Effective communications starts at the beginning… with insight

If you spend any time browsing blogs, RSS, Twitter, FriendFeed etc. etc., you will no doubt read a lot of opinion on why online communication is the only good, right and true type of communication for today’s hip, tuned in PR person.

There’s no question that the nature of communication is evolving.  As more people go online for their news, information and opinions, then communicators need to understand those changes.

However, before you go blowing raspberries at all those hacks working in traditional media, take a few moments.

Great, effective communication doesn’t start with the new new thing, it starts with your audience.

As a profession we’ve traditionally taken a “broad brush” approach to audience insight:

“Well according to them there ABC circulation figures, Acme Today is read by 16m people. Cool, let’s pitch Acme Today.”


Regardless of what you read online, there ain’t no revolution, but there is an evolution. 

Although print is losing share in some markets and verticals, the media houses are doing pretty well online. (And in many cases traditional media like print, radio and TV are holding up pretty well).

Do you really think that all your audience is going to log-in and check 65 different Web 2.0 sites, feeds and networks before starting work in the morning?

I don’t. 

There will of course be online influentials outside traditional media.  Search will continue to be important and I’m sure intelligent aggregation will eventually start to tame the volume of content online.

But right now, the primary challenge you face is getting better insight into your customer. 

Where are they finding information, where are they sharing information, what’s influential.

That’s the starting point in any plan.

Forget what’s cool (for a moment) and do some research.

You  may find your audience is all online, you may discover none of them are online, or more likely you’ll discover it’s a mixture.

Traditional media is alive and well.  So too is new emerging online media and tools.

The bad news is that we’re probably facing into more fragmentation, but if you develop great insight into your audience, then you’ll choose the right tools and the right tactics.

Focus on your audience.


Editor’s Note:

Although I realise it’s the term-de-jour, the phrase “Perfect Storm” is fast becoming the most annoying term on the Interweb.  Everything is a perfect storm these days.  What happened to plain old storms or bad weather or even some wind*?

(*Any commenters making double entendre gags about the amount of “wind” online will be scolded)

Supplemental links:

  • Neville’s post shows how face-to-face blog relations can be very effective.
  • Andrew has a very interesting post on how Infoworld has evolved (shock: traditional media lives online!)  – though I tend to believe that if you emphasise print over online or vice versa, it should be based on customer insight.

Planes, blogs, students and radios..

Shel Hotz ponders whether you’re better off with an “official” blogger or just have staff with blogs.  Guess what? It depends… I agree, in fact it’s probably best to have both!


Meanwhile his FIR colleague, Mr. Hobson blogs on research that finds podcasts are boosting radio audiences.  Makes a lot of sense, and that’s some good evidence that new media AND old media can get along in harmony with no one dying. Imagine that.


Jessica Lawlor sent me an e-mail an embarrassingly long time ago about a blog herself an fellow students set up as part of their activities building a student-run agency. What a fantastic idea! I wish I had that initiative in college!


Also I got a great mail from Termeh Mazhari who works with AMP3 PR in New York and has launched a blog to get the conversation going. The more the merrier!


Hans Kullin is surprised that Ryanair is trying to “spin” CEO Michael O’Leary’s “beds and blowjobs” comment at a recent press conference in Germany “in a positive way”. Ryanair are a fascinating case study on PR execution.  Like them or not, they are smart and creative.. and yes very edgy.  However, even at the height of a given negative media onslaught in Ireland, it never seemed to have had an adverse impact on sales – and they are pretty smart in capitalising on relevant news trends. The only theory that I can offer is that consumers perceive their service to be such good value that it offsets any negative media impact – and in fact the controversies probably help to drive awareness that is in keeping with the brand :-).  They are a company that has mastered the art of managing customer expectations.

A place to put your digital stuff

So, you’re now officially digital.

Fantastic. Well done.

You now have your photos in Flickr, well most of them, you have your music online and oh offline, you have your documents on that external hard drive and on eh… SkyDrive… is it?

The reality is that you have digital content all over the Interweb, and all over your house, your hard drive, your devices and your desktop.  If you’re like me it’s probably growing faster than a fixed interest rate.

So how do you manage it?  Probably with great difficulty or worse…not at all.

This is where Joe Drumgoole‘s new company PutPlace comes to the rescue.

It’s a smart digital content management service. 

It tracks your content: where it lives, what it is, what the most recent version is, and ensures that if the worst comes to the worst (and you know it will!) you’ll still have your memories, content and music.

Joe is a friend and former colleague, and they’ve been working on the service for quite a while, why not give it a try, you only have peace of mind at stake!

They’ve just opened up the beta programme, you can sign up here.


Joe: Feature request, any chance you could create something similar for Web 2.0 services and log-ins? And if anyone says FriendFeed you’re in deep trouble…

Ireland: Interview with Vincent Browne

Marketing magazine has an interesting one-to-one with Vincent Browne covering all the areas (and media outlets) you’d expect ref: RTÉ, Independent News and Media, TV3, Village and the Sunday Tribune.

I use the internet a lot. It’s changed journalism significantly, in ways that haven’t been properly appreciated. Because of the difficulties there used to be in getting access to information, there had be investigative journalism, which relied mainly on getting information from people rather than from documents.

Now, the vast amount of documents that are available through official government sites is just enormous. It’s a question of making sense of those and knowing where to find them and what to find. The documents are far more reliable than people. I’m not saying people necessarily tell lies but naturally that memories and perceptions can be faulty.

The challenge of journalism now is making sense of this vast amount of information available on the internet. That, to a large extent, is what journalism has turned into. Of course, you still get tip offs from people on matters of importance.

<via Cian Ginty>

Flash Hall of Shame

In May 2002 I started a little personal campaign against Flash intros, after all who in the world wants to waste seconds of their life watch a self-serving ad after taking the trouble of visiting your web site.

The list grew so long I created a couple of web pages for them.  Unfortunately the page suffered neglect for the past couple of years.

Recently, in a fit of rare efficiency I re-directed my old blog URL to www.tpemurphy.com and completely forgot to migrate the old Flash Hall of Fame.



Alice reminded me earlier today, so I’ve republished it in its former glory (broken links and all) at: http://www.tpemurphy.com/Flash/

You never know, I might even update it one of these days!