Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for September 2003

Oh you're meta tagging now…

I was recently discussing with a colleague the increasing popularity of company spokespeople overloading their statements with positioning.

Here’s a made up example:

“We look forward to extending ACME’s leadership in providing fresh, cost-effective, products to consumers of hamburgers, producers of sandwiches and companies who sometimes purchase food stuffs for meetings.  We’ll deliver those products in a timely manner, where they want them, when they want them, indoors or even outdoors.”

The quote is clearly mind-numbing. Rather than focus on a clear message it focuses on trying to get a firm in as many market segments as possible and ends up losing the point.

I call this meta tagging. Meta Tags are the pieces of text in your webpage that describe what your site does.  Most people put a whole range of terms in there in an effort to get high rankings from the search engines.

[Note: Meta Tags are hidden from browsers (you can see them in Internet Explorer by clicking on “View” and then “Source”]

I think Sun’s Meta tags are a good example:

<title> Sun Microsystems </title>
<meta name=”keywords” content=”sun microsystems, sun, java, java computing, solaris, sparc, unix, jini, computer systems, server, mission critical, RAS, high availability, cluster, workgroup server, desktop, workstation, storage, backup solutions, network computer, network computing, hardware, software, service, consulting, support, training, compiler, jdk, technical computing, scientific computing, high performance, enterprise computing, staroffice, starportal, sun ray”>
<meta name=”description” content=”Sun Microsystems, Inc. The Network Is The Computer[tm].”>

So next time you hear your spokesperson come out with something similar, tell them to stop “meta-tagging”.

Written by Tom Murphy

September 30, 2003 at 1:24 pm

Posted in General


 Dot Journalism has an interview with editor Tracy Corrigan.

 Media Bistro has an excerpt from a book that’s bound to be a huge seller during the holidays – “Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq.” [Link courtesy of Tom Mangan]

 A good turn deserves another someone once told me.  I think. Well in that spirit I’m happy to highlight Tech PR firm Shift Communications who are providing “pro bono” PR services to Women in Technology International an organization focused on helping women in the technology industry to connect. I’m not sure why they didn’t announce it as “Free” but if you’d like more information the locus delicti is here.


Written by Tom Murphy

September 30, 2003 at 1:04 pm

Posted in General

Good news for all the techie PRs

All previously reported, Red Herring is back, online anyway.  Hurrah for that. It would be interesting maybe even ironic if Red Herring led the upturn in this economy.  From talking with a wide variety of people it seems there’s a lot more optimism about.  Let’s not go any further than that!

Written by Tom Murphy

September 29, 2003 at 7:26 am

Posted in General

Posting PR information online…

Richard Bailey and Jeremy Pepper have been writing about the use of Adobe Acrobat documents for online press rooms.

Here’s some additional thoughts on information formats online.


All press release posted on your website should use plain old HTML.  This means they can be read by anyone with a browser, and they can be easily copied and pasted into other documents.  Also remember to include your media contact details with every release. There�s a disturbing practice of removing PR contact details from posted press releases, but I think you should make it as easy as possible for a journalist to contact you so include those details.

Adobe Acrobat

While your press releases should be posted as HTML, it can be useful to also (not instead of) provide them in Acrobat format.  Why?  Well often HTML pages don�t print very well, so providing them in Acrobat solves that problem.

Microsoft Word

Never, ever publish press materials (or any other materials) as Microsoft Word documents.  There�s two primary reasons for this.  Firstly Word documents can contain viruses, but more importantly there are many documented cases of internal comments and changes being included, unbeknownst to the creator, in a published Word document. Don�t do it.

Plain Text

Sending press releases by e-mail should be done in plain text, end of story.  Save your funny fonts and your bright colors for children.


For the love of God, Jehova etc. do not send press releases in e-mail as attachments.  No matter how many journalists flag this as a pet peeve, people still do it. Break the chain.

Written by Tom Murphy

September 26, 2003 at 12:01 pm

Posted in General

The blossoming on PR information online..

One of the major reason behind why I started this blog eighteen months ago was the dearth of good, relevant and regular PR-related content online.  As all the PR trade magazines moved to a subscription model, more PR content disapeared.

This blog was simply to be a kind of respository for PR information, with a few opinions thrown in.

In the intervening period we have seen an explosion in PR blogs.  Reading the usual suspects this morning it struck me that right now we have loads of intelligent PR people, writing interesting views and pointing to interesting content.

It’s fantastic that all this content, across most verticals or disciplines, from education to technology and journalism, is now available in your browser and in some cases your RSS reader. It’s also great the see all the various writers cross-referencing and discussing many of the issues.

