An APPetizing Lunch Program with IPRA

Rita Mhley

Rita Mhley

I had the pleasure of attending the Independent Public Relations Alliance (IPRA) monthly lunch program yesterday.  Each month, this group of independent communicators presents speakers on various topics.  Yesterday’s topic was about how to use smart phone applications for marketing and public relations campaigns.

Jeffrey Goldscher and Lucinda Crabtree

Jeffrey Goldscher and Lucinda Crabtree

Presenting were Jeffrey Goldscher of the sports marketing company Aquarius Sports and Entertainment and Lucinda Crabtree of the marketing communications firm Crabtree + Company.

Mr. Goldscher and Ms. Crabtree had some fascinating facts and insights to share about “apps” or smartphone applications.  These types of applications work on iPhones, Android mobile phones, and Blackberry smart phones, as well as on certain devices like iPads.  One challenge with developing these applications is creating versions that work universally on all these devices.

Mr. Goldscher emphasized that when considering adding an app to your PR and marketing tool kit, you should first ask yourself who will be using the app, how they will use it, and what you want the app to accomplish for your company (e.g., drive traffic to your website).

He said that the apps that have real staying power are the ones that offer useful functionality, such as “Gate Guru,” an app that helps you navigate airports, and the TripAdvisor app that helps business and leisure travelers.  He had success developing apps that allowed people to get updates about their favorite sports teams.  Banking was also mentioned as an industry that is natural for app development.  Companies and organizations that target people in developing countries, China, and Africa need to strongly consider apps, as many people in those companies use their mobile phones as their main connection to the Internet (since they don’t have computers).  Ms. Crabtree’s firm developed the “LRN the Lingo,” an app that helps parents translate abbreviations found in teen texts (to help identify incidents of cyber-bullying).

The presenters opined that investing a sufficient amount of money in development, research, testing, and promotion was important to the success of an app.  Although apps could be produced for as low as $25,000, or even $10,000, they felt a minimum investment of $50,000 was more realistic.

Another budget-friendly approach is to partner with a company that already has an app that is reaching your target audience.  Banner advertising linking to your website is a possibility on some apps.

On the other hand, there are ways to build your own app for free, without coding, such as AppMaker.  The presenters reminded the audience of the design and functionality limitations of do-it-yourself solutions, and to keep in mind that the app represents a brand, and if it doesn’t deliver what it promises, it can reflect poorly on a brand.

Promoting an app is critical to its success.  Ms. Crabtree mentioned that about 1/3 of her investment went into development, while 2/3 went into promotion.  Both presenters felt social media and blogger outreach were good ways to promote an app.  Mr. Goldscher also mentioned that you could add the app logo to print advertisements, in the way that people are adding Twitter and Facebook logos. They also mentioned that offering apps for free is not always the best idea.  Charging 99 cents or $1.99 is one way to keep people from deleting apps from their mobiles after they download them.

Claudia Askew and Mary-Jane Atwater

Claudia Askew and Mary-Jane Atwater

I was happy to see six Fletcher Prince clients at lunch!  Among the attendees  were Susan Rink, Heathere Evans- Keenan, Claudia Askew, Rita Mhley, Sherri Singer, and Mary-Jane Atwater.

It was also great catching up with Lynn Miller and meeting communications student Jared Webb.

John O'Dwyer and Vicki Robb

John O'Dwyer and Vicki Robb

I also met Vicki Robb — an independent consultant who specializes in media relations — and John O’Dwyer of O’Dwyer PR.  Mr. O’Dwyer kindly brought complimentary copies of his magazine for all of us.

The meal itself was also enjoyable.  The Embassy Suites of Tysons Corner always puts out a nice spread (today, it was breast of chicken, salmon filet, Caesar salad, sauteed vegetables, pilaf, rolls, tea and coffee, with strawberry cake for dessert).

Robert Udowitz and Robb Deigh, you were missed! 🙂

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About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a public relations and marketing consultant, and owns Fletcher Prince (www.FletcherPrince.com). Follow Mary on Twitter @FletcherPrince.

Posted on November 5, 2010, in IPRA, Marketing Tips, Social Media Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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