Texting offers versatile option to reach broad audience

Cell phones and mobile devices like the BlackBerry reached a certain level of ubiquity some time ago. And one of their growing applications is text messaging - whether by those on their way to work or teens who communicate with their friends during class.

Cell phones and mobile devices like the BlackBerry reached a certain level of ubiquity some time ago. And one of their growing applications is text messaging - whether by those on their way to work or teens who communicate with their friends during class.

Not surprisingly, it has become a phenomenon that PR pros should pay attention to and consider utilizing to reach broad audiences.

"Since mobile phones have become a staple in today's culture and text messaging is standard on every phone carrier, using text messaging to reach consumers can be a natural part of any PR program," says Samara Finn, part of the emerging media department at Marina Maher Communications.

Text messaging has become the new word of mouth for PR campaigns and can be applied to anything where a consumer is being asked to respond or gather more information. "Text messaging can take the place of direct response opportunities," says B. Bonin Bough, EVP of interactive and emerging media at Weber Shandwick. He suggests using a text message number instead of a URL, making it more convenient for consumers to just respond instead of remembering a Web address.

"Text messaging is not a great platform for a lot of information," says Andy Castonguay, director of consumer research at Yankee Group, "but [its] value comes into play when people do not have regular access to their PC or laptop."

Texting has a lot of versatility, not only for its ability to reach people away from their computers, but also for its reach to a broad range of demographics.

"Research suggests Americans from ages 18 to 27 make up the largest percentage of texters, but text messaging is rapidly expanding across all ages and isn't just for kids anymore," says Finn.

"Clients are looking for what they can do with mobile and are looking for smart integration," adds Bough. "Clients are constantly being confronted by multiple screens and it's how you use those screens [that's important.]"

Key points:

Texting can be used at events to update schedules and invite people to sign up for a service

Healthcare efforts can text patients to tell them where a doctor is located or send product details

Text messages are great for reaching moms who've had to learn the technology to keep up with their kids

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