Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for June 2003

Online reputation management and the role of PR

Few with argue with the statement that Public Relations is responsible for managing corporate reputation. That’s common sense and it’s accepted by 99% of our marketing brethren.

However, when we move online, who looks after online reputation management?

You see, this is where the problem starts. 

Our profession is the natural owner of online reputation management.  No other marketing discipline has the experience or skills to manage reputation online.  It’s part of the PR toolset.  But that doesn’t stop them trying. And guess what? We’re not exactly making it difficult for them.

There’s an interesting article in the New York Times“More Companies Pay Heed to Their ‘Word of Mouse’ Reputation”, which looks at the growing need for organizations to address the management of their reputation online. 

Now PR practitioners (and dear regular reader I know you are sick of hearing this) have been slow to embrace the brave new world of online PR.  We talk about it, but we don’t think about it.

There’s a marketing landgrab going on out there and if you don’t get your skates on it’ll all be gone before you click on it.  The marketing disciplines are all laying claim to everything from search engine optimization to online customer relations.

If you think I am over reacting take a look at this quote from the normally excellent MarketingFix blog:

“As someone who loves to make sweeping generalisations, here’s one for you – The worst people at creating online buzz are PR companies – they just don’t appear to appreciate that online is a very different environment to offline. Act like a PR person and you will be ignored.”

This is the reality.  The traditional marketing mix is under a little bit of pressure.  Check out this quote from the New York Times piece:

“The potential financial implications of online reputations are substantial. “The more consumers come to trust the opinions posted on online forums, the less effective traditional advertising will become in influencing consumer behavior,” Mr. Dellarocas said.”

So as the pressure for new business areas grows, our marketing cohorts are casting their beady eyes onto the unclaimed online environment. The sad thing is that MarketingFix has a point. We haven’t addressed these areas. So let’s make today, the first day that we reclaim online reputation management for Public Relations.

Now don’t get depressed! The online environment has the potential to create more opportunities for PR than ever before.  Please do not forget that you already have the majority of skills required to manage online reputation.  You just need to understand the differences between how people behave online and off-line.

If you don’t start understanding how to work online, someone else will. Get on it.

Written by Tom Murphy

June 24, 2003 at 9:02 am

Posted in General

Want to win some free PR?

Last August PR services were auctioned on eBay and now a UK-based firm is offering UK start-ups an opportunity to win two months free PR.

Clever new business idea but poor execution, because when you visit Chambers & Co. [FLASH warning] there’s no mention of the competition on their website – Doh! and they have also been added to the Flash Hall of Shame.

Written by Tom Murphy

June 24, 2003 at 8:15 am

Posted in General

I told you this Public Relations stuff works…

Test & Measurement World carried out
a survey of their readers to find out how
their readers found websites and the
features they liked on vendor websites.

The number one tactic that drove their readers 
to a given website was a press article (ding ding!). 

Interestingly the number two driver was search engines. 

I don’t think it takes a degree in engineering to understand that every single PR practitioner should be sharpening their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expertise.

Thanks to the B2BBlog for the link!


Written by Tom Murphy

June 24, 2003 at 7:48 am

Posted in General

Misc Links…

Some interesting links to keep you occupied!

 Dave Pollard takes a look at blogs and how they apply to Malcolm Gladwell’s popular book, The Tipping Point.

 SmartBiz on how PR is a long term project.

 Baseline takes a look at the technology analyst industry.

Written by Tom Murphy

June 20, 2003 at 4:10 pm

Posted in General

Corporate Blogging Policy

The news that Microsoft is formally trying to get it’s arms around blogging both in terms of the implications and the opportunities, has spawned some interesting discussion.

There’s no question that as a communicator, weblogs do raise some issues.  There have been some attempts at putting together guidelines that can clarify a corporate policy for blogs. most notably Ray Ozzie at Grove created these guidelines.

Personally I believe that blog policies should be coupled with internal e-mail guidelines (I am assuming you have e-mail guidelines!) that outline acceptable usage and behavior on e-mail. A common sense approach that incorporates real legal concerns, is probably the best means of managing blogs. 

Jim Horton rightly points out that because some blogs will be written outside work hours they are less subject to legal restrictions. However, a policy should still be in place. Here’s an interesting question for you: Do you know if any of your employees have blogs?

As a first step take a look at Ray Ozzie’s guidelines.  Weblogs do present some great opportunities for building personality and thought leadership for your company, but as with all opportunities there are threats – innocent or otherwise.

Other interesting reading:

Written by Tom Murphy

June 19, 2003 at 7:45 am

Posted in General

How will large companies manage employees' blogs?

Here’s an interesting look at how Microsoft is responding to the growing number of employees who are blogging.

Written by Tom Murphy

June 18, 2003 at 1:40 pm

Posted in General

Plain press release writing…a forgotten art

Yesterday I happened upon an article in UK ‘zine written by PR consultant Katy Howell dealing with the issue of buzzword bingo in press releases.

Now, like me, I am sure you have read many articles on how we should try and put some thought into our vocabulary when writing press releases. We even have new web sites like Corporate Babble keeping a vigilant eye on offenders.

Personally I think it’s worthwhile to think about our use of language in written communications.

Then by coincidence yesterday, my moose tickling colleague Darren Barefoot came across

“Bullfighter” a software utility created by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu that sits inside Microsoft Word (Windows 2000 or XP only and it doesn’t work on the Mac) and identifies potential bull words and also analyses your writing for clarity.

It’s PR Opinions recommended!

Written by Tom Murphy

June 18, 2003 at 8:43 am

Posted in General

They build you up and then…

BusinessWeek has a feature on Google and raises issues around Google’s page ranking and privacy policies amongst other things.  At least the piece is balanced.

Google is the #1 search engine because it does what it’s meant to, quickly and easily. The pay-off for Google is that the company is already making strong profits and continues to grow globally.

Of course being #1 or the most popular, always means the detractors are only around the next bend. I guess we’d call that a rich man’s problem!

Written by Tom Murphy

June 17, 2003 at 1:37 pm

Posted in General

Some tactical PR tips from a master…

The Wall Street Journal has a fantastic profile on an amatuer self publicist with an amazing success rate.

Greg Packer hails from Long Island, he is a highway maintenance worker and has been quoted by the Associated Press, The New York TimesNew York Post and the UK Times to name but a few. The topics have varied from St. Patrick’s Day to Joe Millionaire to Hilary Clinton, whatever the subject he’ll give his opinions.

There isn’t much about which he won’t opine but there are some rules. “I’m not going to talk about the Mets in Yankee Stadium,” Mr. Packer says. “That would be a total disrespect.”

It’s a fascinating piece.


Written by Tom Murphy

June 17, 2003 at 10:34 am

Posted in General

New PR weblog… Indianapolis revisited…

 PR firm, Hecht & Company have created a new PR weblog called PR Machine.

 Further to last Monday’s story on how Indianapolis had retained a New York firm to build the city’s profile – and the dismay from local practitioners – the Mayor has attempted to pour oil on the choppy waters.

Written by Tom Murphy

June 16, 2003 at 9:49 am

Posted in General