October 2013

Just the facts, anywhere, anytime, all the time…

Mobile devices will drive decisions anywhere, anytime, and all the time.

Gartner Group recently stated that in 2013, total shipments of all IT devices will rise 5.9% to 2.32 billion units. But the makeup of those shipments has changed dramatically in recent years. In 2013, Gartner estimates 1.8 billion smartphones will ship – 6 times the number of PCs! Tablet shipments are far behind at only 184 million units, but that is up 53% over 2012.

"Consumers want anytime-anywhere computing that allows them to consume and create content with ease, but also share and access that content from a different portfolio of products,” according to Carolina Milanesi, vice president at Gartner. "Mobility is paramount in both mature and emerging markets.”

There are approximately 900,000 apps for both Android and for iOS (Apple iPhone and iPad Operating System) for these portable, less expensive, but powerful mobile devices - so they can do a bunch of stuff, but what does that mean for businesses, and you, the economic developer?

One example of how this trend impacts business, involves the use of location services on the devices. GIS enabled devices show businesses, events and attractions in the immediate vicinity. So, tourists (and residents) can find attractions' open and closing times, find restaurant ratings for eateries close by, review menus, get directions, report potholes along the way, pay using their smartphone, and post a review of their experience afterwards.

From the economic development perspective, we know that your community gets checked out online by site selection professionals - more and more, that will be on a mobile device. This raises several considerations. Do you have a mobile version of your website? Have you read your 400 word webpages on a mobile device? Are the facts quick and easy to find? Can your contact information be found, with clickable phone and email access?

Take a few minutes, put yourself in the mind frame of a site selector, and check your economic development web presence on your mobile device.

By Richard Woolridge and Eric McSweeney

Richard Woolridge

Currently an Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Previously, twenty years in industry as an entrepreneur, consultant, process developer, project leader, information architect, teacher, developer, and innovator.

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Media Relations - The Missing Economic Development Tool

Over the past fifteen years, I've provided media relations services to a range of organizations in the private and public sectors. The list includes 50 start up technology companies, several manufacturing firms, national associations even large publicly traded companies. Prior to that I had a long and interesting career in municipal economic development.

Of course, client organizations retain my services for one thing - increasing their profile in the media in Canada and, in some cases, in international media outlets.

The ability to recognize a good story is absolutely essential to effective media relations but in my experience the majority of organizations don't do it very well.

A few years ago, I attended a luncheon hosted by a development agency in an Ontario municipality. The speaker was the CEO of a successful company that manufactured a product in demand by various customers particularly in the US.

He gave an excellent presentation, noting at one point that a television series in the US had included the product in one of their episodes. Sales were brisk and there were several new products on the planning board. I approached the speaker at the end of the event, introduced myself. I asked about their media relations effort. As it turned out this company did no media relations whatsoever.

Furthermore, I discovered that the municipality hadn't done anything in conjunction with the company either. Talk about a missed media opportunity!

Municipal economic development professionals are busy from a marketing perspective with paid advertising, direct mail; social media content creation and collateral. But I wonder how many think about media relations. And I am not talking about sending a news release to the local newspaper. I'm talking about assessing all economic activity in the municipality, identifying interesting stories within key sectors and getting those stories to the media up to and including national and international media outlets.

You would be amazed at how much media coverage can be generated from a simple story that is communicated to the right reporter at the right time in the right manner. I mean national and international coverage too. When that kind of coverage occurs everyone benefits: the company, the municipality, the economic development office, the Chamber of Commerce - everyone in that community gets a boost from seeing (one of theirs" in the media.

I believe that within the vast majority of Canadian municipalities there are all kinds of great stories. But they will never see the light of day unless someone recognizes that fact. Done well, media relations can have a profound and lasting effect on municipal economic development.

Shaun Markey is President of Shaun Markey Communications Inc., a boutique PR and media firm, which has provided media communication services to a range of Canadian clients in the private and public sectors. He is located in Ottawa, Canada.


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