Apps Put History at our Fingertips

By Karen Hendricks

Welcome to “Gettysburg Social!” This bi-monthly column examines the latest social media trends, while highlighting Gettysburg and Adams County businesses. This article was first published in Celebrate Gettysburg magazine, July/August 2013.

The saying goes, “Everything old is new again,” and how very true when new technology aids us in better understanding American history. With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War upon us, I thought it would be highly appropriate to examine a tech trend that can literally put history at our fingertips.

Apps, short for application programs, are downloaded to mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets, and they aid us in everyday tasks such as finding directions, checking the weather or alerting us to the latest news. Lots of apps also entertain us. Angry Birds, anyone?

Gettysburg 150th Walking Tour

Gettysburg 150th Walking Tour

Apps are tailored for our various devices—primarily Android devices or Apple products, such as iPhones.  In 2008, when the iPhone launched, there were 800 apps available. Just five years later, that number has exploded to 775,000 according to Apple.

So, going back in time 150 years, I wonder what Abraham Lincoln would think about mobile devices aiding in our study of his Gettysburg Address and specific events from the Civil War…

Whether you live in Adams County or are visiting, here are three mobile apps—all free and available for iPhone, iPad or iPod—that can enhance your appreciation of Gettysburg’s history. (Tip: Connect ear buds to your device for optimal experience.)

Gettysburg 150th Walking Tour: Developed by the Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau, this app features a tour of key downtown Gettysburg landmarks with voiceover narration.

PA Markers: Stories Behind the Signs

PA Markers: Stories Behind the Signs

The Civil War Trust’s Gettysburg Battle App: Stories, videos, audio, maps, facts and images work together to bring the Battle of Gettysburg to life in two key locations—Devil’s Den and Little Round Top.

PA Markers: Drive any given stretch of roadway in Pennsylvania, and you’re bound to see navy blue historical signs. This app, developed by public radio and television station WITF, provides brief history lessons behind all 500-plus signs in the Keystone State.

Two additional apps fill the gaps in your travels in Adams County and beyond: The new Celebrate Gettysburg magazine app puts every issue conveniently at your fingertips and the Maryland Civil War Trails app takes you across the Mason-Dixon Line for history, events, restaurants and much more. 

Do you utilize apps while traveling and exploring? Feel free to leave a comment and share your favorites!

For previous Gettysburg Social articles, see:

Blogging… from Battlefields to Bliss

Springtime Tweets

Pinterest: Introducing “Gettysburg Social”


5 Tips for Business Blogs

By Karen Hendricks

Photo Credit: Stock Images

Photo Credit: Stock Images

Utilized as a marketing tool, blogging is one of the easiest, user-friendly and cost-effective options. It’s not just for large or Forture 500 companies either; small businesses and organizations can reap giant benefits by including a blog within the nuts and bolts of a marketing plan. I’ve had the opportunity to speak about blogging as a marketing tool several times recently and two questions keep popping up: What should I blog about? And how is my blog different from other forms of marketing outreach?

Well, assuming that you’re already maintaining a few marketing essentials, here’s how a blog fits into the mix:

  • Website: Your core marketing presence, your company website is stocked with essential information on your business or services, and links to all other marketing channels. Your website can be thought of as “home base.”
  • Newsletters: Enewsletters and printed newsletters come directly to your inbox or mailbox and contain timely news and offers through call-to-action campaigns. Subscription links should appear on the website homepage; newsletters can be housed under one of your website’s tabs.
  • Social Media: Whether you have a business page on Facebook or a company Twitter account, I describe social media as short and sweet bursts of information that keep your customers current and engaged in your day-to-day happenings. Feeds or sign-up links should appear on the website homepage.
  • Blog: Like social media, your company blog should be current. But unlike social media, it’s not limited to 140 characters or thereabouts. Not that it should be lengthy, but it’s the perfect medium for a more in-depth conversation. Yes, blogs are conversations, because they create interaction via comments and responses from your readers. But before the word “reader” scares you, let me assure you that you don’t have to be a prolific writer. In fact, photos are essential to a blog’s success. And a blog can flow right into a page or even the homepage of your company website, enhancing all other content. It’s a vital piece of the puzzle.

Ok, so now let’s address blog subjects. Here are five basic ideas to keep your company blog rolling:

1. Go behind-the-scenes with your business.  Photographs or videos are critical! Use them to demonstrate how your products are made or feature your employees. This “insider’s view” will help your customers gain a deeper appreciation for your business.

2. Inform/educate. Share tips and how-to guides, highlight partner businesses or explain services you provide. Be careful to balance information with a light, conversational tone. This gives your customers a well-rounded view of your business and all it entails and portrays you as an expert in your field.

 3. Share “success stories” through the eyes of your customers.  Accompanied by photos, feature customers using your products/services or showcase customers who’ve provided glowing testimonials. What better way to thank your core customers and create buzz at the same time!

4. Vary the point of view. Allowing different writers to contribute to the company blog will keep it fresh and provide a variety of input from all angles. This is a great way for your customers to get to know the people behind your business as well.

5. Have fun! Don’t forget to add a dash of entertainment once in a while too. Feature a YouTube video related to your business or share photos of your employees or customers enjoying a light-hearted moment. Smiles and laughter are invaluable!

Recommended Blog Links:

Handmade in PA is a blog run by the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen and includes a wonderful diversity of posts, all focused on the arts in PA, by more than 15 contributors (and I’m proud to say I am one of them!).

Whole Foods features a blog that does a great job of going behind-the-scenes with growers around the world and “feeds” readers a steady stream of nutritious news.

Robyn Graham Photography features a blog I check several times a week for inspiration. Graham showcases her work by combining beautiful images and poetry.

Habitat for Humanity and the Red Cross both weave engaging stories about their organizations’ missions through their blogs. 

For fun, I’ve been engaged in a blog project, Off the Merry-Go-Round, that combines the writing talents of six women. Blogging together, we share tips and stories on family life, but in the process, we’ve also forged fabulous friendships!