Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for September 2003

Advertising moves back to the future…

As most of you will know earlier this month a Federal judge threw out the case taken against McDonalds by a group of obese people.

I was delighted. It’s about time people took responsibility for their actions.

McDonalds are in trouble however.  People are catching on (after fifty years) that while the food is tasty and fast, it’s probably not the healthy option.

So McDonalds are now providing healthy options. Another good thing.

But my rant this morning centers on their advertising. Built around the ridiculous tag-line “i’m lovin’ it”, their new TV ads show loads of slim, athletic people jumping around “lovin'” McDonalds.

Please. Do McDonalds really think we are that stupid, that a series of images of beautiful young things eating McDonalds will all make us go “oh yeah, I’m cool, I’m fit, I’ll eat in McDonalds”.

What is this, a move back to the 1950’s? No wonder their market share is slipping.

In protest at these adverts I am providing a link to the most famed anti-McDonalds site, McSpotlight. That’s my little protest.

Written by Tom Murphy

September 24, 2003 at 7:34 am

Posted in General

PR and Journalism working together or apart?

Richard Bailey’s excellent PR Studies blog has been tracking the discussion around Patrick Weever’s anti-spin campaign.

Earlier this month Patrick wrote in the UK Observer, an interesting piece on the danger of PR and Journalism education intermingling – with particular reference to the University of Sunderland.

Last Sunday there was an interesting response from Chris Rushton, head of journalism and PR at the University, who argues that journalists need to understand PR.

“Now, it is virtually impossible to write a story for publication without having to cross swords with a public relations executive, communications manager, external relations officer, etc – often several, each representing a different interest.”

Written by Tom Murphy

September 23, 2003 at 9:08 am

Posted in General

Measuring your PR agency… a response

Following my post last week on Agency Analytics, their CEO Michael Young was in touch to respond to some of my points.

In reply to my comment:

�While this offering is interesting, in that it’s in my knowledge unique, I’m not sure of the value proposition here.  My feeling is that your agency is measured by the client’s level of satisfaction with the agency’s work, advice and ultimately outcomes. I’m not sure where these guys fit in to the process.�

Michael writes:

“Yes, we are unique; I�m the first poacher to turn gamekeeper.  Who better to show clients what is really going on inside their agency.

Our radical approach to measurement does beget the question about value proposition, but try this on for size.   Large agencies operate on a productivity model better suited for the 1950s (probably the early Industrial Age), than the early 21st century, which is exacerbated by high turnover, poor training, shoddy systems and non-existent process control.  

The net effect is that client�s budgets are burnt up at a harsh and needless clip.  Agency Analytics helps clients recover and recapture the lost or hidden value in their PR spend, which exceeds 20 percent in most cases and sometimes much more�it�s a pretty compelling value proposition when clients hear it.  Agencies do a good job of papering over their inefficiencies but, clients know it, agencies know it.  It�s just that no one has cracked the code �til now

You�re right the old way to measure the agency was based on client satisfaction and quality of work and outcomes and all that other stuff, which is still important, but every client is looking to save money and improve productivity, we just give them the tools to do it objectively.  If you want to see a CFO high-five his Communication of VP, show him how much more his money bought this quarter than last.” 

Anyone want to share their thoughts on this? 

I personally think that Agency Analytics need to get out and talk with agency owners, because it does seem (from their perspective) like all stick and no carrot!

I am sure there are some agency readers and/or freelancers with pertinent thoughts….

Written by Tom Murphy

September 23, 2003 at 7:41 am

Posted in General

Is the cure worse than the disease?

Sometime it is.

E-mail has some well documented issues.

Foremost on my e-mail hates list are spam, cc politics and laziness.

But do we want to go back to the time before E-mail?

Not me. For all it’s problems, and for all the potential of RSS as a publishing medium, E-mail remains an effective tool for what it offers.

Yes it promotes laziness.  Yes people surreptitously delegate using e-mail. Yes corporations substitute good communication for e-mail.  But does that make it bad?  No.  IMHO. 

E-mail makes it easy to share, store and find information.

News that UK company, Phones 4U has banned all internal e-mail is certainly an interesting departure.

The company’s CEO commented that:

“It’s a very effective tool if used properly…. While I do believe that e-mail in general is the absolute cancer of British business, I only believe that because of the misuse of it.”

I think he has a point, and he believes his staff will save three hours a day.  But banning all internal e-mail?

When I think back to the days before e-mail I remember a lot of time being wasted in unnecessary meetings and on unneccessary phone calls.  Certainly in my case, I estimate I am doing at least fifty percent more per day than in the days before e-mail – even with spam and lazy e-mail.

There is of course a case for balance. 

