how to comply with US anti-spam laws and other requirements).

Create a lean mobile-friendly web site

…Or at least mobile-friendly landing pages relevant to the communities you’re trying to reach. These URLs are the links you’ll want to promote via text messaging, e-mail alerts and newsletter, and social media — since people use these channels on their phones.

Use print and broadcast to support for mobile

Mobile is all about engagement, so it’s a natural (and more valuable) next step after someone encounters your brand or information.

Include QR codes in your print materials or advertising, and make sure they link to mobile-friendly landing pages. Mention your shortcode in broadcast ads. Make mobile a key funnel for guiding people through your engagement process.

What about apps?

In most cases, you’re better off creating a mobile web app than a native smartphone or tablet app. It’s less expensive to develop, and you don’t have to develop for multiple platforms. Its functionality may not be as rich or slick as a native app, but that just means you need to think extra hard about what you want to achieve and focus on that goal.

Mobile users usually want to DO stuff, rather than read or watch stuff (at least for very long). So if you make an app (web or native), don’t just use it to deliver content. Focus on actions, tasks, rewards.

PR Newswire has an iPhone app. Do you think many people, even journos, would really use it? I doubt it. Press releases are not compelling content.

If you do PR for a tech-heavy industry, such as software or gaming, then you might want to consider an app. But even then, be realistic. Who’s gonna want an app for your press releases or executive bios? No one. People want to DO stuff with apps. Focus on apps that allow people to do something that THEY value. Work within their interests and goals. You are not your audience.

More resources:

Global Results Communications: Example of mobile services offered by one PR company. Most of what they discuss here would work on most phones.

One thought on “Mobile media and PR

  1. Pingback: This Week in Review: Google’s content farm crackdown, Facebook’s new comments, more TBD lessons » Nieman Journalism Lab » Pushing to the Future of Journalism

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