Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for August 2003

The winners of US media-based reputation…

Apologies that postings have continued to be slow.  The continuing volume of virus e-mails has put a lot of strain on working on the road, so things should return to normal on Monday.

Earlier in the week, Marc Snyder was in touch regarding Delahaye’s Media Reputation Index. 

The latest research (April-June) shows that Disney has overtaken Microsoft as the company with the best media reputation.

Media Reputation Index – Top Ten Companies

1.  The Walt Disney Company
2.  Microsoft
3.  Intel
4.  Wal-Mart
5.  General Motors
6.  IBM
7.  Home Depot
8.  Coca-Cola
9.  Bank of America
10. AOL Time Warner

Read more details here.

Written by Tom Murphy

August 29, 2003 at 3:36 pm

Posted in General

Are you talking to me?

Lou Hoffman, founder of the Hoffman Agency and a regular writer on matters PR, has written a great feature on those phrases which freeze the blood of the most hardened agency practitioner.

I’m sure you’ve all heard many of them in the course of your professional life, but it’s an enjoyable rant.

Written by Tom Murphy

August 29, 2003 at 2:47 pm

Posted in General

Watching them watching us, watching them…

Postings have been a little sparse of late as I am currently travelling to a range of interesting places and meeting a range of interesting people.

However, back to business.

It’s interesting to see how the media percieve PR people and the UK Guardian (whom the rumor mill has suggested are looking at launching a US version of the newspaper to follow up on the popularity of their Gulf War II coverage) has a piece by Paul Carr,  the editor of UK site, The Friday Thing, about how music companies don’t really get the online medium. It’s a rather sad account of “viral marketing” actually.

I was also interested to see that the spate of corporate crises over the past twenty four months is encouraging journalists to adopt some of the same PR tactics that we recommend in a crisis.  Bill Breen in this month’s Fast Company pens a mea culpa in follow up to a glowing review of EDS a couple of years ago that has turned out rather differently.

Like any good PR pro, Bill gets all the bad news out on his own terms.  It reads very well.

“Our rather optimistic account elicited a sharp observation from my dad.  As EDS’s stock swooned, my father joked that he was going to start shorting my articles.  That once really hurt.”

Written by Tom Murphy

August 27, 2003 at 3:48 am

Posted in General

The flame war that isn't…

As you might have read in the comments to my earlier posting, about his anti-PR rant on the I-Blog discussion list, Rick Bruner has posted a long and detailed rebuttal.

He’s expecting a flame war, but I can’t give him one. Here’s why.

I still think his posting to the I-Blog list was insulting.  He calls it “irony” I don’t. I also have a major problem with Rick’s use of rash generalizations to carry his argument, e.g.:

“Sure, a handful of PR visionaries are blogging to date, but so far as I can see, they’re all blogging about PR. They’re not actually blogging for PR. IDC is using RSS to syndicate its press releases. But beyond that? “

There are loads of companies delivering news feeds over RSS, IDC is only a recent example and there are also a large number of examples of PR driven weblogs.  I don’t do a lot of self-promotion on this blog, but Cape Clear for example, has had exactly this kind of blog for over a year.

However,  Rick’s posting is well written and well reasoned and how ever much I wanted to disagree with it, I found myself nodding in agreement with much of what he wrote.

I agree that we are behind the ball on the Internet in general and blogging in particular.

What his writing does not recognize is that PR people are stepping into the breech. I agree it’s not fast enough, I agree we should own the web, be experts on search engine optimization etc. etc. You can’t argue with any of that. Fair play.

I just wish he’d stop kicking the poor old dog. In the words of my compatriot Oscar Wilde:

“If they have not opened the eyes of the blind, they have at least given great encouragement to the short-sighted, and while their leaders may have all the inexperience of old age, their young men are far too wise to be ever sensible.”

PS: Rick also correctly points out I referenced the wrong Cow in my earlier post, it is of course the Raging Cow, not the Purple Cow.  Seth Godin wouldn’t be a happy camper. But I am sticking to my guns that the Raging Cow incident sucked.

Written by Tom Murphy

August 21, 2003 at 5:02 pm

Posted in General

A salutory tale for any foreign media visiting the United States

Thanks for Niamh who forwarded me this story from Australia’s The Age newspaper about the trials and tribulations of an Australian computer journalist attending a computer conference in Denver.

To sum up, if you’re a journalist attending an event in the United States, make sure you’ve applied for an I-visa.

Written by Tom Murphy

August 21, 2003 at 9:08 am

Posted in General

Why Viruses are a good thing

Well I’m sure if you use e-mail you have been inundated with the latest Virus attack. I think this is the worst one since the “I love you” Virus one a couple of years back.

But there is an upside to these Viruses.  I’ve had e-mail this week (albeit Virus delivered) from friends and colleagues I haven’t talked to in a long long time.  Going through all the Virus e-mail was like a trip down memory lane.

Furthermore, it’s always interesting to see who has you in their address book, very interesting.

I don’t want to sound like a broken record (too late!) but I am amazed at the proportion of these Virus e-mails coming from PR people. I’d say thirty percent of the Virus e-mail I’ve had is from people in PR.

