WSPRAgram, April 2012

WSPRAgram, April 2012
The Smartphone train has left the station.
Are you on board?      
Type in “iPhone sales history” in a Google search.

Notice any trends in the results?

“iPhone sales account for nearly half of Apple’s revenue…” “Apple’s $46 billion sales set new tech record.” “iPhone accounted for 80 percent of AT&T Smartphone Sales.” “Sprint announces best sales day in history, thanks to iPhone…” “Apple breaks iPhone sales record again.”

Smartphone technology is out there folks, and the wildly popular Apple iPhone isn’t the only one on the marketplace. That other little company mentioned in the lead sentence of this story – Google – has its own smartphone technology and a slew of companies making phones that use its Android operating system.

When smartphones first hit the markeplace, their prices kept them out of the hands of most citizens. But as prices lowered and service plans from cellular providers became more affordable, the sales numbers skyrocketed.

PC Magazine had an article in December 2011 that said 44 percent of Americans now own smartphones, up from 18 percent in late 2009.

A Nielsen survey, which the article references, says 71 percent of the smartphones in use today are either iPhones or Android-based phones.

A phone is no longer just a phone. It’s information in your pocket, capable of doing everything from managing your grocery list and instantly finding coupons to keeping your calendar up to date, to taking photos and videos, editing them and sending them on their way.

They’re devices that are growing in popularity and growing in capabilities. At the Delavan-Darien School District, we didn’t want to miss the smartphone popularity train that has been picking up steam since it left the station a few short years ago. We wanted to make sure we’re using available technologies our parents and community have to stay connected with them. So…

Over winter, we created a basic smartphone application using online vendor Buzztouch is one of many available online “build” assistants. It helps you write your application in a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) environment. It was free to use and compiles or writes the program code needed for both iPhone and Android phones, as well as iPad and iPod touch devices, and other devices that use Android technology, including the Kindle Fire.

Thus far, we’ve published the free application on Apple’s App Store (at a cost of $100) and are in the process of making the app available on Google’s Marketplace (a $25 fee), so it will be available for Android-based devices.

Within six weeks after a soft launch, we’ve had more than application 330 downloads from Apple’s App Store.

The application is basically a menu of options linking mostly to our existing district websites, making the browsing experience from a mobile device simplified and much more user-friendly.

From the app, users can:

  • call district staff via phone (if on a smartphone), or contact us via email, through our facebook or twitter pages, or find and route to our schools and district office using Google maps
  • find staff contact info in our staff directory
  • find out what’s on each school’s events calendar
  • check out the latest school district news on our blog
  • read each school’s daily announcements on an announcements blog
  • read each school’s monthly parent newsletters
  • connect with and follow our social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, SmugMug photo galleries, etc)
  • find out what’s for lunch on our lunch menu pages
  • take a fun quiz or two (ACT test prep questions, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? quiz, current district news quiz)
  • visit school resource web pages, such as our student-parent handbook, high school course selection guide, scholarship information, school supply lists, school hours, PowerSchool parent access, student email account access and more
  • log into staff email, PowerSchool, Skyward, Oasys and AESOP accounts (day-off requests and sub scheduling system), or see our district “tech portal” or shared documents folder.
  • send us school-related photos taken with or stored on their phone or device
  • search the application or our district websites for keywords and further information.

The interface manages all of the initial code needed for the application and changes can be made easily through the portal on the website. If ever a change is needed, it is made on the site and then automatically reflected on the user’s device after “refreshing” the application. There’s no need to re-upload the program code to either the App Store or Marketplace, making minor application updates and maintenance a breeze.

There are other online mobile application builders available besides Buzztouch. Some, like Buzztouch, are online-only where you build your application through the interface and with the tools and options provided. Other companies will build the app for you from the ground up to meet your specifications. Like any service, the more you pay, the more features and functionality you can get. fit our needs (get information to our community easily and free) and our budget (next to nothing), and it was easy enough to use and interface with existing tools we already had, such as our website, news blog site and social media accounts. We didn’t have to reinvent the wheel and we were able to bring our news, information, photos and more into the hands, pockets and purses of our district community with just a few clicks.

For questions, contact:

Mike Heine
Coordinator of School/Community Relations
Delavan-Darien School District
262 728-2642 ext. 4813

webinarWebinar Invitation

As a WSPRA member, we have heard you say you’d like more information about social media, so we’re forwarding an invitation to a free webinar in case you are able to attend…

Social Media Nuts n’ Bolts:
How to Set-up Your Business on Popular Sites

This complimentary webinar takes place on Wednesday, May 2nd,11:00 am Central Time.

For people who are relatively new to the world of social networks, setting up a business online can be a challenge.  And it’s a struggle for people who may use these platforms for their personal networks and now seek to find an online voice for their businesses.

Join Frontier Communications as we look at the how-to for a number of popular social network platforms.

Attend the live, one-hour Webinar to learn about:

  • How to create Facebook ads and sponsored stories
  • How to create a Twitter account, schedule distribution and track links
  • How to set-up and brand a YouTube channel
  • How to use Pinterest for your business

Who should attend?

  • Business owners
  • Marketers
  • PR Managers
  • Customer Service Managers
  • Sales Leaders
  • Business Development Leaders

Register today!

membership2012-13 Membership Drive

It’s that time of year again!  Your current membership will be ending on June 30th.

We hope that you make the decision to renew your membership and once again become part of our active network of individuals who recognize the importance of school public relations and receive support from WSPRA.

Renewal notices will start going out next month.

Join Committee

JoinCommitteeJoin a Committee!

WSPRA has some great projects in the works and is looking for new members to help plan and execute these initiatives. If you are interested in serving on a committee (whether it be planning a conference or workshop, writing articles for the WSPRAgram or helping with membership, etc.), please contactHeather Westgor.  Committees offer valuable networking opportunities that can help strengthen and build your career. Joining a committee doesn’t require a set commitment of time. You can participate in a variety of ways, with as little or as much time as you have available. We hope you’ll consider becoming more involved with WSPRA.

NSPRANatSemNSPRA National Seminar 

NSPRA Chicago 2012Mark your calendars to attend the NSPRA National Seminar in Chicago, July 8-11, 2012.  Click here for more information.

An NSPRA National Seminar Registration Scholarship will be available from WSPRA.  Please watch for details in the coming weeks regarding the application process in the coming weeks.

SocialMediaGuideSocial Media Guide 

Copies of the Social Media Guide are still available.  Click here to order your copy today!

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About the author

The Wisconsin School Public Relations Association (WSPRA) is a professional association representing schools, school districts, educational associations, consulting agencies and organizations. WSPRA is a state affiliate of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA). 4797 HAYES ROAD | SUITE 103 | MADISON, WI 53704 | PHONE: 608-241-0300 | WSPRA@AWSA.ORG