The launch of the iPad was phenomenal. From a PR perspective it was extremely successful. Twitter and blogs went into overdrive, trending topics regularly contained some sort of iPad reference: usually iSlate, iTablet or Apple & Tablet.
The blogs were full of videos of what people thought of the tablet, and live blogging took place like never before.
To use the soundbite ‘it just works’ that Apple chose to use over and over in the keynote would be a good reflection of the PR hype that went on; it just worked, it got people excited.
However, the iPad will not be the only tablet device, in fact there are many alternatives soon to come. Google is planning one, which is potentially huge competition judging by its Android technology and Chrome OS.
Whenever I open up my Eee PC net-book I am greeted by the webpage for the Asus tablet. Tablets are going to show up fast, and will soon be as common as an mp3 player. Apple just hopes the iPad controls the market just as its iPod does.
For the newspapers and magazines the wide variety of tablets will bring about a wider readership. It could be argued that they will have to develop their content for different systems, which is time consuming and costly, but I am sure they can afford the process.
In fact it is great news for traditional media. The opportunity to update and modernise has finally arrived. Again, you may argue this happened with the internet and their websites.
But it is now that they can finally charge users for the service, whilst providing a service that users will most certainly be willing to pay for.
A great example of how game-changing this is for traditional media is Sports Illustrated. They have released a video of what their application will look like on a tablet computer. The app includes fantastic interactivity, hours of video and thousands of images per issue which will be extremely enticing to the reader. Why buy the magazine, when for the same price a reader can be given so much more, directly to them within minutes by a simple download.
Traditional media, mainly the factual newspapers, have found the internet a bittersweet experience. The websites get plenty of hits, and new readers join every day. However, the news they provide comes free of charge, and very few take up the paid options.
Publishers will soon have the opportunity to not only charge for each issue, but to make even more on additional content. Sports Illustrated shows a live betting game in the video demo; fun for the reader, profitable for the magazine.
So long as the traditional media embrace this new format, they will soon reap the benefits. To do so however, they must first do the following:
✦ Create quality applications. If the app is no good, people won’t pay. These products will get rated, they will get reviewed, and there will be plenty of alternatives.
✦ Provide plenty of extra content. Why subscribe if the app has no more than the paper format? In fact, why purchase a tablet if apps will not be better than their paper counterparts. While there are other factors that push people towards the apps, like instant download, readers will want something to show off about.
✦ Avoid making the new format complicated. Just like a website packed with flashing images and pop-ups, an over-crowded app will put people off. The navigation must be simple, in the same way a website should be. It should be obvious how to get to the content a user wants. Simplicity is key.
Once they have completed the above, they should become very successful. Then it is time for the PR industry to worry.
Now for the interactive media release
Just as with the social media boom, this will provide new channels for public relations. But just like social media, it’s adding et more media. One press release cannot be used for all different formats, it would be too generic to use anywhere. Press releases and social media releases must differ, and now ‘interactive’ media releases must come into existence too, and differ from their counterparts.
Interactive media releases, to be effective and become published, must be a complete package. While PR practitioners do not have to put together the code and build the apps themselves, they must provide the content required.
There will be two main areas of content necessary for a good Interactive Media Release.
1. Plenty of images, one great shot is not enough, and all shots must be front page worthy, as the images are likely to be in some sort of slideshow.
2. Video must be included, it must be relevant, HD quality and provide different angles – for example, in the Haiti crisis there were many 360˚ videos, and I expect apps for tablet computers will embrace this technology.
Readers are going to change over to this new format. This is not going to be instant, it may take years, even decades, but the in the future, newspapers will not exist in paper format. So let’s embrace the technology now.
Here is one final thought on the subject. Readers currently go from the front page to the back page of a magazine or newspaper. The apps will be personalised, so readers will adjust the content order and skip out entire sections. PR must be even smarter than before, to reach every individual on the right page, most relevant to them and the PR goal.