The mostly official blog of the Hodges Partnership and Hodges Digital Strategies.
April 11, 2013 | by Tony Scida
Last week, the long-rumored Facebook phone came to life as Facebook Home. It’s not an actual phone, but a replacement home screen and app launcher for Android. (The HTC First, announced at the Facebook Home event, does offer tighter integration with Facebook Home.)
That got me thinking: are we going to see other companies (not just social networks) following in Facebook’s footsteps to launch their own “phones”? Would that work? If, so how?
I think the best first candidates for a customized Android “experience” are brands that people already interact with on a regular basis already: retailers, entertainment companies or even news outlets.
Amazon is part of the way there already with their Kindle Fire tablets, and they’ve long been rumored to have a phone in development, but their approach so far has been to fully customize the operating system to their devices and not make those changes available to the larger Android community.
I probably wouldn’t want or use a phone customized for Walmart shoppers (or, really, any retail store), but what about an NFL phone? Or, maybe the defunct ESPN MVNO can be resurrected as an Android launcher. In fact, ESPN’s parent company Disney could get in on the game as well with a tween-safe Disney phone, complete with tight integration into their kid-focused social networks.
What brand-powered phone would you be most interested in seeing?2 commentsPosted in: Mobile | Social Media
February 12, 2013 | by Jon Newman
Speaking helps me think. Actually it forces me to think, especially given the fact that meetings, work and life sometimes doesn’t always allow me that luxury.
By speaking I mean speaking opportunities and the research that goes into them. At the end of March I’m speaking to PRSA Richmond about “content.” So when VCU PR prof extraordinaire Bill Farrar asked me to speak to his social media class yesterday, I jumped at the opportunity since it helped me begin to form my thoughts and frame my research.
After Googling about content, etc., I found myself drawn to a recent Google study on “multi-screening.”
This is the act of bouncing from screen to screen to do, well, everything we do. Some interesting facts from the study:
- 90 percent of all media interactions are on one of four screens (TV, PC/laptop, tablet, smartphone
- We spend 4.4 hours a day of leisure time in front of screens
- Most people use screens sequentially or simultaneously and how we use those screens inform everything from buying habits, to how we work, to how we consume media.
So now that I’ve drawn your attention to multi-screening, what does that mean for PR folks and marketers who work with brands every day?
Isn’t it bad enough that we’re all competing for the same social media real estate and that social media platforms are forcing us to buy ads to ensure our content breaks through the clutter? Now the very screens we use to consume information and be social in the first place may be the same instruments that are disrupting our social experience. Think about how different your Facebook experience is on a browser compared to an app, or even how your Twitter experience is from app to app. How can we make sure our messages (and our clients’ messages) are getting past the screen of choice?
The answer is we have to get better.
We have to:
- Force ourselves not to settle for ordinary writing and posting
- Break through the clutter with engaging imagery and videos
- Look for engaging stories and tell them better
- Post insightful and entertaining information to our blogs
- Promote all our content across all platforms and make certain that we’ve aligned it strategically and consistently
We just need to get better.
If not, our content is dead on arrival, if it ever arrives in the first place.
Can you get better? How? Please comment with thoughts and examples.0 commentsPosted in: Marketing | Mobile | Social Media
May 30, 2012 | by Sonali Shetty
The ultimate expression of "brand love" is an icon on the Home screen of mobile devices. Our devices are so personal and ubiquitous, that any apps we download and keep, are an extension of our identity. True enough that many of our devices are a junkyard for apps - long forgotten and seldom used. But others are so addictive, we wonder how we lived "pre app."
At HDS we just launched an app that I hope will be an incredibly handy resource for many people. Hilldrup Move Pro (iPhone/iPad), for our friends at Hilldrup Companies, is a full-featured moving platform. The app is a must-have for anyone contemplating a move. But, we wanted to make the app relevant to a wider audience. When creating a strategy for app functionality, we faced a unique conundrum. How do you extend the life of an app that is built around a discrete event? You want an app to be a valuable branded tool that people want to access again and again on their mobile device, right?
