Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Why doesn't The Guardian write about more Android apps?

Here's an interesting post in The Guardian's App Blog about why they review so many more apps for iOS than they do for Android.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Marketing Report from Android Marketplace

Here are some findings from a recent marketing report on the Android Marketplace:

  • Android Market developers publish most apps on average(4.38 active apps per active publisher).

  • 37% of apps have been deactivated since launch of the store, leaving nearly 320,000 apps available for download for users of Android Market.
  • In September 2011, Android Market added a recordbreaking 42,000 new apps.
  • At the end of September, 34% of active apps were paid, however, this month that figure is only 26%, which shows that developers are developing more free content than before.

  • Average selling price in Android currently equals $3.18.
  • Nearly 50% of newly added content falls into four top categories: Games, Entertainment, Personalization and Music & Audio.
The number of content in the games, entertainment, personalization and music & audio categories simply makes me think that one of the most important things that apps can bring to consumers is ways to make their phone very personal to them - the phone is both a diversion and a form of expression.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Readability of the Web and Press Releases

I was reviewing a company's press release the other day and the first paragraph was like my momma's Friday casserole: everything included.

It took me awhile just to identify the main ingredients.

When it comes to writing for your website or a press release, this isn't middle school composition class. Try to make each point as quickly as possible. Your sentences should be short and positive. Your paragraphs should include as few of those short, positive sentences as possible.

If you are listing the features of your app, rather than jumbling a paragraph with descriptions of your features, try breaking them out of the sentence and into a bulleted list. People have trained themselves to scan copy for the information they are looking for. Bullets are much more scannable than blocks of text.

One website I wrote that provides an example of writing in short, readable bursts is

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Does your PR rep need to KNOW the media

PR folk like to tout all the personal contacts they have in the media. I certainly do that when I'm approached about helping mobile software companies, because I've been working in this field for over a decade and happen to know some folks who write about mobile tech.

Those contacts are certainly useful sources, but they're not the most important asset a PR person should  bring to the table. From my experience, there's so much turnover in the media and the amount of blogs that come and go that relationships I may have had last year are completely pointless this year.

If your news is newsworthy and targeted to their particular "beat" then there's a good chance they'll cover it whether they "know" your PR rep or not. When considering hiring a rep, just remember this winning rule: media relationships are nice, but their ability to communicate and strategize on your behalf is even more important.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

12 Things to Remember When Pestering - Err - Pitching Bloggers

I saw this post on and thought I'd re-post. Once upon a time, a blogger liked my approach to blogger relations so much that it spurred a blog post on the topic. I should try to find a link to it sometime. In the meantime, enjoy this one...I thought it hit the highlights of the craft quite nicely...

12 things to remember when you pitch to bloggers

Pestering bloggers—it's a PR rep's time-honored tradition. A client has something to announce or show off, and PR reps go out of their way to get attention of bloggers. But what's the best way to approach them?

At the recent PR Summit in San Francisco, the following four bloggers and I tried to answer that very question.
  • Ryan Singel (
  • Jolie O'Dell (Venturebeat)
  • Beth Spotswood (SFGate, Huffington Post, and CBS)
  • Michael Leifer (Guerrilla PR)
Here are 12 tips and arguments that came up during the discussion:

1. Keep it short and sweet. Far too many email pitches have endless copy. Ryan Singel was really impressed with a particular five-line pitch. It's OK if you have more information. Just send it once the blogger expresses interest.

2. Avoid ALL CAPS, jargon, and the term "press release" in the subject line. All the bloggers said they delete any emails that have "press release" in the subject line. Plus they get annoyed with all caps and industry jargon.

3. Personal is best, but bloggers will accept mass-mailed requests. Bloggers definitely appreciate the personal approach where the PR rep knows the bloggers, what they cover, and what they're interested in. Though they understand the problems with "spray and pray," they are still receptive to mass-mailed requests, provided they're on target.

4. Getting on a blogger's radar is a win. Just because someone wrote about your competitor, that doesn't mean they want to write about you right away. In most cases they won't, but it's still really valuable to get a competitive product on a blogger's radar. Even though it's not published right away, you need to count that as a win for your client.

5. "Me too" or "not me too" comments on blogs. The bloggers showed annoyance for people who left "me too" comments on a blog post, a.k.a. a comment that says, "Oh, we do that too" with a link to the business. They find the practice annoying, and I agree that blatant self-promotional without additional insight is irritating. But I believe if someone is writing about a competitor in your space and you don't leave a comment, it's a missed opportunity. Realize that anyone that reads that post is pre-qualified to being interested in that subject. Take advantage of that real estate, and place yourself in the conversation.

6. Don't call. Seriously, don't call. Once again, all the journalists agreed that they hated when PR reps call to make a pitch. Their biggest pet peeve is the call to ask if they received the email they sent. One PR rep, Ken Shuman from Trulia, asked, "Why are bloggers so allergic to phone calls? You call us when you need something."

