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5 Pro PR Tips For App Owners

In my many years of working with various app owners, I’ve come to understand that public relations are widely perceived to be the simplest task in the app development cycle.

Many, in fact, believe that it’s not even a primary necessity – so, they’d rather focus more on developing great apps that are capable of selling themselves. And then there are those startup founders who continue to confuse public relations with mobile app marketing – they feel that the two sets of strategies can be used interchangeably.

“If you develop a great mobile app, you don’t need to invest heavily in public relations – the app will market itself.”

“You should only roll out your PR campaign after launching the mobile app.”

“There’s really no difference between app PR campaigns and mobile app marketing.

“You don’t need to hire a PR agency – just run a couple of mobile app ads on social media.”

Does any of that sound familiar?

Ok, to be fair, these are pretty reasonable beliefs. And although it sounds simple, mobile app public relations might not be that straightforward to every startup founder.

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Now, to set the record straight, I’d say that PR campaigns are not optional – they’re completely critical if you intend to grow exponentially over the long haul.

And no-app PR is not just a matter of running paid ads on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google, etc. Such a strategy is bound to fail miserably, as 92% of consumers today tend to trust organic media over purely promotional content.

But then again, what is this organic media coverage? And how exactly should you strategize your mobile app PR campaign to take full advantage?

This is where I invite you to follow along and learn not only the answers to that but also the corresponding public relations tricks you could leverage on your mobile apps. I’ve compiled this write-up to provide mobile app owners and startup founders with accurate insights into:

  • What mobile app public relations campaigns are all about.
  • How to conduct app PR campaigns like a pro.
  • The channels and platforms you should integrate into your app PR campaigns.
  • How to measure and track your PR efforts.
  • The best instances for applying public relations in your app startup.
  • How to incrementally attract organic media coverage.
  • How to create and maintain links with influential journalists and media outlets.
  • The role of a PR agency when it comes to public relations.

Now, to start us off, let’s get the basics right. What are mobile app public relations? And why would app owners or startups even consider rolling out PR campaigns?

Table of Contents

  • Why You Need A PR Campaign For Your Mobile App
  • 5 Proven Public Relations Tips For App Owners
    • #1. Optimize Your Website For SEO
    • #2. Set Measurable Objectives
    • #3. Listen To Your Audience
    • #4. Leverage Media Outlets
    • #5. Consider A Pre-Release Before The Final App Launch
  • Key Takeaways

Why Do You Need A PR Campaign For Your Mobile App?

Mobile App PR Campaign
Mobile App PR Campaigns. Source: Pixabay

Make no mistake about it. Although there are a couple of similarities between public relations and mobile app marketing, the two activities are distinctively different. As such, you should keep in mind that PR campaigns are not necessarily interchangeable with mobile app marketing strategies.

Why is that?

Well, the fundamental objective of public relations is to use media coverage and content to create buzz among target audiences – for the sake of spreading awareness about your mobile app. Mobile app marketing, on the other hand, primarily seeks to promote the app across multiple channels to drive app discovery, user acquisition, app engagement, and user retention.

That’s why, as a matter of fact, PR agencies don’t usually double up as marketing firms. Mobile app marketers, in most instances, operate separately from their public relations counterparts.

Not always, though. As a mobile app marketing and public relations veteran, I can confirm that the two do not consistently run independently. I’ve observed that audience engagement is best achieved by seamlessly integrating app PR campaigns with marketing strategies.

For instance, your startup could begin by using public relations to warm up the market ahead of the mobile app launch and then build upon the resultant media coverage with post-launch marketing campaigns.

It’s because of such approaches that digital promotion trends have been increasingly shifting across both fronts. And they won’t be slowing down anytime soon – at least according to a recent study, which confirmed that more than 60% of marketing executives and nearly half of public relations professionals believe that PR and marketing campaigns are set to work together more closely in the future.

