Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for December 2002

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

Fri, 13 Dec 2002 15:03:05 GMT

There’s no question that rumors present a quandry. Rumors can be very damaging to your reputation and your business.

But what if the rumor is positive? What if it’s creating buzz and anticipation around future product launches long before you’re prepared to talk about them. What if these rumors come from people who are truly committed to your company and your products?

Should you strong arm the offenders? Should you ignore it and secretly delight that people love your firm enough that they are willing to speculate about future revenue earners?

We’ve discussed Apple before and it’s clear that their approach is to crush the rumors and their sources.

To a certain extent I can understand that they are sensitive about the intellectual property around their designs. After all their innovative design has translated into improved sales and survival.

I think the news that Apple is suing a contractor who Apple say stole company trade secrets and posted them on the web is fair enough. They are running a business and they have the right to protect it.

However, hopefully they will take a more casual line with the Apple enthusiasts who share their rumors and ideas ahead of major Apple events. There is a difference between espionage and enthusiasm, I hope Apple will find the balance.

Written by Tom Murphy

December 13, 2002 at 4:03 pm

Posted in General

Thu, 12 Dec 2002 10:02:54 GMT

Thanks to PR firm G2B Group, their newsletter had an interesting link to an interview on with Jimmy Guterman on the demise of Media Unspun and also on Blogs. According to Technology Marketing, Guterman is now looking after a new weekly online column called “Media Notes” over at Business 2.0

At the Supernova conference, Dan Gillmor gave a talk on Journalism 3.1 that covered how blogs and journalism are converging. BoingBoing has blogged the talk here.

Finally, Susan Trainer at Trainer PR got a great mention on Dave Winer’s popular Scripting news. Nice.

Written by Tom Murphy

December 12, 2002 at 11:02 am

Posted in General

Thu, 12 Dec 2002 09:34:16 GMT

Scott Adams casts his sharp eye on journalism…

Dilbert on Journalism

Written by Tom Murphy

December 12, 2002 at 10:34 am

Posted in General

Wed, 11 Dec 2002 08:34:18 GMT

The term �Buzz� has been around since the first bloom of the dot com bubble. Buzz is simply a cooler term for that old favourite �Word of Mouth� � an idea what has been around for decades. And let�s be honest there�s very little difference.

What is different is that the Internet potentially creates a perfect environment for powerful Buzz or Word of Mouth 2.0 (WOM 2) if you prefer.

But let�s step back for a moment. The promise of word of mouth is that people will discover information from respected sources and because they are respected, people will want to find out more. Is this not one of the basic tenets of Public Relations?

It seems to me that if any profession is ready made to manage and create buzz, it�s PR.

So why is PR not driving the discussion? Why is it �Internet� marketers who are running with the idea?

I say it�s high time we take the lead on WOM 2, understand how it works, how it�s measured and how we can integrate it into our plans and tactics.

I don�t believe that WOM 2 is about false postings to bulletin boards � it�s unsophisticated, can normally be easily spotted and it removes on of the core requirements for WOM 2 – namely the medium must be a respected source � not a stranger. It�s also why companies that hire beautiful people to loudly discuss new consumer electronics or movies in public also miss the point.

WOM 2 is about understanding who the influencers are and providing them with new ideas and products. The people aren�t necessarily your traditional media, they could be a customers, a partner or even a supplier.

So, to kick things off, here�s some essential reading:
– Professors from Yale and Harvard have conducted a study to try and measure WOM 2. You can read about it here.
– Marketing Profs have an article on �Monitoring Buzz�
– Here�s a short piece from Business 2.0 on Building Buzz
Seth Godin�s �Unleashing the idea virus� looks at Buzz and Viral Marketing
– Emanuel Rosen�s �Anatomy of Buzz� looks at how to create and leverage WOM 2

There�s no excuse why you can�t start looking at how you can build WOM 2 for your clients.

Let me know what you think

Written by Tom Murphy

December 11, 2002 at 9:34 am

Posted in General