Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for December 2002

Tue, 31 Dec 2002 09:07:23 GMT

On the eve of another year, it’s always interesting to look back on the past twelve months and to try and build a picture of what’s happened and what’s coming next.

2002 on the whole was another tough year for the PR business. But while many agencies cut numbers and even closed their doors there was some good news. In particular some research pointed to better days ahead but these were soon countered with research that found things will only get worse – the truth as always is somewhere in between!

Blogs were obviously the hottest topic in the online PR world and there was plenty of good advice on how to tackle them. Meanwhile our colleagues in the media were looking at how blogs might change their world.

Of course there was plenty of off beat PR news during the year, consultants were pushing their luck on expenses, innovative services were launched, plain talking was championed and one of our number was even incarcerated (1,793 days of probation left seemingly).

2002 was also the year that PR was strongly promoted as a tier one marketing discipline, journalists did some soul searching on the crash, and last but not least, PR became a commodity that could be tenedered over ebay

So a tough year, but not the worst, and fingers crossed the positive indicators for 2003 hold steady. Happy New Year and here’s to a great 2003.

Written by Tom Murphy

December 31, 2002 at 10:07 am

Posted in General

Tue, 24 Dec 2002 12:01:18 GMT

Well postings will be a little sparse during the Holiday period. So let me take this moment to wish you all Merry Christmas (or your own alternative!).

To finish off for the moment, PR Week have a review of 2002, and their look back at the year makes depressing reading! Enron and Worldcom destroying corporate reputations, Agencies baring the brunt of a slowing economy with widespread lay-offs and closures. That pretty much sums it up…farewell 2002!

PRWeek have also published their PR lists for 2002 (Adobe Acrobat required) which is a fantastic look at the year. Highly recommended.

Till next time!

Written by Tom Murphy

December 24, 2002 at 1:01 pm

Posted in General

Mon, 23 Dec 2002 13:40:32 GMT

Nestle has a long and proud history of regularly shooting itself in the foot.

It’s most virulent opponents have seized Nestle’s attempts to aggressively market infant food in the third world and turned it into a global lobby.

There are many strategies for dealing with Non-Govermental Organizations (NGOs) but I don’t think making ridiculous financial claims on disadvantaged countries would be one of the first to jump to mind for more PR people.

But that’s just what Nestle is doing. It is demanding a payment of $6 million from Ethiopia for the nationalization of one of its subsidiaries back in 1986.

Ethiopia is on the brink of another savage famine. Nestle is a wealthy, multi-billion dollar, global conglomerate. Anyone see the disparity.

Not content with hurting their reputation through this claim, Nestle are now saying it’s a point of principle!!!! To put this all in perspective, according to a CNN report, the average person in Ethiopia makes less than $2 a day, while the Swiss giant makes about $6 million every hour.

There’s some great content on the web around this, check out CNN for the latest news. And the UK Guardian has two excellent pieces looking at this disaster from a PR perspective. They are written by journlist Julia Day and a second story from PR-consultant Mark Borkowski.

Written by Tom Murphy

December 23, 2002 at 2:40 pm

Posted in General

Mon, 23 Dec 2002 12:52:37 GMT


According to a survey carried out by Media Life Magazine, over 50% of respondents picked Maxim as the magazine that has the greatest influence on other publications. US Weekly came in second with 21% of the poll.

Unsurprisingly, Martha Stewart was chosen as Media Villan of the Year with 56% of the vote.

Written by Tom Murphy

December 23, 2002 at 1:52 pm

Posted in General

Mon, 23 Dec 2002 12:46:28 GMT

Season’s Greetings. Although PR Opinions is *not* a blog about blogs, there is some interesting stuff on blogging in general which I’ve found over the past couple of days. I simply post it for your perusal!

The Washington Post has a piece on Blogging Going Mainstream. It references a recent article in the UK Independent that asks if the current popularity in blogging has anything to do with the higher than usual unemployment rates in Silicon Valley and a lot of technical people with lots of time on their hands. Interesting, but I think that’s wide of the mark.

Infoworld has a reader poll on blogs this week that has some interesting findings (particularly given Infoworld’s “technical” readership). The question they asked was:

“Do you or your company publish a blog (Weblog)?”

3.6%. A. Both. My company and I both maintain Weblogs.
7.2%. B. Yes. My company publishes a Weblog.
4.8%. C. Yes. I maintain a personal Weblog.
43.4%. D. No. Neither I nor my company publishes a Weblog.
41.0%. E. None of the above, “what’s a Weblog?” or “why should I?”

Written by Tom Murphy

December 23, 2002 at 1:46 pm

Posted in General

Thu, 19 Dec 2002 07:52:01 GMT

We’ve come to that time of the year again when the planning process rears its ugly head.

Planning is indeed a challenging �science�. So here�s a welcome distraction.

For the more technical amongst us, you may have noticed recently the formal death of IBM�s PC operating system OS/2. OS/2 was once touted by IBM and industry pundits as the product that would take the wind out of Microsoft�s sales (sic).

