By Mandy Sevitts
Mobile applications are an up and coming trend when it comes to the public relations fields and social media outlets all over the country. People are no longer relying on their phones to just make a phone call to a friend, relative or colleague. These handheld devices are now miniature laptops that allow people to work with ease, as well as having the capability to send pictures, listen to music and browse the internet. The possibilities seem endless when it comes to mobile advertising done within the public relations department as well. With cell phones coming in a variety of types, sizes and colors, it allows the owner to have the freedom to pick out a personalized device as well (Wintour 2008). Phone companies utilize all of these advancements and see them as a chance to branch out to their consumers, in order to ensure their satisfaction with the product and loyalty to their company.
When the use of payphones quickly became unnecessary and the success within the mobile phone industry continued to grow, it became very noticeable that cell phones were here to stay. Within ten years, the capabilities of a cell phone have drastically changed. Text messaging was introduced to the public and had a tremendous amount of success. Being able to send a typed out message to another person’s phone, without actually calling them, was the first big step that was taken to make cell phones more useful. Within the last five years, our society has watched as the ever popular BlackBerry has swept our country with a high customer demand. BlackBerry products consist of Smartphones, which are integrated with software that enables access to a variety of data and communication services (Blackberry, 2009). The popularity of BlackBerry cell phones has been on a steady rise for quite some time now, and isn’t showing any signs of slowing in the future. Being able to access the internet on cell phones is the latest advancement that has taken consumers by storm. Out of all of the people in the US that have a cell phone, on an average day, 58 percent of adults use their phones for at least one non-voice application. These applications can be in a variety of forms, such as; text, e-mail, photos, looking up maps or directions, or recording a video (Perez, 2008). This allows for more opportunities with advertising, planning and customer service on behalf of the public relations departments of companies all over this country that are striving for success.
The trend of mobile applications is growing within the PR field for a variety of reasons. People in general are becoming more mobile when it comes to work as well as their personal lives which is the main reason why the mobile application trend is emerging. Cell phones are compact and provide a convenience for people with a busy schedule. By having more mobile internet users, it has caused a decrease in the usage of desktop personal computers, or PC’s. Mobile access to the World Wide Web has given more people the opportunity to work away from a stationary computer (Perez, 2008). Public relation departments have been known to have close ties with the advertising departments as well. This is because a lot of the time ads are one of the main ways that the companies reach out to the public. The growth of mobile applications can also be seen within the advertising field as it relates to public relations. Mobile and online advertisements have finally achieved their ‘places at the table’ in mainstream media plans, as they continue to prove their importance to traditional styles of media (Butcher, 2008).
Public Relation Professionals are addressing the emerging trend of mobile applications by simply utilizing all of their capabilities and putting them to use. For example, a company could utilize the ‘BlackBerry solution’ for its employees who own a BlackBerry Smartphone.
According to BlackBerry.com, the BlackBerry solution supports leading enterprise email platforms, and can be customized to meet the needs of one person or an entire enterprise, to any scale, in any industry (BlackBerry, 2009). PR professionals could utilize the BlackBerry solution in a variety of different ways, but its main purpose is clear. PR Professionals also see the financial benefit of investing their time into mobile relations and advertising. Total spending on mobile advertising by companies in 2008 was $530.2 million, which Gartner expects to grow to $7.5 billion in 2012 (Gartner, 2009). To invest an amount of money that large into a form of public relations is obviously going to provide companies with an extreme advantage in return, by being ‘in-tune’ with their consumers.
Mobile applications can be integrated into the global marketplace in a variety of ways for many different reasons. However, I found that the main reason why mobile devices prove to be the most beneficial is because of their speed and reliability. One major company that is known for incorporating mobile use across the globe, and affordable costs, is iPass. iPass is a company that combines world-wide remote and mobile broadband access with comprehensive management control over connectivity, devices and cost (iPass, 2009). This makes it possible to unify mobility management for the global marketplace. Having the advantage to communicate on a global level, gives PR professionals an even bigger range to work in. Being able to access people, companies and information all over the globe, is truly remarkable. Millions of people and companies choose to invest in iPass because of its ease and overall global capabilities within the marketplace.
When it comes to mobile applications and the various challenges and opportunities that they create for PR Professionals and the social media field, the results can be seen in numerous ways. The main opportunity that stood out to me was that of the many choices that people are given. By having a personal mobile device, it presents itself with so many choices and settings, that it can be overwhelming (White, 2008). However, by embracing the fact that the mobile application field is still growing and will continue to do so, it opens up a lot of doors for PR Professionals everywhere to utilize.