This means that even though e-mail communication is key to our business, we’re still not updating our Virus checkers and more importantly, we’re still keeping our contacts in programs like Outlook where the Virus knows how to find them.

I suggest you all check your Virus software is up to date!

Written by Tom Murphy

August 21, 2003 at 9:05 am

Posted in General

PR People have room temperature IQs…

Up2Speed’s Rick Bruner links to an interesting article in the LA Times about how new technologies such as SMS and Instant Messaging are having a significant (and in many cases uncontrollable) affect on movie revenues.

On related matter, in the latest issue of Up2Speed’s I-Blog newsletter, Rick has yet another cut at “PR people”.  Now it’s a pity because Rick has some good solid advice for PR people pitching blogs, but it’s lost in his insulting rash generalizations. 

How about this beauty:

“With the exception of all my friends who are PR people, I have to say most folks in that profession seem to have room temperature IQs, particularly where it comes to leveraging the opportunities of the Internet to advance their mission.”

Now I haven’t been slow to address the perceived tardiness of our profession to adopt blogs into the PR plan, but I think Rick has stepped a little over the mark here.

I take exception to his comments. 

What, only his friends are clever?  Please, spare me.

I was going to respond on the I-Blog list and then decided the better of it.  But here are some thoughts for you on his post:

  • With any new media there are going to be slip-ups, particularly a media where there are no formal rules.  Every blogger is different, some like pitches, some don’t. It’s not simple and those bloggers who don’t like PR will publicly chastise PR practitioners who try to brief them – we’ve covered this before.
  • There are already a large number of PR people successfully working with blogs, look at Laura Goldberg as just one recent example
  • Our profession isn’t exactly leading the charge, but then again what profession is? Marketing? Please.
  • Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the single largest blogging mistake, namely the “Purple Cow” episode wasn’t PR-driven, in fact it was marketers or viral marketers to be more precise.
  • Blogging is still in its infancy, PR people should be investigating and engaging with bloggers, however, insulting people isn’t going to help anyone

All marketing professions need to get up to speed (‘scuse the pun) on blogging.  A growing number of PR people are doing some great work in the blogosphere, the rest will follow in their own time. I think that time is now, many don’t agree.

By the way, I have to say most folks in that (PR) profession (that I know) seem to have (very high) temperature IQs…

Written by Tom Murphy

August 20, 2003 at 9:55 am

Posted in General

Good Blog Relations some examples

Laura Goldberg of Trylon Communications looks after Public Relations for Business 2.0.  She recently recieved high praise indeed from on how she was pitching them online. It looks like she was putting into practice the same theory she wrote about in her article for the PRSA on blogging.

Kevin Dugan provides some good analysis on the success of her pitch.

Then from proactive blog relations to the benefits of RSS and reading journalist blogs.  Phil Gomes provides a great example of why reading these blogs has immediate benefits for a PR practitioner.

Written by Tom Murphy

August 20, 2003 at 9:30 am

Posted in General

RSS 101 Getting up and running

There’s a lot of RSS-related opinions online this week with impacts for the PR profession, but I’ll get to that later.

Talking with some colleagues recently, it struck me that one of the inhibitors to adoption of RSS by PR practitioners is that people are unsure how to get up and running.

As a result I have put together what I hope will be a useful and easy introduction to getting up and running with RSS, from downloading a news aggregator to subscribing to RSS feeds.

If you aren’t already using RSS, why not take five minutes to find out how to get set up.

RSS 101 – Getting up and running

Feedback is very welcome. Now onto the RSS-related content.

Wired has an interesting piece on RSS and its impact, though I’d like to re-iterate that RSS isn’t going to replace e-mail!

Last, but not least, Dan Gillmor discusses the growing popularity of RSS.

“I wish public-relations people would get with the program, too. If they’d only start creating RSS feeds of releases, journalists and the public at large could see the material they want, and the PR industry would be able to stop blasting huge amounts of e-mail to people whose inboxes are already over-cluttered. Of course, there will continue to be a use for e-mail in PR, but the volume could be cut substantially.”  Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Written by Tom Murphy

August 19, 2003 at 9:30 am

Posted in General

The brand conundrum

Now I know many people will not agree with this posting, but hey you can always add your comment to it!

I have a problem with the commonly abused term “Branding”. 

As far as I am convinced a brand is the sum of a person’s experiences with an organization.

You can’t buy a brand, rather a brand is built over time through working with employees, customers, partners and other third parties.

It’s not about nice colors, it’s about good business practice.

Too often I have seen new CEO’s or VPs of marketing arrive and their first port of call is the company’s “brand”. To me it’s simply re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. If your company is broken, no amount of nice design and guidelines is going to save you.

The Internet start-ups all threw millions of dollars at “building a brand” and they proved for once and for all you can’t buy it.

My advice to any company is focus on your business.  I do agree that a company should have a common look and feel across locations, collaterals etc. but if your business is right your brand will follow.

Dave Jung over at B2Blog forwarded a link to a post on Fast Company’s weblog about Palm’s new “brand”. I think Kevin’s right on the money!

Written by Tom Murphy

August 19, 2003 at 8:55 am

Posted in General