Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for September 2002

Wed, 18 Sep 2002 12:37:00 GMT

Putting news on the wire…
How many of us have spent a lot of time evaluating the different newswires. Selection normally comes down to personal preference as the differences on the surface are hard to spot. Jon Boroshok takes a look at the different newswire services and wonders does it matter?

Written by Tom Murphy

September 18, 2002 at 1:37 pm

Posted in General

Wed, 18 Sep 2002 07:14:22 GMT

Care and feeding instructions….
“Like it or not, we need each other. You need us to cover the products you’re responsible for, whether they’re your own creations or you work for a public relations firm responsible for getting coverage for your company’s products. We need information from you in order to get our stories done.”

For anyone working with the media who hasn’t seen the Internet Press Guild’s guide to “The Care and Feeding of the Press” it’s definitely worth a read.

Written by Tom Murphy

September 18, 2002 at 8:14 am

Posted in General

Wed, 18 Sep 2002 07:10:30 GMT

Flash Hall of Shame #21…Dogmatic
Words fail me

Written by Tom Murphy

September 18, 2002 at 8:10 am

Posted in General

Wed, 18 Sep 2002 07:04:39 GMT

A time to stop and face the (shower) curtain….
Although far and few between, there are some occasions when a PR professional has to stop and evaluate is there any point fighting what is inevitably a losing battle. After all there are only so many times you can defend the indefensible.

I think PR representatives for former Tyco Chairman L. Dennis Kozlowski must feel they are looking down the barrel of a gun. Dennis’ personal expenses are no laughing matter – $6,000 for a shower curtain, $2,200 for a wastebasket, $1,650 for a (paper) notebook, a $17,100 traveling toilette box, a $445 pin cushion, $5,960 for sheets and the piece de resistance $1m of company funds for his wife’s birthday in Sardinia…. [more]

Written by Tom Murphy

September 18, 2002 at 8:04 am

Posted in General

Tue, 17 Sep 2002 15:43:30 GMT

Searching for solace…

The reality of life online, and something that affects most PR people, is that the greatest source of web traffic (globally) for most web sites comes from Google. Although there are always exceptions, Google reigns the search engine world.

Of course we shouldn’t lose sight of the reason why Google is #1 – simply it’s fast, it’s easy and it’s accurate.

As with all market leaders, not everyone agrees that Google’s leadership position is such as good idea and Google has achieved the highest possible compliment – their own NGO! Google Watch’s mission is to “look at how Google’s monopoly…”. They have released their policy document: “PageRank: Google’s Original Sin“.

Doc Searls doesn’t buy the argument and IMHO until something better comes along I’d agree with Doc. If you need to find something in a hurry Google is the best means of filtering the Web. And of course you can do it by e-mail 🙂

Written by Tom Murphy

September 17, 2002 at 4:43 pm

Posted in General

Mon, 16 Sep 2002 09:39:28 GMT

Come together right now

Over the weekend I spent some time re-reading The Cluetrain Manifesto. I am sure that many of you have already read it, for those of you who haven’t I recommend you purchase it.

The Cluetrain has, in many respects, become a victim of it’s own success. For some people it has become part of the dotcom culture, but to dismiss it lightly would be a grave error. The Cluetrain Manifesto has a lot to offer communications professionals across all marketing disciplines.

Personally, my only (small) gripe with the book is that it can come across as a little too idealistic. It tends to ignore the realities of heavier workloads, increased pressure and less support.

But it excels at challenging you to evaluate how you are communicating, how you are trying to engage your audiences and the effectiveness of your efforts. The Cluetrain encourages you to step back from the usual (and familiar) corporate speak and to instead engage with people one-on-one. If ever there was a theme for PR on the Internet, this is it.

As it states in Thesis 26:
“Public Relations does not relate to the public. Companies are deeply afraid of the markets.”

If you don’t have it, buy it. If you have it, read it again.

Finally I can’t finish without mentioning The Gluetrain Manifesto which takes a satirical look at the Cluetrain. In particular their version of the Cluetrain’s 95 theses always brings a smile to my face:
1. Markets are conversations. Conversations are markets. Markets are he as you are we and we are all together. – Indeed

Read on….

Written by Tom Murphy

September 16, 2002 at 10:39 am

Posted in General

Mon, 16 Sep 2002 09:37:10 GMT

The Internet is dead, long live the Internet

It’s probably eight years since the Internet really began to infiltrate the mainstream. From its discovery by the masses to the hype and subsequent failure of the dotcom entrepreneurs, the Internet has rarely been out of the news. But now it no longer demands the airtime or column inches it once did.

This is probably the strongest single indicator that the Internet has successfully taken its place alongside our traditional media outlets. An air of realism has taken hold. It’s now clear that unlike the more outlandish visions of the pre-bust dotcoms, we won’t be spending all day in our bedrooms working and playing online. In fact we kind of like meeting people in person.

