Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for April 2003

Times they are a changing…

Oftentimes there are a number of small events that come together to create a trend.

Over the past couple of months, we’ve been seeing a number of such events.  Salon’s survivial was one, news that over $2 billion worth of online content was bought last year was another.

Now when the music companies agree to sell music online @ 99 cents a song, you know the Internet is really coming of age. 

The music industry has steadfastly refused to look at the potential of the Internet, and instead spent far too much time worrying about protecting existing business models.

The Apple music store is quite a step forward. Read what Karlin Lillington has to say about it.

Coupled with that news, the New York Times reports that online magazine, Slate is finally making money (thanks to Deborah Branscum for the link).

It seems the Internet is slowly but surely throwing off the post-dot bomb lethargy and quietly becoming a profitable new media channel.

Written by Tom Murphy

April 30, 2003 at 8:33 am

Posted in General

The crisis from within..

The Internet has created an environment where hoaxes, myths and misinformation are a daily occurence.  There’s no doubt that PR people today deal with more crises than ever before.  This of course represents a major challenge for us all and there’s no doubt that monitoring what’s happening online is an increasingly important element of Public Relations.

However, let’s not forget that crises also happen in traditional ways.

New Bedford in Massachusetts recently launched an advertising campaign to promote the town as a tourist destination.  The ads feature New Bedford residents and the first ad featuring a New Bedford sanitation worker ran on Sunday.  The advert, which you can see at the Smoking Gun, features a full page photo of the worker with the word “Pride” emblazoned across the ad.

Only problem is, the sanitation worker in question is a convicted child molester. That’s a good old traditional crisis.

Here’s a story on the launch of the campaign and a story on the error here.

There’s no mention of this on the New Bedford website. Thanks to AdRants for the link.

Written by Tom Murphy

April 30, 2003 at 8:19 am

Posted in General

Some PR reading…

PR Week has an interesting article on how PR agencies are using their clients to win new business.

Spotted an interesting PR job advertSega Europe are looking for an “experienced PR executive” to work across Europe.  What is an experienced PR executive in Sega’s eyes? 1-2 years experience should do it, seemingly….

The Detroit News has a nice story on a prank played on a local PR exec by her staff.

AP Story on Nike defending its Public Relations.

The Portland Business Journal has a story on Waggener Edstrom being selected as one of the top three PR agencies in North America to work for – as the best large agency.  The award is from the Holmes Report. It threw me at first because the survey is from last January.  However I’ve posted it, because it makes interesting reading and I haven’t referenced it before.  The outright winner was Dome Communications with RBB Public Relations in second place.

And finally, what can only be described as one of the more off-beat stories posted here in a while.

Written by Tom Murphy

April 29, 2003 at 4:53 pm

Posted in General

The celluloid portrayal of Public Relations

Yesterday, Adam Sternbergh wrote a piece for the New York Times on how PR people are portrayed on the big screen.  The article is an interesting read and follows the release of “Phone Booth” and Al Pacino’s new film, “People I know”.

Publicists, the “power girls” notwithstanding, have never been fans of scrutiny. They prefer to work just outside the spotlight. This is because they’ve always understood what the rest of us temporarily forgot: that their business is inherently unglamorous and, yes, occasionally ugly. It just looked pretty for a moment.

Some supplementary thoughts are online here.

Written by Tom Murphy

April 28, 2003 at 7:28 am

Posted in General

PR Opinions on vacation until April 28, 2003

PR Opinions will be in hiatus until April 28, 2003 while I am travelling and taking some much needed R&R.  Posting will restart promptly upon my return. 


Written by Tom Murphy

April 17, 2003 at 3:31 pm

Posted in General

The press blog conundrum

The Chicago Tribune has an interesting article by Maureen Ryan on the struggle publishers and broadcasters are having understanding and managing blogging.

Written by Tom Murphy

April 17, 2003 at 3:24 pm

Posted in General

When there is "synergy" in "leveraging" the corporate "symbiosis"

Let’s be honest for a moment.  When you are under pressure, which comes with the profession, sometimes you don’t pay enough attention to your writing style.  Sometimes the most appalling “corporate-isms” sneak into your press releases, backgrounders etc.