Of course there’s always room for more, so why don’t you start a blog?

Anyhow here, in no particular order is some of the more interesting discussions taking place at the moment across PR blogland.

 G2B Group is looking at  the state of modern television broadcasting.

 Kevin Dugan covers RSS and the media (Kevin pay the $10!)

 Jim Horton writes up an BRAve PR stunt in Michigan <groan>

 PR Machine evaluates the importance of your CEO

 The Minnesota PR Blog covers Subway’s new advertising and an event in October offering PR people in Minnesota some insight into the local political process

 The ever vigilent PR Studies is covering effective press rooms

 Pop! Public Relations has an interesting post on a new RSS service for PR people and the move from large to small agencies – don’t get me started on that one 🙂 

 MediaMap as always have a load of news on media and PR moves

 PR Bop covers the 78-year old drag racer

 Jenane Sessum is (ahem) covering a Ketchum story!

 As predicted, PR Fuel, is tearing along, covering Zoos, Ketchum, Waggener Edstrom and Microsoft.

 Elizabeth Albrycht is looking at PR e-mail and expect some more dialog with Agency Analytics!

Written by Tom Murphy

September 26, 2003 at 10:02 am

Posted in General

Weblogs Inc.

There’s a new weblog business venture afoot.  It’s called Weblogs Inc. and it’s focused on creating niche weblogs.

It seems to be pushing an idea of building a single portal that aggregates relevant blogs in a whole range of industries, then selling Adwords type ads on those blogs to pay the rent.

They are currently looking for bloggers with experience of media, technology, business and life sciences.

Thanks for my favorite Moose Tickler for the link.

Written by Tom Murphy

September 25, 2003 at 8:21 am

Posted in General

Sobering Story

USA Today published a very interesting story about a former Wall St. Reporter, Les Gapay who was downsized and now lives in his pick-up, camping in various national parks around the West coast as he looks for work. It’s worth a read.

Tom Mangan did some research and it seems Gapay left the Wall St. Journal in the late 1970’s to become a Cherry Farmer. In fact the only mention of the Wall St. Journal in the story is the headline.  In fairness to Gapay he doesn’t write about the Journal.

Even with that correction, it remains a harsh reminder of the realities of a downturn.

USA Today link courtesy of Mitch Wagner.

Written by Tom Murphy

September 25, 2003 at 8:15 am

Posted in General

Commentary of Microsoft's latest PR onslaught

Microsoft is a fantastic case study on the power of effectively managed and implemented Public Relations.  Their business was built on PR.

I did some work for Microsoft outside North America, way back in the sands of time, and I have never, in twelve years of high tech PR, seen any company with the systems and processes Microsoft have to keep their PR machine moving.

However our world moves in cycles and according to Jon Oltstik who writes in CNET, Microsoft’s latest PR blitz around security will not be enough to stop the damage. He argues that what’s required is less PR and more engineering effort. And I find myself agreeing with him.

For every PR win Microsoft achieves around security they will lose any gained ground once the next vunerability appears. It’s a losing strategy until the products match the rhetoric. PR can’t fix what is clearly broken.

“Money won�t win this war. Nor will additional security tools or yet another PR blitz. People are already voting with their pocketbooks buying more and more Linux–and security is a big reason why.”

Link courtesy of G2B Group blog

Written by Tom Murphy

September 25, 2003 at 8:03 am

Posted in General

New PR blog and a few questions for Agency Analytics

Another PR blogger has entered the fray. Elizabeth Albrycht has launched the CorporatePR blog.

Among her most recent posts she tackles the Agency Analytics post from last week.  As a small agency owner, Elizabeth has some interesting views on the proposition and her questions seem to reinforce my view that for “Agency Measurement” to be a success you have to engage with the Agencies.

“Corporations today are rightly skeptical of PR agency performance, given the bad, sometimes downright unethical practices that occured during the tech boom. Demanding accountability and performance measurement is their right. However, as many many academics, practioners and others have written about PR — it is inherently difficult to measure. And I fail to see how timesheeting and billing practices are the key to success here. As an agency owner, I would demand to know the details of the methodology before I let any of their auditors muck about.”

Written by Tom Murphy

September 25, 2003 at 7:54 am

Posted in General

The world's most popular PR blog?

Ben Silverman, New York Post columnist, famed author of DotComScoop which documented the height of the Internet boom, and the mind behind the PR Fuel newsletter has launched a PR Fuel blog.

Given the huge readership of PR Fuel, I think it’s safe to say this blog will reach out to a whole new audience of PR readers.

Best of luck with it!

Written by Tom Murphy

September 24, 2003 at 7:53 am

Posted in General