That, in a way, also means that marketing will never dilute public relations. Startups, in particular, will always rely on PR campaigns to provide a solid foundation for the subsequent app marketing strategies.

Well, of course, you can always hire a PR agency to do all this heavy lifting on your behalf. PreApps, for instance, is bound to get you extensive media coverage – thanks to the close links we’ve developed over the years with various reputable media outlets.

But then don’t get me wrong. Hiring a PR and marketing agency doesn’t mean you should keep off the entire process. As an app owner, you still need to understand the best practices that drive effective public relations.

This allows you to keep tabs on not only the promotional strategies but also the ever-expanding flood of data in today’s tech world, as well as the rapidly changing media landscape.

Here are 5 app owner PR tips to help you through it all. These are the 5 that proved to be the most effective after we tried and tested quite a bunch of strategies.

Whichever startup or app category you’re specializing in, you can indeed count on these five tricks to connect you with millions of targeted app users, and subsequently, drive organic exposure to your mobile app.

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5 Proven Public Relations Tips For App Owners

#1. Optimize Your Website For SEO

Leading the list is a strategy that also happens to feature prominently among the primary mobile app marketing methods.

The simple reason is, SEO is just as crucial to public relations as mobile app marketing. Of the 3.5 billion search queries that Google processes every day, more than 55.77% come from mobile devices alone.

Mobile Search Share - Desktop vs Mobile vs Tablet
Mobile Search Share. Source: StatCounter

Therefore, in other words, the Google search engine remains to be the one digital platform that hosts the largest traffic of smartphone users. Whatever your target audience is, you’re bound to find them running search queries on Google.

So, there are no two ways about it. A website is completely necessary for any app owner who intends to spread their message far wide.

And no, we’re not talking about paid search ads. Rather, you should focus on optimizing the site for organic search, as this alone accounts for 53% of website traffic.

The best-ranked sites, in particular, get the lion’s share of the search traffic – with the first position attracting an average CTR of 28.5%, the second-ranked site drawing 15.7%, 11% for the third, 8% for the fourth one, and so forth.

CTR Per Google Search Ranking
CTR Per Google Search Ranking. Source: Search Engine Journal

What’s more, a report by HubSpot reveals that 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results, and the searches beat social media by 300% in volume. So, it is well worth it to invest your time and money in search engine optimization.

How?

As you’re probably aware, SEO itself entails several types of website tweaks. Most importantly, though, you might want to combine content marketing with strategically placed keywords.

You can start by conducting research on the most frequently used organic keywords in your industry – tools like SEMrush and SpyFu will give you detailed stats on that. And while you’re at it, try to also establish the hottest trending topics that you could build content around.

Consider, for example, going by what people search when they need solutions that are offered by your app. Take into account the relevancy, search volume, and difficulty of the keywords plus topics – and then stick with the words and phrases that consumers frequently run searches on.

As you progressively publish the SEO content, you could additionally use it as a foundation for link building. This is where you identify journalists and digital platforms (in your field) that offer linking opportunities, and then take advantage of them to expand your influence and footprint.

If your content is exceptionally insightful, you’re bound to attract increased media coverage and traction – which eventually translates to a wider audience reach.

#2. Set Measurable Objectives

Whether you need to increase awareness, support sales, or change the public profile of your app, measurable goals will help gauge the appropriate effort to put into each task.

As a startup, you can begin this entire procedure with a big-picture objective.

What do you intend to achieve with your public relations campaign? Are you seeking brand awareness? Perhaps looking to expand your audience reach? Or maybe you’d want people to discover your mobile app?

Once you’ve established the overall goals, you can go ahead and break it all down further.

For example – if brand awareness is the primary objective, you could narrow it down to the particulars you’d want to spread about the brand.

Then audience reach, on the other hand, could be defined in terms of the specific market segments you’d like to focus on, as well the corresponding media outlets. The same applies to mobile app discovery, which tends to lean towards traffic sources and the subsequent numbers.