Well there’s a website that serves as a welcome reminder to us all.  Corporate Babble provides loads of real examples of corporate speak.  It’s worth a visit – though not if you have an aversion to words like “solutions”, “strategic” etc.

Thanks to the Holmes Report for the link.

Written by Tom Murphy

April 17, 2003 at 3:14 pm

Posted in General

Jumping the gun

As you probably know most media outlets pre-prepare obituaries of prominent world figures.  Then when they pass away, the panic in researching and creating content is reduced.  While this is understandable, it’s probably recommended that they keep this content secreted away until the time is right. Enter the Internet.

Someone on CNN’s web team was obviously playing around, because the CNN website published a load of premature obituaries… and of course The Smoking Gun grabbed them for prosperity. I’m sure Dick Cheney, Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Fidel Castro, Bob Hope and Nelson Mandela will all be interested in how CNN will remember them.

Thanks to Darren Barefoot for the link!

Written by Tom Murphy

April 17, 2003 at 8:04 am

Posted in General

Am I getting old?

I promised myself I would never think these thoughts, but they keep recurring so I have to own up.

I realize I will sound like one someone’s grandparent, but here we go anyway.

Is it me or are people becoming afraid of a bit of hard graft? Public Relations is a business where experience and knowledge are the cornerstones of your professional offering. You can’t purchase either of these items, you have to accumulate them.

What is this new thinking that says “hey I am too good to do this basic stuff, I want to be a consultant, I want to be leading people, I want to be the big earner, I am not happy with mundane rubbish.”

My take on this is as follows.  The PR apprenticeship, while not flawless in any respect, teaches you the basics, provides experience and takes you through a process of learning which, although it may not be sexy, provides you with the skills that will make you a good practitioner.

There’s nothing wrong with always striving to grow and get more responsibility, but a strong grasp of the basics must be a given.  And guess what? You have to graft for the basics. As the old saying goes, what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.

Of course the dot com boom accentuated this process because some people jumped jobs for better positions rather than doing it the hard way. They still don’t have the basics.

This opinion piece was prompted by a new book, called “The Devil Wears Prada”. Author Lauren Weiberger has written a fictional novel based on her year as assistant to Vogue editor Anna Wintour.  The book pulls no fictional punches and attempts to skewer the fictional editor.

Kate Betts, who herself worked at Vogue, reviews the book in the New York Times and I can’t help but agree with her opinion on the book:

“Having worked at Vogue myself for eight years and having been mentored by Anna Wintour, I have to say Weisberger could have learned a few things in the year she sold her soul to the devil of fashion for $32,500. She had a ringside seat at one of the great editorial franchises in a business that exerts an enormous influence over women, but she seems to have understood almost nothing about the isolation and pressure of the job her boss was doing.”

You can’t barter, buy or take a loan of experience.  You can only live it. What you might consider a pain in the butt, might actually stand to you in a difficult situation at a later date.  We all want to grow up fast, but make sure you are taking the right short cuts. That’s all.

Link provided by the ever excellent AdRants. Does this make sense to anyone or am I being an old-fogey (before my time)?

Written by Tom Murphy

April 15, 2003 at 5:46 pm

Posted in General

Baghdad Bob and the power of public relations

Whatever your views of the war in Iraq, you had to be amused by Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the Iraqi PRO (for use of a better term), who provided the ultimate showcase of how not to communicate with the public in his final days in office.

The press conference where he declared that  “there are no American infidels in Baghdad” even though US tanks were surrounding the building in which he was giving the press briefing, gets full marks for perseverence but no marks for style, content or delivery.

It seems that  Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf (a.k.a Comical Ali or Baghdad Bob – depending on what you read) has caught the imagination of the Internet.  There are a growing number of articles about him, specific fan websites and you can even buy your own commemorative t-shirt.

Of course as we all know when the PR person becomes the story something has gone horribly wrong….

RELATED LINKS: Time | Geek.comCNN | The Post and Courier | CBS News | Globe and Mail | York Daily Record | News24 | Herald Tribune |

Written by Tom Murphy

April 15, 2003 at 10:00 am

Posted in General