Moving to Mobile: Tips for PR Pros on Creating a Winning Mobile App

December 20, 2011
— by Shawnee Cohn, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/NY

Shawnee Cohn

If you think mobile apps are solely for fun and games, think again.

A recent study conducted by Flurry showed that consumers are spending more time on their mobile applications than on the Internet. The tablet revolution is changing the way in which journalists tell stories, as well as how they prefer to be pitched.

However, PR pros do not have to sit back and wait for their clients to generate media coverage. Smart businesses can ‘go mobile’ by creating their own apps to connect with customers and build their brand.

Here at Business Wire, we launched our very own mobile app so that our news content can be easily accessed from any location.

Leaders in the industry insist that PR professionals must not only learn about mobile app development, but also take advantage of the opportunities it offers to increase brand loyalty.

However, not every application hits a high note, and many have failed in the past. So what is the formula to create a successful mobile app?

Recently the International Association of Business Communicators/NY Chapter hosted a panel covering the ways in which brands can utilize mobile strategy to strengthen their PR, communications and marketing efforts.

The panel featured:

  • David Weiner, Digital Media Manager, PepsiCo
  • Lou Tosto, SVP Digital & Mobile Sales,
  • Sarah Meron, Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Communications, American Express Company
  • Adam Carey, Client Services Director, Imano
  • Nicole Kuritsky, Senior Manager Emerging and Social Media, Rodale

The group of mobile marketing experts had a wealth of beneficial tips to offer regarding best mobile practices. Here are some key take-aways:

The customer is key: The panelists agreed that positive user reviews are highly influential when it comes to the success of your app. Make sure that your design allows for both a seamless and engaging user experience. Also, keep in mind that including polls and surveys within your app can be a valuable tool to help you learn about your audience.

Ask yourself, “Do I need an app?”:  Sarah Meron of American Express notes that brands must consider whether their application creates a new experience for the user, different from that which is available on the original website. Will your iPad app offer value that the customer cannot find on any other platform? David Weiner of PepsiCo commented that brands should first place emphasis on becoming mobile-friendly before beginning the app development process. You might be convinced that your app is the first of its kind, but take a thorough look at the various stores to make sure an app similar to yours does not already exist, suggests Nicole Kuritsky of Rodale.

If you build it, they might not come: Building an app does not necessarily guarantee that customers will automatically rush to download it; thorough marketing and PR efforts are still as critical as ever. Make sure all systems are go before the app is live, and remember to include a link to the app store in whatever marketing materials you release to promote the new development. Adam Carey of Imano also suggests including a casual game within the app to spark the interest of potential customers. But be careful before you try to create the application yourself; development is a complicated undertaking. Partnerships with mobile consulting firms are the “name of the game,” and you “will fail if you try it yourself,” according to Sarah Meron of America Express.

 For more information on the IABC New York Chapter , visit You can also get the latest mobile/wireless news by registering at

Tablet Takeover: Five Reasons the Devices May Change Journalism and PR as We Know Them

October 25, 2011
by Shawnee Cohn,Media Relations Specialist

MRTIt is difficult to dispute the notion that tablets have revolutionized the way we consume media. Recent research estimates that 28 million people in the US own tablets. It has been found that tablet owners spend 40% more time online daily than those who do not own tablets.

We know tablet owners are using these devices to get news, in fact Business Wire recently launched our very own iPad news application in response to the popularity of this mobile platform.  Increased usage of tablets for news consumption raises the question: What are the implications of this new trend for PR professionals and journalists?

In a recent post on the PRNewser blog, Carm Lyman of Lyman PR discusses the benefits that tablet placement offers PR professionals. Lyman states that when pitching tablet features, multimedia is a necessity, as well as an excellent opportunity to increase brand awareness and reader engagement.

Many communications professionals agree that while print journalism sometimes limits the ability to tell a story by only offering text and/or photos, the tablet can improve your brand inclusion by giving readers a powerful multimedia experience.

Some journalists believe that tablets require a new approach to journalism – one that leaves behind the linear model for a story and incorporates video, audio, and other interactive graphics that heighten the reader’s experience.

For an insider’s perspective on how tablets have affected journalism and PR, I spoke with George Jones, editor of TabTimes. Launching this fall, TabTimes will cover tablet news and be exclusively distributed on the iPad. Having previously served as editor in chief of Maximum PC magazine, Jones has extensive experience with both print and digital platforms. He offered five key reasons why tablets are a major part of the futures of PR and journalism:

On how storytelling has changed with the switch from print to digital: The core approach has not changed much; Jones still draws inspiration from all angles (publicists, reader submissions, etc). He feels that tablets meld the best of the print and digital worlds. Tablet journalism takes print and “activates it,” with the added ability to embed images, videos, polls, and other interactive elements.

On the benefits of tablets for PR professionals: Jones believes that tablets offer more opportunities for features news. Stories can be published that consist mostly of images and other multimedia. He estimates that about 60% of TabTimes content will include features on how businesses are using tablets.

On whether PR pros need to pitch an interactive element: Personally, he believes multimedia is not a necessity. Jones maintains that “a good story is a good story” and he is willing to “hear any pitch.”

On how to get your story on TabTimes:  The editorial team is currently focusing on how tablets are being deployed in the workplace. They want to hear about “interesting apps that allow people to do interesting things.” Jones notes he is also interested in preview coverage of the tablet industry, in other words, “what’s coming as opposed to what’s out.”

On what’s next for the tablet news industry: The tablet industry is “exploding, in a good way,” according to Jones. While the iPad is clearly dominant, he says that the Lenovo, RIM, and Cisco tablets do have a shot at becoming more prevalent in the future.

Additional information can be found at or via @TabTimes on Twitter. You can also get the latest consumer electronics and tablet industry news by registering at


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