Other common app public relations considerations include:

  • How many followers would you like to have on Twitter and Facebook?
  • Which app review websites will you reach out to?
  • How many press releases would you like to publish? This ensures that you aren’t being unproductive by, for example, focusing too much on the social media posts when you should be putting out more press releases.

Once you have a list of quantifiable goals and tasks, you can proceed to identify your key audience.

Are you directing your campaigns at a specific gender, location, or age group?

At that point, you get to identify the simplest access point to your audience. For instance, if you’re trying to advertise a game app to app enthusiasts, you could try placing messages and media on popular internet tech forums, online gaming sites, or perhaps in a prominent Facebook group for new apps.

In the end, all these considerations should help you come up with a PR campaign roadmap for your mobile app. For each set of actions, you’ll have clear measurable objectives – complete with trackable parameters that could also act as campaign KPIs.

Measure KPIs of Mobile App Campaigns
Measure KPIs. Source: Pixabay

Other than that, you could use the schedule to determine not only the respective shares of fund allocations from your PR campaign budget but also the tools to leverage for each task.

When it comes to Twitter PR campaigns, for instance, online social media services like Tweetdeck and HootSuite can post and schedule multiple tweets at a time, while services like SumAll and Sprout Social can provide Twitter analytics to track your mobile app’s popularity.

Whether it be a monitoring tool, CRM or reporting product, check if there’s an app that goes with it – so you can track the impact of your campaigns, your followers, and your progress from week to week.

This saves time and frees up your schedule.

You can also use Excel spreadsheets to sort, plot, analyze, and filter the results of your campaign to give you a better idea of where you need to direct your PR efforts.

A good PR professional doesn’t just launch a campaign and then leave it to flounder. Evaluation and follow-ups are vital.

#3. Listen To Your Audience

A public relations strategy is not a sales pitch. You should, instead, set up two-way interactions that create a meaningful relationship with your audiences.

Don’t rush into it, though. Before you even come up with a system for sharing your app PR messages and media, you ought to establish who’ll be receiving them. In other words, it’s prudent to start with a clear definition of your target audience.

This is where you describe the specific user persona that you want to connect with. If you’re trying to promote an app on social media, for instance, you might want to have a clear breakdown of not only the age bracket of the persona, but also their typical interests, group preferences, a schedule of their social media activities, plus the subsequent interaction patterns.

Once you have a well-defined persona, you can go ahead and choose the most appropriate platform for delivering the campaign material.

If your public relations are centered on social media, for example, you should dive into the nitty-gritty and then point out the platforms where your audience persona prefers to hang out – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, you name it.

You could also try getting inside their heads by following who they follow on social media or perhaps subscribing to the same things that they do. Both instances will give you a better idea of what your audience persona could ultimately gain from downloading your app.

Mobile App Audience Characteristics
Audience Characteristics. Source: Pixabay

If, on the other hand, you’re seeking media coverage, this would be the ideal point to stipulate the most impactful media outlets. In essence, such publications would be relevant not only to your mobile app’s area of focus but also to the accompanying audience persona.

With this information, you’ll be able to draft PR campaign messages that resonate well with your target audience’s interests, needs, and activities. What’s more, you’ll find it easier to express the value of the entire app in terms of the impact it’ll have on the audience persona.

Not enough research and listening is one of the biggest mistakes a PR professional can make. Once you ask the right questions and watch the right people, you will be able to create a tailor-made plan that will suit both you and the consumers’ needs.

The technical term for that is personalization. And, as it turns out, 99% of marketers strongly believe that personalization helps improve customer relationships. These sentiments are not that different from the consumers’ side, as 90% of them report that they find personalized content to be very appealing.

#4. Leverage Media Outlets

Sure, the likes of Twitter and Facebook are great platforms for distributing your app PR content. Google is another reliable digital platform if you get your SEO right, and the same applies to content-rich websites.

The fun doesn’t stop there, though. As you rush to capitalize on social media and content marketing opportunities on your site, don’t make the mistake of writing off traditional media.

