Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for May 2002

Thu, 30 May 2002 19:08:49 GMT

Looking after the details…

Interesting PR anecdote I heard today. A journalist attending the third in a series of different press conferences was delighted to find copius amounts of coffee, water and cookies. When he complimented the PR handler on the provision of the food and beverages, the journalist was informed that the chosen brands of cookies had been selected after testing had revealed they were the only brands not to make noise that would be picked up on the media microphones. Now that’s looking after the details! (and they didn’t make any noise!)

Written by Tom Murphy

May 30, 2002 at 8:08 pm

Posted in General

Thu, 30 May 2002 08:19:19 GMT

Flash Hall of Shame (#5)

PerkettPR…why oh why oh why…

Written by Tom Murphy

May 30, 2002 at 9:19 am

Posted in General

Wed, 29 May 2002 12:58:42 GMT

Reality PR 2.0

There’s a recent article on Silicon entitled ‘Public Relations workforce: Feeling the Squeeze”, it follows on from dozens of stories over the past 6-12 months detailing PR’s fall from the heights and excesses of the Internet boom. There’s nothing new here, but it’s a timely reminder of how the PR industry milked the boom and exposed an extraordinary lack of business acumen.

Let’s not forget that during the boom, PR companies were hosting start-up beauty parades, asking entrepreneurs to justify why they should be added to the agency roster and then asking for exhorbitant retainers. This greed boom in the PR industry outstripped the excesses of every other professional discipline. The fact that the feathered farm animals are coming home to roost for many of these agencies is not a cause for pity or sympathy. As the old adage goes “if you live by the sword….”.

So PR now has to go back to responsibly managing business, working hard at finding new business and working harder at retaining existing business. What’s the problem? Those folks doing good jobs at competitive rates and tying activities back to their client’s objectives will thrive and prosper. Those dealing in ‘black magic’ and charging high unjustified costs will fade into memory. In effect, the market will decide and that is no bad thing.

One quote from the article that sums this up for me was from Upstart’s general manager Patty Lund. Now I must admit I was surprised by it, so maybe it’s out of context but the quote says; “What’s important to companies right now is revenue.” Hello? Revenue is ALWAYS what’s important to companies. The problem during the boom was that companies and the PR advisors lost sight of the importance of revenue. If your PR program isn’t helping directly or indirection to creating revenue – stop, rethink, re-plan and re-execute! Let me know what you think.

Written by Tom Murphy

May 29, 2002 at 1:58 pm

Posted in General

Tue, 28 May 2002 14:35:07 GMT

Journalists outline the same old media no no’s

It seems that some PR people continue to commit the cardinal sins of media relations. In an article in O’Dwyer’s today a journalist from Venture Reporter outlines the common issues. Nothing new but recommended reading for anyone not sure of the right and wrong way to pitch…

Written by Tom Murphy

May 28, 2002 at 3:35 pm

Posted in General

Tue, 28 May 2002 10:22:52 GMT

Weblog now updated!

I have successfully moved all my previous PR blogs here. Unfortunately they are all spread over just a couple of days but that was unavoidable! I’ll be adding more links to the left-hand column. If you have any thoughts on what you read here, by all means drop me a line at

Written by Tom Murphy

May 28, 2002 at 11:22 am

Posted in General

Tue, 28 May 2002 09:42:32 GMT

Flash Hall of Shame (#4)

Pan Communications has a truly awful Flash intro and to compound its awfulness there’s not even a skip intro. Good to see a PR agency putting all their faith in advertising…


Flash Hall of Shame (#3)

Acclaro International…no more needs to be said


The Internet…Is PR just roadkill?

Any research I find regarding how the Internet will change or affect the PR industry seems to declare that the key change in the post-Internet PR landscape is speed and that the Internet is making everyone’s job easier.

There is something rather worrying about this belief among practitioners. In an ongoing series, I take a look at these findings.