In looking into consumers’ moving patterns, we noticed that most people don’t unpack their boxes right away. (True confessions: I still have unopened boxes in my attic six years after stashing them up there.) So we created the ability for users to visually add items to their virtual box and even take pictures of their items, in order to document box contents. High value items can be immediately identified. Finally, users are able to create QR code labels to slap on their boxes. When a user wants to identify the contents of a box, all they have to do is to scan the label on the box and read the contents. Pretty Cool! Oh, and as an added security feature, to prevent just anyone from being able to read the QR code, only the Move Pro app on the original device that “packed” the box is able to read its contents.
Some other features and their long-range applications include:
- Ability to notify friends when you've moved - applies down the road if your phone number or e-mail address change.
- Currency converter. For people moving to other countries, this is super useful. And just as handy for people simply taking a trip abroad.
- Assign a task to a friend - "Honey-do lists" are finally mobile-ized!
Reverse search will be available in the next release. Here's how it will work - suppose I’m looking for that pair of red shoes I wear over the holidays. A quick search within the app tells me immediately which box those little babies are in. That means no more rooting through boxes to find what you’re looking for. This feature alone transcends moving – it puts a handy organizing tool at your disposal.
We’re pretty excited at what the Hilldrup Move Pro can and will do. Download it and let us know what you think. We’re hoping that MovePro will make it to your Home screen.0 commentsPosted in: Hodges Digital Strategies | Mobile | The Hodges Partnership
August 24, 2011 | by Jon Newman
Those who know me, even those who have just met me once or twice, know I bleed Scarlet.
It seems I was born a Rutgers Scarlet Knight with most of my family members having attended the State University of New Jersey.
My first memory of attending a sporting event is as a five-year-old jamming into my dad's green Chrysler New Yorker (the world's largest car) and riding to West Point to see the Knights face off against Army. He must have had to stop at least three times for me to puke because of car sickness.
Rutgers sports was one of my paternal bonds. I remember trying to watch basketball on New Jersey Network and trying to adjust the old VHS antenna to try to stabilize the picture and the snowy reception. Living in North Jersey back in the day, it was tough to get WCTC-AM, at the time the only radio station carrying Rutgers sports. So we'd stick the big transistor radio outside the window and contort our bodies in weird directions to get the best signal trying to listen to broadcasts in the Final Four year of 1976.
In later years (late '70s and '80s) my dad would do the same as he tried to listen to me as an undergrad, broadcasting football and basketball games on WRSU-FM, the student radio station. As I grew older, technology advanced, and I moved to Virginia and Tennessee. We'd be able to watch games on satellite and then listen to them online while sharing our commentary with each other on the phone.
When Tim Pernetti became Rutgers Athletic Director a few years ago, one of the first things he articulated was a vision for a broadband network where Rutgers fans could go online and watch games live, get taped interviews, etc. He also envisioned it as a training ground for student broadcasters. That was about the same time my dad's health began to decline and within the year he passed away.
As I have mentioned in this space before, it was only natural that we would honor dad by supporting KnightVision financially, helping its growth. As a result I was about to get to know Tim, Jason Baum, Colin Osbourne and others in Rutgers athletics who are passionate about expanding the reach of all Scarlet Knights sports through new technologies.
At the same time, we at Hodges were starting our new venture Hodges Digital Strategies, a social media and digital design and development company. Our main products beside social media consulting are Facebook landing pages and apps and mobile apps, particularly for iPhones and iPads.
For me it was a no-brainer and a labor of love to collaborate with Tim and his team on an app designed from the fans point of view. The main goal was to include the ability to embed the live streaming video from KnightVision (now renamed RVision) into the app so that fans could watch games and events on their phones and tablets.
After a year or so of fits and starts, today Rutgers Athletics announced the launch of the apps (they will be in the App store in about a week). This post is my way of thanking Tim, Jason, Colin and all the folks at Rutgers for the hard work, and thanking my partners and folks at Hodges Digital Strategies (especially Sonali and Pradeep) who willingly made the countless changes I request.