While traditional media outlets might not have the reach of social media platforms and search engines, they tend to have more influence on public opinion.

Yes, that’s right – both print and digital media publications have maintained a long-standing reputation for providing accurate, unbiased information.

So trusted are the media outlets, in fact, that a positive report about your mobile app will be widely received as an industry seal of approval.

If you’re having a hard time convincing prospects through your site and social media pages, media coverage will dramatically turn the tide in your favor. Being recognized by journalists is sufficient proof that you mean business.

Press Release For Mobile App
Press Release. Source: Unsplash

Ok, but how do you get your PR message published by renowned media outlets?

Well, as a startup, one of the quickest tricks to securing media coverage is distributing a press release. This is an official statement that brands send out to journalists and media houses, as means of providing more information about a newsworthy aspect or occurrence.

You could, for instance, prepare a press release for your mobile app launch. Such a statement would, of course, highlight the app’s core capabilities, unique features, value, and pricing, as well as provide brief details about the startup company behind it.

According to Cision’s 2018 Global State of the Media Report, 63% of reporters globally acknowledge that press releases are the most preferred medium of news conveyance, while 44% of journalists consider the press releases to be their most trustworthy source of brand-related info.

You just need to get your story through to the relevant editors and journalists in your space, and they’ll publish the app’s details in their public articles. The larger the publishing media house, the wider the audience your media coverage will ultimately reach.

There’s just one problem – you’re not the only one trying to get published. As it turns out, renowned editors and journalists receive hundreds of press release pitches in their emails every day, all coming from businesses that are eager to tell their stories. In desperation, some companies even try to reach out directly via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

Well, as you’d expect, most of these bids are never successful. The most influential media outlets only have an eye for exceptionally catchy pitches with very captivating stories. They select only the best of the best for their audiences.

Now, don’t let that discourage you. Despite the stiff competition here, you can easily make the cut if you apply some finesse.

You could start by identifying journalists who are particularly passionate about your specific niche. Then come up with brief but creative pitches that not only introduce the app but also explain its most outstanding features, followed by a quick summary of your startup company.

Such pitches should be sent via email at the most appropriate times, and with an attention-grabbing subject line. 81% of journalists prefer to receive their pitches via email, 85% of reporters tend to open emails with captivating subject lines, while 69% of journalists have a habit of reading their pitch emails in the morning.

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#5. Consider A Pre-Release Before The Final App Launch

There’s no doubt that you’re confident about your mobile app’s potential. Friends that have sampled it may have even assured you that it’ll be hit on the App Store once it launches. In the meantime, you probably feel that the incomplete project should remain a closely guarded secret until its launch when you’ll be ready to hit the ground running with all the big guns in mobile app marketing.

Well, from what I’ve observed from a host of mobile app developers, I’d say that’s the typical launch strategy for most app owners. They believe that their mobile apps will only be ready for the market on their launch date – and until then, they’d rather keep their app promotion plans on the down-low.

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, the truth is, post-launch is way too late to kickstart your mobile app’s public relations and marketing. Even if you actually manage to salvage the situation, you’ll still be operating way below the true potential of your app.

Believe it or not, the best time to kickstart your promotional campaigns is way ahead of the app launch. This is when you should roll out your public relations campaigns with all guns blazing. Then to top it off, consider releasing an early version of the mobile app.

The pre-release version shouldn’t exactly tick all the quality boxes. It should just be stable enough to offer a sneak peek of what’s about to come with the final version.

Mobile App Pre-Launch of Stable Version
Stable Pre-release version. Source: Unsplash

This PR strategy is great at generating pre-launch buzz among prospects. While you work on the final version of the app, your target audience could be excitedly using the pre-release version to familiarize themselves with the upcoming features.

Then if you intend to stretch the reach even further, consider rewarding this group of early-bird users with price discounts.

