Saturday, March 17, 2018

Customizing Push Alerts One Important Factor in Maintaining Engagement for Mobile Users, According to Digital Media Experts

by Golshan Jalali

Story highlights:
  • Two digital media experts participated in a panel titled "Alerts: Don't Push Your Audience Away" at a conference hosted by Online News Association to share best practices for engaging mobile users on apps. 
  • Media organizations are utilizing app alert push notifications to extend their brand and draw in readers. 
  • Customization and personalization are key factors to maintain engagement with users. 

Online News Association holds a conference to discuss what works and what doesn't work for app alerts

Story highlights:

  • More people are receiving their information via apps instead of web browsers by enabling push notifications for apps they download
  • News organizations are moving towards preferences for their consumers and have made it easy to modify alerts to suit their interests
  • Consumers have shown a displeasure when it comes to alerts that tease in order to get them to click the link

Online News Association conference gives insight into better app alert practice

Story Highlights:

  • News consumers often see mobile app push alerts as engaging content or brief headline due to more mobile usage. 
  • Media organizations are working to keep interest with audience by customizing app alerts to personal preference. 
  • Better practices in using push notifications will allows for consumers to be more engaged with app use.

Social Media Experts Speak at Phillip Merill's Online News Association Conference

L-R: Etan Horowitz and Alyssa Meritt
The Phillip Merill College of Journalism hosted two experts in multimedia for the online News Association Conference. Maryland alumnus Etan Horowitz is now Senior Mobile Editor at CNN. Alyssa Meritt is the Head of Strategic Consulting at Urban Airship.

  • 70% of users abandon an app in as little as a month, demonstrating the necessity of good content
  • It's important to allow users to easily opt in or out of push alerts to better personalize their social media experience
  • New technology such as the Apple watch is shortening engagement time

App alerts are latest way for news organizations to engage mobile readers

Story Highlights:

  • News organizations are using app alerts to extend their brand and engage with mobile readers.
  • Customizability and personalization are important features to readers when signing up for app alerts.
  • App alerts require unique, tailored content and editing.

Quick reads, custom content key to engaging readers of news alerts, experts say

Story Highlights:
  • Online News Association panelists in London focus on mobile apps
  • Customization key to engagement by readers of news alerts
  • Smart watch owners spend as little as three seconds reading alerts

Personalization is key to success for push alerts, say panel experts

Story Highlights:
·      Users who can customize alerts are more likely to keep using them
·      Android devices are more customizable than iOS for push alert personalization
·      Click-through metrics are not the only measure of success for push alerts

Etan Horowitz, Senior Mobile Editor, CNN and Alyssa Meritt, Head of Strategic Consulting, Urban Airship at the 2016 Online News Association conference in London
Push alerts were the focus of discussion for CNN’s Senior Mobile Editor Etan Horowitz and Alyssa Meritt, head of strategic consulting for Urban Airship, as featured panelists at the annual Online News Association Conference in London on April 1, 2016.

One major theme they discussed relating to mobile device push alerts was personalization. Horowitz says, “Always have an easy way for people to opt in, opt out, customize and change.”

He notes that Android devices are more capable of personalization, and points to the inclusion of specific sports team logos within push alerts as one area where Android shines. “iOS is a bigger audience but the engagement on Android is a lot higher, and the thought is, it’s because of some of these features.”
Panelists discuss the importance of push alert personalization, including the New York Times' screen with a bell symbol that allows users to select or deselect notifications.
Meritt talks about the New York Times app. Its little bell-shaped symbol at the top right side of the screen, which can be switched on or off, is a way to note behavioral preference. “What kind of content would you want to push out to me?” She says news organizations are following practices used in retail, “where we’re pairing behavior as well as consumer preference.” 

An example of this, she says, is someone who claims to prefer business news, but actually clicks on more entertainment stories. A news organization would likely send push alerts to that user relating to both business and entertainment news, following their stated preferences and also their actual habits of engagement.
Online News Association conference attendees were engaged with their computers and mobile devices during the panel on push alerts.
Horowitz points to a specific, important customization for sports news apps: the “spoiler alert.” This allows users to switch on or off alerts specifically relating to a team, or a game, to avoid learning final scores or other vital statistics before they’ve had a chance to watch the event itself.

“It’s important when you load the app, to have it be something that people can modify easily when they want,” Horowitz says.

Geographic location and user context are other important factors when considering the message length, content and frequency of push alerts, the panelists say.

Horowitz also brings up the complexity of measuring effectiveness of push alerts. The rate of click-through from push notification to app is measured, but he says, “I think it’s important that we don’t think of click-through as the only metric.”

He says, “How do you capture somebody that gets an alert that looks at it and says, ‘hey, thanks BBC’ or ‘thanks CNN.’ They didn’t click and give you that metric, but they’re being satisfied by something you offer.”

