Mobile, PR and social media

As a member of the CIPR’s social media panel, I volunteered last year to coordinate production of a guide on “Mobile and public relations“.

Mobile & PR coverAfter persuading a few others to contribute, I wrote about half of the document, which was published on the CIPR website in November, and launched via a Tweetchat the following day. (I was attending, and speaking at, another conference – Constructing Excellence’s “Image of Construction” (post) – on the same day, so I ended up participating in the Tweetchat from the back of the CE event, being careful to use hashtags to keep my tweets relevant, confusing a few followers who wondered how I could be at two events at the same time. The power of mobile computing, you see…..).

Despite the SM panel’s involvement, the guide is not just about social media. It aimed to give an overview of the importance of mobile devices in a rapidly evolving PR world. Gone are the days when a phone was just for voice calls and texts, and while these remain important, many people now use their phones and tablets as extensions of their PCs or laptops, accessing websites, email, documents, sharing photos, sending Tweets, Facebook messages, Linkedin updates, etc or using a huge range of other apps.

New channels to create and consume

PR people are no different in this regard, but the spiralling use of smartphones and tablets, coupled with the growing availability of broadband (3G, 4G and wifi), and a maturing “Generation Z” who don’t remember a time before phones were mobile, has meant PR professionals now have to consider mobile communications in their work. For example, the guide points out that a high-end smartphone is now capable of delivering broadcast quality content:

Technology and social media has combined to enable anyone to become an online broadcaster, reporter or commentator, and any organisation caught up in an incident or a developing crisis can no longer ‘control the message’. This is also creating new challenges for PRs and for organisations used to dealing with ‘traditional media’ when it comes, for example, to allow members of the public to record proceedings or live-tweet from courts, council meetings and other events.


For PR people, the more mobile world means they need to be thinking about how their target audiences consume news and other content. A news release may no longer be the key deliverable; photos, video clips and other downloads may be needed to meet different intermediaries’ requirements. Organisations may also be distributing content more direct to stakeholders, posting it on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube and other places where it can be quickly shared.

The guide also covers some specific areas including:

  • creating user-friendly content for consumption via mobile devices (thanks to Dom Burch)
  • how mobile is changing internal communications (thanks to Rachel Miller)
  • hyperlocal services enabled via location-based services, including tools such as QR codes and iBeacons (Dom, again), and
  • mobile-aware event management (thanks to Joanna Halton).

(If you are interested in some of these in a B2B context, I will be talking at this year’s Workplace Trends Social Media for Business Conference in Westminster on 12 February).


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