PR people are obsessed with speed on the Internet. But is speed one of the core change agents? I think not. If speed was the ‘killer application’ then pre-Internet agencies would have been boasting that their account executives could type fax numbers faster than any other agency, or they have the fastest stamp lickers on the Eastern seaboard.

There’s no doubt that the Internet is fast and does introduce a new element of speed to all our activities. But speed as the defining change on the Internet? What about communities, changed behaviour, PR’s growing role communicating outside the media? Speed is a charateristic, but not an agent of change.

Making life easier
The Internet does provide tools to automate a lot of activity that previously accounted for much of people’s time in the PR business. But the belief that the Internet will make PR people’s lives easier is misplaced – seriously misplaced.

The Internet provides a new environment that sits alongside, not replaces, traditional media outlets. It fosters new behaviour among audiences, and opens new opportunities for the PR profession to communicate with these communities. But these opportunities are challenging and potentially make all our jobs harder and longer. The Internet may have made our job easier in the mid-90’s, but in 2002 a new agenda is brewing and it’s not going to be easy.

Let me know if you have any thoughts by clicking on the small envelope on the right, I’ll be adding more to this stream of consciousness in the coming days and weeks.


PR Topic: Online versus Offline Coverage

There’s a great article on the Online Journalism Review (a definite addition to any PR person’s Favorites) on how some magazines are responding to a difficult commercial environment by moving online, either as a temporary measure or for good. The three magazines profiled are Darwin, Gadfly and LiP. From the technology sector you could also add Internet Week to that list.

The article was brought to my attention by Adam Sherk on the Adventive I-PR mailing list, where he asks what is the perceived value of print versus online coverage. It’s an interesting question, particularly given our industry’s less than stellar record on bringing PUBLIC (my emphasis) Relations online.

I believe measuring the value of coverage online or offline involves the same metric. How many of your target audience are reading? That’s the measure that matters. A well positioned piece in an online site with 10,000 readers in your target market is, in my terrifically humble opinion, far better than a similar piece in a national newspaper read by 1 million people where none of them are in the slightest bit interested. (I will accept this is a simplistic comparison).

Finding out where your audience is offline and online is the biggest challenge. If publishers can successfully attract the right audience using an online zine, a print version or both – they will thrive.

Written by Tom Murphy

May 28, 2002 at 10:42 am

Posted in General

Tue, 28 May 2002 09:37:17 GMT

PR is absolutely fabulous

The PR profession leaves itself regualrly open to multiple forms of abuse from the media and others. The barriers to offering ‘PR’ services have always been low and the advent of the Internet has lowered them even further. The other problem for PR is the breadth of its service.

PR is employed in every field of commercial (and non-commercial) endevour. From Haute Couture to nanotechnology, PR people work hard to promote their clients’ brands. Many of these sectors demand fundamentally different type of PR activities, so different in fact, they might as well be different professions. And that’s the problems.

People typically group us all together in whatever PR-field they percieve PR. For many it’s the Absolutely Fabulous, gin and tonic swilling party-goer, for others it’s the percieved sinister political spinning. Like any profession these are the extremes, not the norm.

I found an article (registration required) in last week’s UK Sunday Times that made my blood boil. It’s a piece of journalism that illustrates why some journalists need to get their own house in order before they high-handedly attack PR people. The article, and I use the word advisedly focuses completely on the world of ‘fashion’ PR. It doesn’t explore the diversity of PR, just focuses on parties and giveaways. In summary it doesn’t in any way reflect the career I have worked hard in and enjoyed for well over a decade.

Yet while it only represents one small piece of the PR industry, it purports to profile ‘PR’ as a profession. There’s no balance, no third party views.

Its a great example of a journalist, who in attempting to mount a crusade against a profession on the basis that it’s lightweight and fickle has in her efforts highlighted the fact that her own profession is not without reproach when it comes to standards.

Written by Tom Murphy

May 28, 2002 at 10:37 am

Posted in General