Hearst's niche iPhone apps keep audience in the know

Media giant Hearst recently rolled out the first 70 of what it says could eventually be thousands of niche-news iPhone apps under the LMK (Let Me Know) brand.

In the news
Media giant Hearst recently rolled out the first 70 of what it says could eventually be thousands of niche-news iPhone apps under the LMK (Let Me Know) brand.

Why does it matter?
LMK is an ambitious project by a traditional news company to generate new revenues by essentially serving as a content aggregator similar to the algorithm/keyword-driven Google News, but this time with a human component.

"We have editors and curators that identify authoritative sources," says Michael Gutkowski, LMK president. "It delivers an up-to-the-moment news river of information - all you're getting is the headline of the story, the source attribution, a very short description that's well within the fair use guidelines, and a link that takes you to the browser that takes you to that authoritative source."

LMK will have $.99 to $1.99 apps for everything from coffee to businesses categories. As a content aggregator, LMK might not need traditional media relations, but Gutkowski sees a role for PR. "As new authoritative reporters, blogs, and news sources become available," he says, "making us aware of those will be important."

Jason Kirshner, principal with Orange County, CA-based RMS Public Relations, notes that despite screen-size limitations, the iPhone - and to a lesser extent other mobile de- vices - are emerging as viable news platforms. "[But] it does force us to rethink how we deliver messages," he adds. "So while it's important to include the who, what, when, where, and why, you should try to make it more succinct if possible."

Kirshner also highlights iPhone users as a great target audience. "That's especially true," he adds, "if you have clients in a tech industry because these are very tech-savvy consumers."

Three facts:

The Apple iPhone store currently has more than 100,000 apps, some for free, some with a one-time payment, and some with a monthly subscription fee

Hearst is among dozens of news outlets with iPhone apps, including The New York Times, AP, and Time

The Wall Street Journal reports LMK will initially have only five full-time employees to track the most authoritative sources on an array of niche subjects

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