While reading about the formal demise of OS/2, I happened upon a detailed history of the operating system (bear with me there is a planning angle here!) and there were some very interesting details on the assumptions IBM made while planning the launch of the IBM Personal Computer in 1981:

1) IBM expected to sell 275,000 Personal Computers over the five year product life (They received 250,000 orders before the product was formally introduced and another 250,000 the day it launched)
2) Small business would be the predominant purchaser of the PC
3) Large business would stick with mainframes and dumb terminals
4) A few departments at large firms would use PCs for local, non-connected work
5) The PC would be used for one task only � all day long � never more than one.

So the moral is, no matter how badly you plan, you�ll probably have a better batting average than IBM at the launch of the PC. And I think you could say they were very successful!

Written by Tom Murphy

December 19, 2002 at 8:52 am

Posted in General

Wed, 18 Dec 2002 12:30:33 GMT

As we begin to wind up yet another year. It’s always a good time to evaluate progress and look forward.

In this spirit, Euro RSCG Worldwide [Flash Alert! Flash Alert!] have cleverly published their “Top Trends for 2003” which is a very interesting look at some possible trends that will affect marketers over the coming year(s). (Thanks to Richard Bailey for the link)

On a related note, the Knowledge Capital Group, a firm that specializes in analyst relations services, publishes a regular newsletter with news and opinions called AR Insider.

If you are working with analysts it’s worth getting. Their latest missive looks at the annual review of analyst subscriptions and has some solid advice. [Though as a side note, I think their ratios which states that if you’re selling a product for over a $1M then you should be spending five or ten times more on AR than PR is a little inaccurate!]

I particularly like their article this month on OMBs (One Man Bands) or those analysts/pundits who set themselves up as industry experts.

Written by Tom Murphy

December 18, 2002 at 1:30 pm

Posted in General

Wed, 18 Dec 2002 12:13:04 GMT

Your mission (as a PR professional) should you wish to accept it, is to understand how, why and when your audience(s) find information and use information. We seem to be in a temporary lull in terms of understanding how online and offline come together.

During the dotcom boom we all drank the Kool Aid, the Internet was taking over, we’d be working, communicating, socializing and shopping online without leaving our warm beds. Then the crash came, the Internet didn’t look so attractive anymore, maybe it was a fad after all.

The truth, as always, is somewhere in between. PR people will communicate online and offline, with both environments playing a major role in your communications activities.

While we understand offline pretty well, we still need to hone our online understanding and how the two intersect.

Among the questions we have to answer are what tactics work, where are the audience and what do they want?

It’s further complicated by the fact that different markets and geographies will most probably have different habits.

With that in mind, the New York Times has a fantastic piece on how retailers are finding that getting the online – offline mix correct is critical to the success of their business.

“..the fastest growth appears to be coming from retailers that have mastered how to use the Internet in conjunction with catalogs, stores or both.”

Written by Tom Murphy

December 18, 2002 at 1:13 pm

Posted in General

Tue, 17 Dec 2002 07:46:03 GMT

November 1995 was the month that the Internet became more than just an online library for PR professionals everywhere.

It was the month that Intel’s Pentium flaw became a mainstream news item thanks to newsgroups on the Internet.

The story wasn’t news in the technology community where EETimes, having found out about the flaw in the newsgroups, had already ran, according to Howard High at Intel “a fair, balanced piece”.

But when CNN stumbled over the same newsgroup postings during Thanksgiving, they ran it as a major story and it was picked up by every major magazine and newspaper across the globe. In the end it cost Intel $470 million.

Although Intel made some mistakes after the CNN story broke (such as refusing immediate replacements) overall the incident had a positive outcome in terms of awareness and the added benefit for Intel of direct interaction with end-users.

But there’s no doubt that the Internet demanded a lot more respect from communications professionals from that moment on.

December 2002 may be remembered as the month blogs began to seriously impact reputation.

John Podhoretz at the New York Post has an interesting piece on how blogs were responsible for leading the charge against Trent Lott and his praise for 1948 segregationist presidential candidate Strom Thurmond.

Podhoretz credits blogs with driving the story onto the media agenda after it had been pretty much ignored by traditional media outlets.

It may not be *the* defining moments for blogs, but it’s a strong indication that their importance is rising and you need to understand the implications for your clients and your business.

Of course I realize I am preaching to the converted 🙂

Written by Tom Murphy

December 17, 2002 at 8:46 am

Posted in General

Mon, 16 Dec 2002 15:27:39 GMT

MORI (Market & Opinion Research International) the UK’s “largest independently-owned market research company” (Ref: interviewed UK financial and business journalists during the Summer of 2002 and found that the top ten sources of information (in order of preference) are:
1) Telephone conversations with company executives (not PR)
2) Company Public Relations Personnel
3) Personnel interviews with company executives (not PR)
4) Press Releases
5) Articles about companies
6) Financial Analysts
7) News agencies
8) PR Agencies
9) Websites
10) Company annual reports

The most interesting thing I see in the study is how highly press releases are ranked and secondly that financial analysts have gained one place in this year’s top ten.

For all the criticism aimed at press releases, they still play a role in press relations – in fact they gained one place this year.

It seems that the issues that have surfaced about a small number of (albeit high profile) US financial analysts hasn’t affected their profession’s credibility in the UK at all.

There’s a lot more interesting (UK) research at the MORI site. Worth a look.

Written by Tom Murphy

December 16, 2002 at 4:27 pm

Posted in General