Phone, face-to-face contact, meetings, bulletin boards and Intranets are all essential, but e-mail does help information move around an organization and reduces the time that it takes to achieve many tasks.

I certainly wouldn’t like to live in an organization where everything had to be conducted through the phone or face-to-face. 

Written by Tom Murphy

September 22, 2003 at 10:43 am

Posted in General

Litigation PR Dairy Style…

Well I recently ranted on how large organizations are substituting good communications policy for strong arm legal tactics.

No sooner had my rant about the RIAA and SCO settled down than another case appears.

In a story on Wired we hear that Monsanto is suing Oakhurst Dairy because it pledges on its milk labels that their milk doesn’t use artificial hormones.

Yes you read that correctly.  Here is a quote from the Wired story:

Oakhurst Dairy in Maine labels its milk: “Our farmer’s pledge: no artificial hormones.” Monsanto’s lawsuit says the label implies Oakhurst’s milk is somehow better than milk from cows treated with rBST, and that unfairly harms Monsanto’s business.”

Huh? It doesn’t slag off hormones directly, it certainly doesn’t slag off Monsanto directly or indirectly. But we’re suing?

What’s happened to competition? What’s next?

Will US Sugar begin suing sugar-free alternatives?  Will meat producers start suing vegetarian food outlets?


[Link courtesy of the I-PR discussion list]

Written by Tom Murphy

September 18, 2003 at 5:23 pm

Posted in General

RSS for marketers

Slow news day…..

ClickZ has a column on how marketers can use RSS.

“Online publishers have swarmed to RSS. It’s a medium marketers cannot ignore. Can you move 100 percent of your e-mail list to RSS overnight? No. But if you are concerned about false positives, are serious about opt-in, and have content your customers or prospects want, take a look at RSS. The barriers to entry are low, and the potential return is high.”

Written by Tom Murphy

September 18, 2003 at 5:09 pm

Posted in General

Tackling the misunderstanding of PR

PR Week has a feature online this week on defending the PR business against some of the more common misconceptions.

“I take a lot of pride in this profession,” says Dave Samson, VP of international PR for Oracle. “I get frustrated when I see tired, worn-out ideas of what PR is.” Samson adds that the responsibility for banishing negative perceptions belongs to those actively engaged in the industry. “We have an obligation to change the view of our profession. More and more, there are people that really get it rising to the senior roles inside agencies and corporations.”

Written by Tom Murphy

September 17, 2003 at 1:11 pm

Posted in General

Measuring your PR agency

We recently looked at the thorny issue of PR measurement.

Today I came across an interesting announcement from a firm called Agency Analytics [Partial FLASH warning].

“The firm announced the first set of services and tools designed to help organizations measure, analyze and optimize the performance of their public relations agency partners. The service suite, called Agency Performance Management (APM), is a unique methodology for auditing, scorecarding and benchmarking PR agency performance, and can help companies increase program yields by 20 to 40 percent.”

So in essence their raison d’etre is to measure the performance of the PR company as distinct from solely measuring the program results.  The services they offer include:

  • Auditing your existing agency
  • Helping to hire a new agency
  • Get your new agency up and running
  • Measure them over time

Click for larger image

While this offering is interesting, in that it’s in my knowledge unique, I’m not sure of the value proposition here.  My feeling is that your agency is measured by the client’s level of satisfaction with the agency’s work, advice and ultimately outcomes. I’m not sure where these guys fit in to the process.

After all, if you are going to measure your PR programs, then measure your agency, who will measure the firm measuring your agency?

I’d be interested in your views on this.

Interestingly under the link for “Management Team” there’s a vague paragraph but no names, biographies or information.  They did announce the appointment of Michael Young formerly of Porter Novelli, Ketchum and Tech Image as CEO – a case of poacher turned gamekeeper eh?

Written by Tom Murphy

September 17, 2003 at 9:10 am

Posted in General

An insight into the dedicated editor of fashion

Fashion PR isn’t really my area of expertise, this is very apparent to anyone who knows me!

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting Q&A with arguably the most influential editor-in-chief in the fashion world, Anne Wintour of Vogue.

Written by Tom Murphy

September 17, 2003 at 8:42 am

Posted in General

Blog Relations: Communicating with your audience

There are two sides to the blog conundrum for today’s PR professional.

First of all there’s a whole new market of influencers whom, as we’ve said here many times, it makes sense for PR professionals to include in any outreach program.

Secondly blogs provide organizations with a cheap yet effective means of establishing dialogue with their audience.  Sharing from the fountain of the Cluetrain, organizations can show the human side of their firm through the blog medium – as well as helping to promote their expertise etc.

The Boston Herald has a story on this very subject using Novidian‘s corporate weblog as an example.

Written by Tom Murphy

September 17, 2003 at 7:57 am

Posted in General