Horowitz says, “It’s not all about the click, and in fact, I like where I see examples of a well-written alert that does the job.”

Saturday, February 24, 2018

26th Medical Cannabis Dispensary Opens in Maryland to Sell Legal Marijuana to Those Who Suffer from Chronic Pain

Story Highlights:
  • Anne Arundel County's first medical cannabis dispensary opens in Linthicum, Maryland.
  • Owners say it took three years to comply with county rules and restrictions.
  • Anne Arundel Community College to offer associate degree in business of marijuana.

Organization Wins in Court Against Trump Over Travel Ban 3.0

by Golshan Jalali

Story highlights:
  • Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB), a nonprofit organization, is one of the leading prosecutors in a lawsuit against the Trump Administration's latest travel ban ordering placing travel restrictions on eight countries. 
  • IAAB v. Trump was successful in an injunction court hearing in October 2017. 
  • The legal battle against Travel ban 3.0 continues, with IAAB succeeding in the Fourth Circuit court in February 2018 after the Supreme Court allowed the ban to take effect in December 2017. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

University of Maryland researchers study how flu spreads on college campus

Story Highlights

  • Evidence shows that flu virus could potentially be spread just through breathing
  • New study tracks sick college students to determine what makes an individual contagious
  • Study may help prevent respiratory virus outbreaks in other densely populated areas  

An aspiring ESOL teacher finds an EPIK opportunity to teach abroad

Story highlights:

  • The EPIK program's mission and the requirements that are needed for applicants
  • The extensive process EPIK has for their prospective teachers
  • A year-long commitment in South Korea and the benefits that come with it

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Struggling to provide assistance, D.C. women face lack of maternal health care

Story Highlights:
  • Healthcare for expecting mothers has been closed or severely diminished in the Washington D.C. area
  • Some of the lower-income or health care illiterate expectant mothers have lost their primary places of care 
  • D.C.  is struggling to lower its national-high maternal mortality rate among female residents 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Spanish immersion student gets homework help from non-Spanish-speaking parents

Story highlights:
  • Non-Spanish-speaking parents choose to send their daughter to a Spanish Immersion school
  • Phyllis E. Williams Elementary School is one of two Spanish Immersion programs in Prince George's County
  • The family feels it is important to expose children to language learning while they are young and language acquisition is easier.

"I go to Phyllis E. Williams Elementary School, and I speak Spanish," says Mary May Riordon-Heil, a second grader. Neither of Mary May's parents, James and Martha Riordon-Heil, speak the language. 

Mary May Riordon-Heil and her mom, Martha looking at homework
Mary May Riordon-Heil looks at her math homework--
with instructions in Spanish--with her mother Martha.
Mary May speaks Spanish for most of the day, learning basics like math and science with Spanish language instruction. There are a few exceptions. "We have an English class and we get to talk English in specials like art and music," she says.

"It's a learning experience for us as well," says Martha. "I learned a lot of languages in high school, but it was too late. Mary May is learning Spanish at the right age, where she will really absorb it."

Phyllis E. Williams is a full Spanish Immersion school in Upper Marlboro, one of two such programs in Prince George's County. Their program started with Kindergarten and currently runs through 3rd grade. According to their website, the program will add a grade every year until eventually the entire school is Spanish Immersion.

Mary May gained entry to the school via a lottery run by the county school system. Because of sibling preference, her younger sister Nikki will have a better chance of getting into the same program when it's time for her to enroll next year.

Though neither Martha nor James, both science writers, speaks a foreign language, it's clear from a visit to their home that teaching their children to be multi-lingual is a priority. Furniture, doorways, light switches, and other household items are tagged with labels in French. They are training their young dog with Spanish commands. "SiƩntate!" they say to the dog when they want him to sit.

Martha says, "I love the program!" Mary May laughs, and says that she and Martha were at the swimming pool recently, and Martha got into a conversation with the mother of a child who will be starting school in the fall. Martha convinced the parent to put in an application to Phyllis E. Williams Elementary School.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Quite the View: Collecting and "Ownership" on the Bay

It's a special sight to behold along Chesapeake Walk. The first is that of the Bay Bridge. And the second? That would be David Delia getting a haircut from his wife on their second story balcony. While Margaret trims, Dave is gazing out at the various waterfowl feeding near their pier. It's a day when there's a slight breeze. There's no need for Margaret to sweep up Dave's white hair. (He jokes that the birds use it as nesting material.) And there's no need to do anything at all, but relax and get a home.

Dave Delia's collection of marker buoys from crab pots

Story highlights:

  • Chesapeake Walk is a place for both home owners and dog walkers to enjoy
  • How to get the Blue Angels to come a little closer and not be shy
  • Volunteerism in your community helps both you and your neighbors
  • The view of the Bay isn't owned by anyone, but enjoyed by all

Saturday, February 3, 2018