Flipboard: The ‘next big thing’ for public relations

This online flippable magazine format combines visuals, mobility and custom content curation—a trifecta for attracting consumers and followers to your brand.

Are you using Flipboard yet? You should be.

The digital social magazine app aggregates online content and displays it in a lush, four-color magazine format. You “flip” the pages as you scroll through magazines focusing on topics that interest you.

Entertaining. Striking. Mobile.

Flipboard was introduced to the marketplace in 2010 and now has more than 100 million readers who have downloaded the app. It’s adding 250,000 readers a day.

“Flipboard has been working hard over the last few years to build an app that makes reading stories on mobile and tablet devices as engaging as flipping through a magazine,” says Ryan Lawler of techcrunch.com. “Those readers are flipping about 8 billion pages per month, and that number continues to grow.”

Flipboard combines the power of the Internet with the look and feel of high-end print publications—providing a bridge from traditional print to the digital world, which is especially helpful for old-school clients who haven’t embraced the Web.

It’s also easy to use.

“Flipboard is doing for magazines what Twitter is doing for major newspapers: resurrecting a print medium by allowing readers to curate online and digital articles from a variety of publications that matter to them most,” says Mike Lizun of the PR agency Gregory FCA. “The result is a customized magazine that users can share and promote across their own social networks.”

For individual use, Flipboard can replace your RSS reader and provide a seamless reading and viewing experience. Once you’ve set up your Flipboard account, connected your social networks and chosen your topics, you can easily browse the newest stories, images and video by flipping from one to the next on your smartphone, tablet or desktop.

The glossy magazine look and feel and the flipping action as you turn the page make it seem familiar and even entertaining. “Flipping” or sharing articles, images, audio and video with your social networks is done with a simple keystroke while enabling you to comment before sharing.

In March 2013, Flipboard updated its functionality to let users create and subscribe to virtual magazines based on their own interests—which was a game-changer for many. With this ability to curate and publish content from across the Web, users began discovering the power of the Flipboard app.

“Magazines have been incredibly popular on Flipboard: The company says there have been more than 10 million of them created and curated by readers since launch,” Lawler says. “They can range from having just a few followers to hundreds and thousands of followers, and the top magazines have generated tens of millions of page flips from readers.”

Digital strategist Amy Vernon offers this: “Flipboard has made the ability to use the app as frictionless as you could imagine. While visuals are vital on Flipboard, the setup allows you to include all sorts of content that isn’t visual, as it will be interspersed with lovely photos and videos. You can set the cover to whatever you want, so you don’t have to worry that a photo-less article will grab the cover from you.”

Vernon also points out the effect of Flipboard’s recent sharing of magazine analytics with publishers. “I’m able to see the impact it has each time I flip a new article into a magazine as viewership shoots up with new content added.”

Flipboard for your expertise

For PR professionals, the ability to quickly create online magazines has tremendous potential. Now, it’s easy to create a magazine that showcases your expertise or serves as a portfolio of your work.

“One of the most important rules of public relations is to think like an editor, and with Flipboard, you also become a publisher,” says Mike Lizun. “Not only can you use it to stay up to speed on what’s interesting to readers in your particular area of interest or expertise, you can also pair a blog post from your company in with an article from a major publication in your space.”

Flipboard as a portfolio

Where Flipboard gets really useful for public relations professionals is in its use as an agency portfolio of online client mentions, including posts from bloggers, featured articles, press announcements, social networks updates and comments, video clips and images of client products and services.

“We use Flipboard for many different things,” says Janette Speyer, vice president of Web Success Team and Hot Ice Media. “We’ve found it to be incredibly valuable as a tool to showcase online brand mentions for our clients, especially those who are not completely Web-savvy.

“We create a magazine for their brand and then flip all online mentions into it and show it to them on a tablet,” she says. “The uncanny resemblance to the familiar four-color print magazine is reassuring, and then seeing the actual proof of what’s going on online is impressive to them. When they have this magazine they can flip through, with all of the different content about their brand, they feel a sense of relief.”

Flipboard for public education campaigns

Speyer has used Flipboard for her clients in other ways. She recounts the challenges faced when her client, Marukan Vinegar, a sponsor of #FoodieChat, was trying to introduce the product in rural areas to an audience that didn’t consider rice vinegar a staple and didn’t have any idea what to do with it.

Speyer quickly created a Flipboard magazine called “The Many Uses of Rice Vinegar” to showcase how traditional Japanese seasoning can be used in cooking a wide range of recipes. She shared the magazine widely in her clients’ social networks and in the #FoodieChat Twitter conversation.

To date, the magazine contains 101 articles and has generated 3,274 page flips, 1,006 followers and 191 viewers.

Flipboard for introducing products

For the PopStar Club, Speyer created a vibrant Flipboard magazine as part of a product launch.

“The Beatrix Girls is an innovative new line of collectible pop-star dolls driven by original music with wholesome values geared to empower your girls ages 4-9,” she explains. Her objective was to educate consumers about the availability of The Beatrix Dolls, who compete against established doll brands like Barbie and Bratz.

Speyer developed a Beatrix Girls Flipboard magazine—with links to video and downloadable music—that became part of a strategy to engage consumers to follow the escapades of the dolls, who have personalities and live and interact in the real world.

To date, the magazine contains 214 articles and has garnered 1,815 page flips, 1,005 followers and 400 viewers. The campaign is building momentum as the content is shared in the Flipboard magazine and throughout the social Web.

Amy Vernon uses Flipboard to help support her favorite nonprofit projects. One, “The Tutu Project,” chronicles a friend’s effort to raise awareness and funds for women and their families needing financial support during their respective breast cancer journeys.

“The Tutu Project” magazine tells the story of Bob Carey’s work to support his wife after her breast cancer diagnosis by having himself photographed wearing only a pink tutu. The resulting photographs have been compiled into a book as part of a fundraising effort to support breast cancer patients and their families.

“The Tutu Project” magazine has 315 articles and has generated 11,288 flips, 768 page views and 550 followers.

“The visuals are so powerful, and they show beautifully in the Flipboard magazine,” she says. “Each article links back to its original source, so readers can view the content there and purchase products or read further.”

Of course, Flipboard has been embraced by both brand managers and journalists. It is being used to provide virtual versions of print publications, such as National Geographic’s Flipboard magazine, which has 879 articles, 15 magazines and 22,774 followers.

Then there’s the food brand Dole, which has the most followed magazine to date, containing 115 articles, and boasts 687,626 viewers and 328,123 page flips.

Flipboard is being embraced by managers of brands large and small as an easy way to create an online catalog, showing images and product descriptions—complete with prices—and linking to the original website for online purchasing. The catalogs can be shared on social media and embedded on the brand’s website.

“If someone were to ask me what my pick for the next big thing would be, I’d have to say Flipboard,” Vernon says. “This is becoming the killer app for a social media world in desperate need of skilled curation.”

I agree. Flipboard is also the next big thing for public relations, and the creative uses of the app continue to grow. If you’re not using Flipboard, it’s time to start.

For help in getting started, visit the Flipboard tutorials. For publishing information, visit the Flipboard publishers FAQ page.

Allen Mireles is a strategist with an affinity for technology. Find her on Twitter @allenmireles. A version of this article first appeared on Cision’s blog


PR Daily News Feed

Sign up to receive the latest articles from PR Daily directly in your inbox.