The app accomplishes two things, it make Rutgers sports accessible to its fans anywhere in the world and it shows the great capabilities of our new company. I'm thrilled on both counts.
For Rutgers fans, I hope you enjoy the app and its features. Please give us your feedback so we can make it better over time.
It's been a long time since I've had to stick the out transistor radio out the window, this app makes sure we'll never have to do that again.1 commentPosted in: Hodges Digital Strategies | Mobile
February 03, 2011 | by Jon Newman
Some quick thoughts on The Daily, News Corp's new iPad-only newspaper.
I love it.
Not because the content is great or the design is tremendous, remember people ragged on the first issues of USA Today when it come out.
I love it because, it represents the future of what dynamic, interactive, freshly delivered content CAN be.
I also love it because at a time when daily news delivered in a "news-a-zine" format is dying, here is a new fresh source of information.
Finally, I love it because as a media relations professional it is the equivalent of "cool fresh meat" for folks like us to pitch to and to get coverage for our clients.
Don't judge The Daily by its debut yesterday, wait a year and lets talk. I have a feeling it will be an interesting conversation.0 commentsPosted in: Media Relations | Mobile | Public Relations
January 10, 2011 | by Jon Newman
So did you hear the news?
It's the news we Verizon Wireless customers have been waiting for forever. Tomorrow, the buzz is that Verizon will announce it will start selling its version of the holy grail of smartphones, the iPhone (insert ooohs and ahhs here).
So I am perfectly positioned to be in line to make the switch as Verizon emailed me recently that I am due for a discounted phone upgrade.
I have repeatedly made it known to anyone who listened to me over the last year that I would make that switch when and if I could. I have in the past lusted over the iPhones of friends and colleagues. I have pestered an old friend of mine who works for Verizon Wireless over the last two years as each time I saw him I tried to pry the latest iPhone news from his brain. Sorry Brad.
So now on the eve of this major announcement I find myself.........slightly disinterested.
Second, many of the Android devices have similar firepower now and I at least want to see what they have coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show.
And finally, for all its splendor the iPhone has a nasty history of bugs right out of the box and I would think creating a version for Verizon Wireless' system will likely not go off without a hitch or two.
Don't get me wrong, there's still a good chance you may see me "Face Timing" in a couple of months. I just probably won't be the first in line in a couple of weeks with all the Apple fanatics.
Will we see you in that line? Let me know.5 commentsPosted in: Mobile
January 03, 2011 | by Jon Newman
So we gave my in-laws an iPad for Christmas.
I love my in-laws, but when my wife first suggested that we and her uncle go dutch on the iPad for my in-laws I gave her one of those looks.
You know the look.
My in-laws are wonderful but they're the folks in the family who needed me or my brother-in-law to come over to fix the blinking clock on the VCR.
But my wife consulted her uncle who swore that each of her parents played with his iPad when they visited him. So we bought the iPad.
And then an interesting thing happened, a week later we talked her my sister-in-law who said that each of her parents spent the whole week on the iPad checking the internet and playing games we had loaded for them.
And that is why 2011 will be the "Year of the Tablet."
Of course, that's not the only reason. This week at the Consumer Electronics Show, more tablets will be introduced to entice the masses. Some will be smaller than the iPad and others will run on the Android operating system. But they will offer similar alternatives that Droid phones have offered to iPhones. Experts expect tablet sales to quadruple in 2011. They have already eaten into the Netbook market.
And of course, that's all before the iPad2 launches later this year.
What does that mean for us in marketing and PR?
- We need to understand how people use their tablets. They are a great tool to check emails and for internet use. But it is through Apps that they really come to life. If your brand does not have an App you will be missing on the great tablet opportunity.
- If not an App make sure your website is optimized for mobile use. You may also want to consider how extensive you want to go down the "Flash" road, as flash-heavy websites are still no good for use on Apple products. This may be mitigated by the growing Android tablet market.
