How Can PR Take Content Distribution Into the Mobile Age?

In the age of the smartphone, using traditional email press releases to reach your target audience can feel a bit like performing brain surgery with a pair of scissors. So how can PR make sure the right message hits the right people at the right time—content and all?

Earlier this year we interviewed PR veteran Jeff Corbin on theIRapp, an application that helps those in charge of investor relations stay in touch with the people who matter most. At this week’s PRSA International Conference in Philadelphia, Corbin unveiled a new version of his product called theCOMMSapp, which he designed to serve the needs of a wider swath of the PR/corporate communications discipline.

Before the event, we had a chance to talk to him about the new product and about the PR industry’s need to go mobile ASAP. In the simplest terms, Corbin says it’s all about taking the message to them rather than making them come to you. Here are some excerpts from our conversation:

What led you to create theCOMMSapp?

After we released theIRapp, I asked whether we could create a variation for other purposes like pushing content out to all employees within an organization, etc.

theIRapp is for public companies that need to distribute stock info, etc. Private companies, on the other hand, are more concerned with making sure their content, promotions, research PDFs, audio/video, etc. reach the right people. That’s what theCOMMSapp does.

What’s the problem this new app is addressing?

As a comms pro myself, I realized that email marketing campaigns are passé. Now the key to messaging is push, not pull. When a user visits your client’s website, he/she is pulling and taking a proactive step to get information. But if the client or another organization has a defined audience, they can use theCOMMSapp platform to reach them via mobile. The audience doesn’t have to do anything because you can push the information directly to them, wherever they are.

You don’t even need an Internet connection, just a smartphone.

(PR rep Alison Crisci also notes that the only people who receive this data would be those who downloaded your version of the app, so there’s no fear of spam. She calls it “permission marketing.”)

How would PR use it? Would it be a tool for pitching journalists?


Whenever you have a targeted audience to reach, the app will help you do it. You have to tell the target audience to download the app first, but companies can do that by including links to download the app in press releases or emails.

If, say, you represent an insurance company that specializes in eye health and wants to push content they’ve uploaded to eye doctors, you can direct all the doctors on their contact list toward the app. Once they’ve uploaded it, you can easily push the client’s events, thought leadership pieces, and other content that you would otherwise have to send via email, text, or even snail mail to those doctors.

Can it work for internal communications as well?

Yes, because both a firm and their clients can use it. It’s useful for employees to download because, if there’s an upcoming event involving the firm, someone can push info to the app and all employees will attend the event with the relevant content on hand.

Also: If I’m a non-profit and I want my donors to know how the organization is doing and how their money is being spent, the app could be an easy way for me to get that information to them in a variety of formats.

The app is essentially a customizable mobile content distribution tool; all those who download it will receive the same material at the same time from the PR pros on the other end. Here’s a screenshot of what a user would see:

At the PRSA event, Corbin says his team pitched the app as a way for firms to “offer their clients a mobile strategy as part of a broader communications program.”

What do we think? And how are we using mobile tech to transcend the more traditional methods of content distribution?