Ryan Singel responded, "You're right; it's not fair."

7. Urgent requests are OK, but use them sparingly. Bloggers are receptive to urgent requests and respond to words like "Urgent," "Quick Fix," or "Time Sensitive" in the subject line. But be judicious of your urgent announcements and requests. Bloggers admitted that some PR reps took liberal advantage of the urgent requests and as a result been filed under "cry wolf" reps for which all future requests are ignored.

8. If a blogger writes your story, a "thank you" is enough. Don't do anything overly effusive as that will break ethics policies at the outlet. A generous gift, even a fruit basket, and then the blogger feels like they're doing you a favor, and that's not their job.

9. Media requests can come from anyone. The bloggers don't care if it comes from a PR person or an executive of the company.

10. Email is the preferred means of communication—but not always. On this panel there was a lot of disagreement as to whether you should use Facebook, Twitter, or some other social avenue to pitch a journalist. All the bloggers argued that PR pros should not invade their social space and should stick to email, although that decision should be made on an individual basis.

In my interviews with people on how they manage their social networks is that each person has a very clear definition—which stays in his or her own head—as to what each social network should and shouldn't be used for. If you cross that individual's unknown line as to what's right or wrong, then you will definitely offend and possibly get unfriended. Tread carefully in social spheres.

Some are more responsive in the social space. I do know of cases where Twitter is the preferred form of communication. For example, members of the IT security industry have embraced Twitter and appreciate using the microblogging platform over email, explained Matt Hixson, formerly of Tripwire, an IT security company. A message sent to a security journalist via email might take days to get a response. That same request sent via Twitter will probably get a response in minutes.

11. Follow up emails are OK. Bloggers admit that they do sometimes miss emails that they're interested in, but it doesn't happen often. They will accept a follow up email, but if they don't respond, then accept that as a "no." Bloggers don't have time to reply to every email with, "I'm not interested."

12. Act like a journalist if you want to talk to a journalist. Marketing-speak definitely doesn't win journalists over. If you write and talk like a journalist, then you'll be read by a journalist.

David Spark is a journalist, producer, speaker and owner of the custom publishing and social media firm Spark Media Solutions . A version of this article originally ran on his blog, Spark Minute as a report for Interntainment Media.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Social Media Rules

   In high school, I really wanted to be cool. I swerved from Hawaiian shirts with Jams, ala Fast Times at Ridgemont High, to preppy with boat shoes, argyle sweaters and feathered hair. Swerving from trend-to-trend in an effort to be “cool” didn’t work for me in high school (ask just about anybody in the Shawnee Heights class of ’85!), and it doesn’t work any better for many companies trying desperately to build a cool and culturally relevant brand via social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

   Don’t get me wrong – having a Facebook “Page” can be a very effective communication tool if a substantial number of your customers spend time there. Probably for most mobile app developers, a huge chunk of your customers are on those sites every day. Even more importantly, though, is that you’re willing to put the time, creativity and energy into feeding your Page with enough useful information that will cause customers to make use of it and, better, to share it with their friends.
   But, even if they do, will your Facebook Page inspire your customers to click on your links and download your apps? Will the friends they shared your Page with become avid customers of yours? Only if sprinkled liberally with pixy dust!

   Most people hear “social media” and think they must do it because it’s the “cool thing to do.” If you think creating a Facebook Page or Twitter account and blasting out ditties about the latest specials you are offering on your apps is going to bring you fame and fortune and earn you a Featured spot in the iTunes App Store, you’re missing the point.
   The key word in “social media” is “social!” Your Facebook page is an extension of your relationship you have with John and Jane Q. Customer. It provides you a chance to listen as well as talk back.

   One of my clients is the brains behind GoodReader, the phenomenal document viewer for iPhones and iPads. I help them manage their Facebook page by keeping the app’s fans abreast of new features coming out and responding to their “wish lists” of new features that they post to our Wall. It’s amazing how many times we see posts that begin, “GoodReader is amazing! If only it…” and what follows “it” is always something different.
   GoodReader’s Facebook page gives us the opportunity to fine-tune our brand message, adapt the app based on feedback from its biggest fans, and sometimes tell them why certain wishes can’t and won’t come true (like why there will likely never be a GoodReader for Android).

   Getting to know your customer and responding to them is an essential aspect of your social media strategy. My friend and web marketing consultant, Mark Murnahan (check out his blog at, says that “customer modeling” is invaluable to being successful with a social media strategy.
   “Customer modeling involves creativity, analytic thinking, and data,” Mark says. “If you do not have the data to tell you who, what, where, when, how, and why people will respond to your marketing, you need to create it. Without knowing how to reach the right people with the right information, you may as well skip all the rest, because your time and money will largely be wasted. Worse yet, it can damage your brand value.”

   Take the time to find out who among your customers are on social media, what they would want from you, and how they would respond to it. Then, and only then, are you ready to put on your pink IZOD, flip up your collar, don your Ray-Ban shades, and be the cool kid with a Facebook page.