Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Increased smartphones sales makes us better writers

While the rest of the economy stumbles along, smartphone sales are humming right along. Best Buy and AT&T have sold out of their pre-order allotment of the iPhone 3G S and in some stores the Palm Pre was sold out within hours. Though some claim the tight supply was little more than a marketing gimmick, the point remains: smartphone sales are defining the dark force in the global economy.

The effects of the increase in smartphone sales have big implications for public relations and society. For PR, because smartphones have smaller screen real estate, writers must deliver tight subject lines, attention getting headlines and strong lead sentences. If you think readers skim through email quickly, the small font sizes on most smartphones make reading a chore and writers have to make the reader feel like the extra work is worth it.

The payoff for a good writer is that you can get your message read in more places and at more times. Smartphone users instintively reach for their devices whenever they are bored, have downtime or are stuck watching a dance recital featuring the pre-schoolers of others.

While marketers have more opportunity to reach more eyeballs, turning readers into buyers is still a challenging task. Good writers and strong writing have never been more in demand and fortunately for PR firms with all of the cuts in media, there are more good writers looking for work than ever. Yet, good writers don't always make good PR people.

Many media still think that working for PR is like taking a walk over to the dark side and they don't understand that in PR you not only have to inform, but you must convince someone to take action. And of course, some media people hate pitching or begging their former colleagues to take a meeting.

In England, crossing from working media to PR and back again is much more common and accepted. Of course, British writers also expect the agencies to pick up the tab at dinner or the bar, something their American counterparts think lessens objectivity. Across the pond, pay for play is A-okay.

So my question is: when will the changing media landscape usher in a new wave of pay per play? Perhaps a better question is, given how few technology companies buy ads in key publications, do their ad dollars already influence the tenor of coverage?

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