The early expectations for the Internet have been tempered by human behaviour. The Internet has revolutionized communications and as communicators we now have a whole new set of challenges and opportunities. But guess what, traditional face-to-face contact continues to be the most effective means of communication. People still buy newspapers, listen to the radio and watch TV. Just as in the past, the advent of radio didn’t kill print, the Internet has changed the balance of the media landscape but not removed the incumbents.

That said the Internet does have one other unique characteristic that makes it different to the incumbents. And this characteristic will continue to challenge Public Relations practitioners long after webvan, sock puppets and the Industry Standard fade from the memory. Innovation.

Working with TV, radio and print the major challenge is keeping on top of new contacts and programs or titles – particularly in the current media climate. But the Internet as a media hasn’t stopped evolving. There are continual new developments that affect how we reach audiences. And while we must remain cogniscant of new websites and online writers, the innovation I am talking about is more fundamental than that.

The popularity of the Weblog is a good example of Internet innovation that can positively or adversely affect our clients – and it won’t be the last. All PR professionals will need to keep on top of new technologies, channels and means of reaching audiences.

Adding further complexity to the mix, every industry is different, every vertical market is different. And these differences are not necessarily as simple as different web sites, because automotive suppliers may use the Internet differently to software developers. Different tools, channels and web sites.

Do you measure the success of your different tactics online? Do you know how people find your client’s site? More than any other media before it, the Internet demands we track, measure and evaluate activities closely. Not just in terms of PR’s performance and ROI – though that’s essential – but in terms of how and what your clients’ audiences are doing online.

The Internet has provided Public Relations with a dynamic media outlet, that offers more accurate data on the success (and failure) of PR campaigns than ever before. But it also presents challenges.

Get a head start and understand how your clients’ audiences are interacting online. Finding out and testing new techniques could be one of the most valuable exercises you ever undertake. [Comments?]

Written by Tom Murphy

September 16, 2002 at 10:37 am

Posted in General

Thu, 12 Sep 2002 12:37:57 GMT

New Business not getting any easier…
The Holmes Report have done a nice job redesigning their web site – have a look. They have an interesting (if a little depressing) piece on how business development for PR agencies isn’t getting any easier, and in many cases is getting even more difficult (and costly).

Written by Tom Murphy

September 12, 2002 at 1:37 pm

Posted in General

Thu, 12 Sep 2002 12:34:34 GMT

Why are they Dell-aying the job search?
One of the more intriguing corporate PR stories of the week has been reported in O’Dwyer’s PR Daily.

In an official statement from Dell, Tom Green, senior vice president of law and administration states that Dell have ceased their search for a global head of marketing and communications and that their existing VP, Elizabeth Allen is actually OK after all.

I hope Ms. Allen is taking full advantage of this situation with her senior management team. On one hand it is obviously very pleasing for her that they at last recognize her abilities, but it must be truly annoying that they initiated this in the first place.

Green’s statement reads: “At Dell, we periodically explore the outside market for strong senior talent that could potentially strengthen and enhance our internal capabilities. We recently initiated this process for a global marketing and communications leader. After completing an exhaustive review, we are convinced that our Vice President of Corporate Communications, Elizabeth Allen, provides Dell with the most effective and strategic communications leadership for the company. We know that to achieve our ambitious goals for the future, we need the experience, customer-focused leadership and passion that Elizabeth has brought to our senior team. Therefore, we have ended our external search.”

Well done Elizabeth Allen, now drive home your advantage!

Written by Tom Murphy

September 12, 2002 at 1:34 pm

Posted in General

Wed, 11 Sep 2002 11:59:25 GMT

“No legacy is so rich as honesty”
Mr. Shakespeare was never as accurate when it came to Public Relations. In a world that throws up an increasing number of anomalies, a world where the Internet has created a new democracy, where information (both true and false) flows faster and easier, with less control, than ever before, never has Public Relations had a more important role.

I’m not talking about spinning, lying or any of the other dark arts of our profession. Rather I am talking about the sensible, adult management of communications, good counsel to those who face difficulty from actual or percieved missteps.

O’Dwyer PR has an excellent piece by Fraser Seitel (you have to love his understated e-mail address: 🙂 on the benefits of being up front and honest about an issue. It’s a good read.

What worries me is that people still believe keeping their head down – or worse lying – will solve their problems.

When you dust off your old copy of PR 101, you’ll find it has always told us that you have to get the bad news out. (Unless there is some very good reason why you shouldn’t). As Phil Gomes points out, PR isn’t rocket science. Be honest, be accessible and show you regret the mistake(s) and that you are striving to fix the problem.

Keeping your mouth shut normally encourages a trivial problem to escalate out of control. Seitel’s piece does a good job of illustrating best and worst practice.

Jack Welch’s legacy is shrinking with every column inch – a good benchmark for silence – and an illustration that money isn’t the only measure of wealth.

Some more reading…
Yesterday, I received Ketchum’s Technology Practice’s newsletter, TechEdgenews into my inbox. It’s well put together and there’s some interesting stuff in there.

Written by Tom Murphy

September 11, 2002 at 12:59 pm

Posted in General