Mobile Apps and the PR Pro: Insights and 9 Tools for Getting Data to Where the User Is
Mobility has become entrenched in business in general and in public relations in particular. And the mobile revolution shows no signs of slowing down.
It’s the result of a perfect, four-pronged storm: the 24/7/365 Communications Cycle meets Social Media meets iPhone, iPad and Android meets The Mobile Apps Explosion. And it’s the perfect recipe for productivity, responsiveness, or rethinking how and when we work.
The numbers are staggering. Smartphones and tablets have conquered the business world: 285 million people are expected to use smartphones in work settings this year; 93 percent of the Fortune 500 are using iPads, or seriously considering adopting them. Companies are issuing phones and tablets – or taking advantage of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement – and opening their own apps stores where users can download applications that make them more productive.
Mobile devices embrace a paradox. They’re so personal, portable, lightweight and companionable that they’ve become utterly and unconsciously pervasive. Yet they’re also so powerful: the apps they run seem boundless in their versatility, and when those apps are integrated with enterprise databases and applications they’re transforming business processes and businesses alike. PR is no exception.
The Priority: Open Access to Data
For PR people, the first and most important function for mobile devices is all about getting access to critical data anywhere at anytime. Our first priority when we mobilized the Cision Media Database was to set the data free.
Many of the other top mobile tools for PR people in early 2012 do the same thing. Here’s an alphabetical sampling:
- Bump and CardMunch, both from LinkedIn. Bump lets you swap contact information, your calendar, photos, social profiles, apps and more with others, and transfers info right to your contact list. CardMunch takes a picture of someone’s business card, converts it to a contact in your address book and gives you access to all LinkedIn information.
- Dropbox, the cloud-based file-sharing service that lets you access files and sync them across the mobile, laptop and desktop platforms you may use.
- Evernote, which lets you take, share and sync notes on the go – whether those notes are computer text, hand-written memos, audio files, web pages, or photos.
- Fuzemeeting, for video conferencing and screen-sharing of presentations, spreadsheets and websites.
- Google Analytics Mobile, offering on-the-go access to Google’s web traffic and marketing effectiveness metrics – along with a host of other licensed solutions like BAM Analytics, I Spy Analytics, Quicklytics and others.
- TripIt Travel Organizer, to help you manage your business travel and share itineraries with colleagues, clients, friends, family and social contacts.
- TweetDeck and HootSuite, to help you manage, update and optimize your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and MySpace presences, and WordPress blogs, on the go.
- Speaking of WordPress, it offers apps that let you blog anywhere, anytime. They’re available for iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod), Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7, Nokia and webOS.
- Yammer, the “enterprise social network,” that provides mobility to its collaboration functionality.
What We Learned: Setting the Data (and User) Free
In December 2011, we launched a beta version of the mobile extension to the Cision campaign management software platform. The first functionality that we mobilized was access (through the mobile web, rather than from a downloaded app) to the Cision Media and Influencer Database – the most comprehensive and up-to-date resource of its kind, and the crown jewel of our integrated software.
Putting our data where the user is came from months of conversations about mobility with our customers. We understood how smartphones have liberated us from being tethered to a “conscious” device like a laptop; people are free to use their phone anywhere for anything at anytime.
We had noticed a spike in the hits on our database from Safari – the native browser of Apple’s iOS operating system and thus a major tool for users of iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. That was a clear indication of the inroads that these devices have made among our customers in PR and marketing. And we also monitored the amazing market growth for Android smartphones – and began to anticipate their huge impact on business users, especially when a browser like Google Chrome is fully supported.
Go Where the User Goes
From our discussions, a user scenario emerged: The PR person – at a conference, trade show, or simply enjoying the freedom of movement that a smartphone or a tablet offers at their favorite coffee place – comes upon a story or engagement opportunity on a blog, an online news site, a social web interaction, a hardcopy source, or even after a phone call or face-to-face encounter.
Using their smartphone or tablet, they log onto Cision; search for the influencer or media contact in the database; check out the contact’s influencer rating (and determine their true authority on the topic that’s being discussed); find out the best ways to reach out – via social media, email or phone; digest all the profile information and engagement tips; search for similar contacts by geography, topic, industry or outlet; even use “reverse lookup” after a phone call to locate data.
The instant connection of mobility and the delivery of actionable data can empower PR people to engage appropriately – immediately, if that’s called for – with a contact, or strategize responses with clients and team members.
Data access is just the start of capabilities that will be mobilized in offerings like Cision in the near future. And the PR industry will witness an ongoing unveiling of new “native” mobile apps in company apps stores. Both will empower PR people to do their jobs more efficiently – wherever they may be.
Brett Safron (firstname.lastname@example.org; @bsafron) is Senior Vice President, Product Management, of Cision, responsible for the overall direction and development of Cision’s products and services.
Published: February 2, 2012 By: