Tag Archives: public relations practices

Confessions of an iPad convert

In February, I blogged the question: does not having an iPhone or other smartphone make you a bad PR professional? I kind of didn’t have an answer, because I wasn’t sure how I felt. Well, now I have an answer: yes. And my solution? An iPad2.

Four months ago I said that I wasn’t sure if I was being as effective a PR practitioner as I could be without the right props. In my new role doing public television media relations and social media, I knew I had to work on my props. Immediately.

Why the iPad? I did my research to figure out which tool would work best for me. It’s a personal decision, based on more than the idea of jumping on a bandwagon or just wanting the latest toy for the sake of it.

iPhone: I knew the iPhone wasn’t for me. I enjoy having a phone that I can drop and not worry about breaking; or stick in my sports bra when I’m jogging (I know, TMI); or accidentally lose and not cost me hundreds of dollars. The iPhone would force me to put too many eggs in one basket, so to speak, and I didn’t like the idea of that.

Other smartphone: I had a Blackberry last year and didn’t like it. It was hard to set up initially. Figures, when I did get it set up and began liking it, I dropped it in the toilet. (Refer to “too many eggs in one basket” observation above.)

Netbook: Although I’m very fond of the size of netbooks, it wasn’t an ideal solution because I needed Internet access at all times. Mostly, I needed it at home, since so many places have public access to wifi. I certainly could set up Internet at home…but then what if I’m not home and also somewhere without public wifi?

Portability was also a top priority. I needed whatever I chose to be light, not awkwardly shaped, and always ready to be put into my bag and whisked away.

There are so many brands pushing their tablets and sort-of tablets. For me, the iPad was a clear choice, especially in light of the iPad2’s release. Apple makes dependable products and offers good customer service (even if you do have to be on hold for a little while). I got the 3G model, so I’m never without Internet access. The monthly plan is less expensive than home Internet. [The data plan is limited, however, so we’ll see how much data I use of my 30-day allotment. Will it be enough or not enough?] Getting the wifi-only model would defeat the purpose of getting an iPad; I could have gotten a netbook, which would have been less expensive.

The iPad has a camera, which is so important for social media managers. Photographs and short videos are the most important content on social media, so having the tools to produce both is essential. The note-taking app (i.e., word processor) is smart and simple (I’m blogging this as a note first). The entire device is fast and small and clean. It’s an excellent and ideal tool for any PR professional to have.

This post is dedicated to Laura, a new higher education marketer, who was in the same technology boat as I was several months ago. I hope this helps her!

P.S.: I got the white one.

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Does not having an iPhone or other smartphone make you a bad PR professional?

What do you call a public relations professional who seems to be going backwards technologically…a bad public relations professional? Does always having access to your personal social media accounts and e-mail, and also the social media accounts of your clients, make you a better practitioner?

The level of technology and accessibility a PR practitioner needs depends on the type of practice she maintains. A PR account executive on retainer for a large corporation who could need crisis communications management at any given time needs to be attached to her gadgets day and night. Of course, one could argue that any PR practitioner might need to turn into a crisis management communicator at any given moment, which is true. For that reason, basic accessibility is absolutely required, which goes without saying.

Recently, I downsized from a smartphone to a basic cell phone. For the time being, the days of my e-mail alert waking me up in the middle of the night and the need to check it regardless of where I am or what I’m doing are over. At first, admittedly, I was scared. What if I received an e-mail Google alert of some media story that contained damaging information for the college where I work, and by the time I get to it around 8:30 a.m. the next morning, all hell’s broken loose because I’ve not done my job? What if someone posted something damaging on one of our social media sites?

But I was also excited to be free. My leash was lengthened. And I’m not entirely without access to the information I need to do my job outside the office from nine to five. I have wireless at home and a laptop. You know, the basics we all lived without until a few years ago. And, I’ll admit, I check my e-mail several times at home before I go to bed, and I check it often on the weekends. PR is a 24/7 job, so it’s a rare case that we can completely be incognito for any period of time.

I’ve also fallen in love with my e-mail again. I go into work each morning kind of excited to see what’s there. Along with this technology downsize, I also purged my work and personal e-mails: unsubscribing from anything and everything I either automatically deleted or marked to read later but never, ever did. So when I get an e-mail, it’s most likely legitimate business, not a waste of my time. Which makes me a more productive PR practitioner.

All that said, I sometimes feel like I’m not as legit a PR professional as I could be because I don’t have the right props. What do other PR professionals think? Is it all relative, or is there a rule for PR pros across the board?

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