- If they are better "web-access" tools, they are also better social media platform tools, right? For the most part. It depends on how people access their social media platform of choice, through the web or through an App. For example, Facebook has a much richer tablet (and mobile) experience on the web than through Apps. On the web you can access custom landing pages, on Apps not so much. The bottom line is if you think of a tablet as a larger smartphone (more on that coming), and people use their smartphones to check in or update status, then the tablet provides a bigger screen and better experience to Facebook, Tweet, Foursquare, whatever...on.
- If you believe that the iPad2 will include two cameras, we are then just a short step away from your tablet becoming your videophone, with a much bigger screen. The new Skype App just released for iPhone is a step in that direction.
- The bottom line is there are two ways to look at how we communicate to folks online. First is which platform they use, websites, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Second is which devices they use to access them, desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets. Brands need to "be" on all these places and they need to offer what consumers and fans want, interactivity, information, offers, etc.
So if you agree that 2010 was the Year of Mobile, 2011 is the Year of the Tablet, or Year of Mobile2, the sequel. The tablet enables mobile but in a larger-screen way. For communicators who want to extend their brands, understanding how people use these devices is critical since people not only take them from meeting to meeting but from room to room.
If you haven't figured out a way for your brand to have a "tablet home" now is the time.
Would love to hear your thoughts.2 commentsPosted in: Mobile
September 30, 2010 | by Jon Newman
This post was fueled as many these days are by two things, a conversation with a client and our soon-to-be-announced new company.
The client conversation was focused on her initial interest in creating a mobile app (iPhone, Droid, etc.) to help promote her organization, what it does, etc. Using this app would also help her consumers navigate her business. After doing a great deal of research in her industry, the client and her team decided not to pursue the app strategy but to instead put their money into a mobile version of their website. They discovered that based on their consumer, what they do and how they do it, the mobile version of the site would be more helpful and more cost-effective.
So that got me thinking, given the "cool factor" of apps these days (everyone wants one and HAS to have one, it reminds me at lot of websites in the late 90's), is it better for a business or organization to invest in apps or to create a mobile site, a version of their existing website that is optimized for mobile devices. Since our new venture will help clients design and develop both Mobile sites and Mobile apps, we really don't have a "dog in this hunt" and we can look at this question objectively.
After a short conversation with Sonali Shetty, our partner in our new venture, here are some considerations to think about when weighing Mobile app vs. Mobile site:
- Casual vs. hardcore: Are you creating the mobile presence for a casual maybe one-time user or someone who you expect will come back often? If casual, you might consider the mobile site, if hardcore you likely will want to focus on the app because of its "richer" experience.
- Basic info vs. optimization: Similarly if you want the information to mirror some of the basic functionality of your existing website, then the mobile site might be the way to go. The mobile app by its very nature can and should be that richer experience with additional and enhanced functionality and information. It can include exclusive, stand-alone features such as games, widgets, offers, etc.
- Branding: Just by the very nature and size of the medium you have a better opportunity to brand with the app than you do with the mobile site, although each have their pluses and minuses.
- Cost: In this world of Apple, Droid and Blackberry in many cases you're not only building one app but you're building two or three and there is little economy of scale. The mobile site is just one element and since in most cases it is an extension of your existing website, it should cost less than the app.
- Access: The mobile site is available easily off the device's web browser. The app is available through a third-party like iTunes or Android market. In those cases, you need to get it approved by those third-parties before being able to offer them to your consumers.
So if you in charge of making these decisions in your organization what do you do? I would default to how you think most people are using their mobile devices. In my case with my Droid or iPad (I go both ways :)), I tend browse first and app second and if you look at either of my devices, aside from Paper Toss HD (greatest game in the world), you will see apps that pertain to my business and things about which I'm MOST passionate.
My takeaway from that is that the Mobile site is more of a must have and the Mobile app is more of a luxury.
What do you think?6 commentsPosted in: Mobile