Reaching readers with mobile apps

  • Jul 26, 2012

Andrea Merovich, Communications Manager

When it comes to reaching new readers, news organizations are obviously branching out beyond the traditional print product. These days, websites and social media play a crucial a role in audience engagement. A growing number of people now turn to their mobile or handheld devices for everything from the news to traffic reports. Media companies can tap into this potential audience by connecting via the device that most often attracts their attention – their smartphone.

Mobile apps provide news organizations with another platform to display their work. But news apps are just one way news organizations are using this technology.  News companies that have developed targeted, popular apps have tailored them to certain groups within their communities.

The Baltimore Sun
For example, take a look at The Baltimore Sun. The city of Baltimore is defined by the Orioles and the Ravens. Locals go wild for these two sports teams. Knowing its audience, The Sun developed apps geared specifically to these fans. Baltimore Baseball gives users breaking news and game analysis on their beloved Orioles. It even lets them track the Twitter accounts of the players and the team. Baltimore Football is an app that functions much like its baseball-themed counterpart. Users can get all the Ravens information their purple and black hearts’ desire.

The Washington Post
For many living in Washington D.C., the Metro app is a daily part of life, especially if you want to get around the city. Recognizing this part of D.C. life, The Washington Post introduced DC Rider. The free app tells users when to expect the next train and also gives necessary Metro updates. DC Rider will also help you find the station nearest your location.

The Denver Post
Colorado is home to many winter sports enthusiasts. The Denver Post had these snow bunnies in mind when they created the Denver Post Snow Report for the iPhone. The app details real-time conditions for Colorado’s ski resorts. As an added perk, users can track tweets from ski resorts to learn about special deals and events.

The Express-Times (Easton)
The Express-Times reaches audiences with its popular LehighValleyLive.com app, which gives smartphone and iPad users the latest area news. The app provides users with news, weather, sports and entertainment information from The Express-Times. It is particularly user-friendly in that the app’s front page is customizable so users see the news in which they are most interested first.

Lehigh Valley residents can get their fill of local high school sports news with the Lehigh Valley High School Sports app, complete with information from The Express-Times and LehighValleyLive.com. With this app, iPhone and Android users can select and follow their favorite local high school sports teams. After which, they receive notifications specifically tailored to their selections. The app, which is free, includes score boards, news and game summaries.

“The apps have provided our audience with more continuous access to our content,” says Joe Territo, executive director of content for Advance Digital. LehighValleyLive.com/The Express-Times’ apps have been downloaded more than 17,000 times and currently generate more than 2.2 million page views.

York Daily Record/Sunday News
The York Daily Record/Sunday News gives readers many avenues in which to view and read the newspaper. First there’s the YDR News App. Compatible with the iPhone, Android, Blackberry and iPad, the app features York County’s top news stories and photos. For readers preferring a more traditional look, there is the YDR E-edition App for the iPad, which shows all of the stories, ads and photos exactly as they appear on the pages of the newspaper. Similar apps exist for each of York’s sister newspapers – The Evening Sun (Hanover), Public Opinion (Chambersburg), Lebanon Daily News and The York Dispatch.

The news organization also has the local high school sports market covered – first with GameTimePA.com, a popular website dedicated to area high school sports news and information, and additionally through the GameTimePA.com app. Users have three regional apps from which to choose (York/Adams, Franklin/Fulton and Lebanon) so they are only getting the information that is most relevant to them. The app features the most clicked-upon parts of the website like scores, schedules, photos and directions.

To date, York’s applications have been downloaded approximately 58,000 times.

“It is our goal to deliver the best news and content about and for York County across every medium that our readers use. The selling point, then, is the convenience to our readers to enjoy unmatched local content on the device they prefer,” says Jared Bean, VP of digital and business development at Media OnePA. “While not a direct interaction like social media, it allows us to reach readers on the go as they are attached to their smartphones.”

Launching a successful mobile app comes down to knowing the needs and wants of your community. The people of Baltimore care about the Orioles and the Ravens; the people of Washington D.C. need to know the Metro schedule. Communities across Pennsylvania and beyond are committed to high school sports. There is untapped potential in the app market, and we’d like to hear about what your news organization is doing. To share your app story, contact Andrea Merovich at andream@pa-news.org.

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