All in all, you can think of your pre-release version as more or less a movie trailer that gets viewers fired up beforehand while, in the meantime, you perform finishing touches on the main film. Besides, it’ll even help you gather pre-launch user feedback, which you could then use to improve the final app.

While you’re at it, work on getting the pre-release version covered in the top and mid-tier publications. Leverage it to establish yourself as a leader in the industry, as well as highlight all the positive upcoming features. And in case of any criticism or controversy from other industry stakeholders, try countering the issues with facts – while refuting arguments in an honest, earnest, and kind way.

This doesn’t mean you should neglect the smaller publications since they can also be very helpful as your app grows in popularity. Just ensure that you create winning content upon the release of each app version.

Key Takeaways

To sum it all up:

  • 92% of consumers today tend to trust organic media over purely promotional content.
  • Although there are a couple of similarities between public relations and mobile app marketing, the two activities are distinctively different.
  • Public relations leverages media coverage and content to create buzz among target audiences – for the sake of spreading awareness about your mobile app. Mobile app marketing, on the other hand, primarily seeks to promote the app across multiple channels to drive app discovery, user acquisition, app engagement, and user retention.
  • Audience engagement is best achieved by seamlessly integrating app PR campaigns with marketing strategies.
  • More than 60% of marketing executives and nearly half of public relations professionals believe that PR and marketing campaigns are set to work together more closely in the future.
  • Of the 3.5 billion search queries that Google processes every day, more than 55.77% come from mobile devices alone.
  • Organic search accounts for 53% of website traffic.
  • The best-ranked sites, in particular, get the lion’s share of the search traffic – with the first position attracting an average CTR of 28.5%, the second-ranked site drawing 15.7%, 11% for the third, 8% for the fourth one, and so forth.
  • 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
  • Search engine searches beat social media by 300% in volume.
  • Considerations on goals and objectives should help you come up with a PR campaign roadmap for your mobile app. For each set of actions, you’ll have clear measurable objectives – complete with trackable parameters that could also act as campaign KPIs.
  • A public relations strategy is not a sales pitch. You should, instead, set up two-way interactions that create a meaningful relationship with your audiences.
  • Describe the specific user persona that you want to connect with. Then once you have a well-defined persona, you can go ahead and choose the most appropriate platform for delivering the campaign material.
  • 99% of marketers strongly believe that personalization helps improve customer relationships.
  • 90% of consumers report that they find personalized content to be very appealing.
  • While traditional media outlets might not have the reach of social media platforms and search engines, they tend to have more influence on public opinion.
  • 63% of reporters globally acknowledge that press releases are the most preferred medium of news conveyance, while 44% of journalists consider the press releases to be their most trustworthy source of brand-related info.
  • 81% of journalists prefer to receive their pitches via email, 85% of reporters tend to open emails with captivating subject lines, while 69% of journalists have a habit of reading their pitch emails in the morning.
  • The pre-release version shouldn’t exactly tick all the quality boxes. It should just be stable enough to offer a sneak peek of what’s about to come with the final version.

Conclusion

Almost everyone can do public relations, but doing it effectively is where many fail. Your app is competing with a million other developers who are putting in the same PR effort to make their apps stand out.

The solution – make a connection with the audience. The best app PR campaign strategy communicates the real value of the product by highlighting – through relatable use cases – how it uniquely caters to users’ needs and problems.

We can go ahead and put it all in action with your mobile app today. Just let us know your mobile app growth plans, and we’ll promptly develop an appropriate PR campaign for your target audiences – based on a couple of specialized market tricks that we’ve built after working with more than 3,300 apps.

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Marilyn Shi
Posted By

Marilyn Shi

From deep in the Hundred Acre Wood, Marilyn Shi is a honey bear and a member of the Class of 2016 at Boston College. She loves writing, deep space, and Googling trivia about controversial celebrities. Disco-lover, wheat bread extraordinaire. #HealthGod. For more information or just to chat, get in touch at marilyn@preapps.com.

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