Mobile As A Content Platform
We have now seen how mobile technology enables connectivity and context for consumers and have begun to review those implications for public relations practitioners. The third ‘C’ we’ve introduced is ‘content’. And while technology underpins mobile content, the public relations professional needs to understand how mobile allows content creation and consumption.
From a content creation perspective, the biggest impact on the public relations industry is the rise of citizen journalism. This term was first used in response to the rise of blogging but now refers to a more widespread and significant phenomenon. The mobile device now means any consumer can become both witness to and reporter of events as they happen. With mobile devices that can take and send pictures, emails or messages to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, news can travel around the world in seconds with unfiltered clarity and often before mainstream media can get on the scene. “Remember Rodney King?” asks David Jones, referring to a video-taped beating of a civilian by police during the 1991 Los Angeles riot. “That was weird then. But it’s common place now. People have mobile news gathering and distribution tools with them at all times. You don’t know who has their eyes on you and where it could end up.”
Today, most major news outlets encourage consumer photo or email tips. An increasing number have Twitter accounts to gather consumer contributions and feedback. After a plane crashed into the Hudson River in January, the first accounts and photos from the scene came from a Twitter user named Jim Hanrahan approximately 15 minutes before mainstream media alerted their audiences. Similar ‘on the scene’ accounts flowed via mobile devices during terrorist attacks in Mumbai and earthquakes in China.
These examples are all major news events and it would naïve for the public relations professional not to acknowledge how the same dynamic could cripple their response to a crisis. “In marketing programs, we’ve used the viral potential of mobile to great effect. It’s easy to see how the same could dramatically impact PR response to an emergency. The good news is that mobile can also be used to respond in a crisis situation and regain some control,” says Brady Murphy. However, before looking at specific tactical solutions, we must acknowledge some important factors in communicating with consumers via the mobile channel.
Next Up: A Review of the strengths & limitations of mobile from a PR POV.
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