Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for October 2003

Spam an alternative solution

Spam is an increasing problem for business today.

E-mail is a vital tool for most business people.  Although it has its downsides and it is regularly abused, e-mail still provides a fast and easy means of communication and a vital tool for sharing information.

I don’t know about you, but Spam is still on the rise, I am now getting anywhere from 200 to 400 spams a day.  It’s taking over my mornings at this stage.

I’ve tried a whole range of different anti-spam products but to be honest all of them have significant flaws.  Increasingly I am seeing people using these services where they respond to your e-mail with an automated response that asks you to click on a link to verify that you are an authentic sender, but as a PR person I don’t think making it harder for journalists to contact you makes any sense whatsoever.  It’s for that reason I am opposed to any anti-spam solution that blocks spam at your mail server – how do you know if a legitimate e-mail has been bounced?

So my new solution is Reverse-Spam.  This is where rather than trying to extricate spam from your inbox, you extricate the good e-mail, leaving the spam in your inbox.

It’s simple when a real relevant e-mail message pops into your inbox you apply a rule that moves it to a dedicated folder.  Anything left in your inbox is spam and can be deleted.  At the current rate of Spam growth I assume that for most people spam messages far outnumber legitimate e-mail. Of course this approach also gets around the problem of you adding senders to your spam list by accident.

Since I thought of this idea, a quick search on Google has revealed this is not a new idea at all. I’ll let you know how it goes, though the quote from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War which accompanies that last link sums it up nicely:

“Subduing other’s military without battle is the most skillful.”  

Postscript: There is a God, California have just fined a spammer $2 million. I feel the stress slipping away….

Written by Tom Murphy

October 27, 2003 at 11:28 am

Posted in General

PR and Industry Analyst Relations

In the technology business, industry analysts play a very important role in the definition of new markets and helping end-user organizations understand new technology.

Analysts represent a vital audience for every technology firm, and Technology PR people spend a large slab of time communicating with them.

Elizabeth Albrycht has been discussing some of the difficulties involved in working with analyst firms.  She details the difficulty in getting to talk to analysts through the often byzantine scheduling process.  The tight economy has of course exacerbated the problem, every briefing request is a potential sales lead and the Analyst sales people are all over it like a rash.

The tougher question is the divide between church and state.  There’s a new generation of small boutique analyst firms emerging, who focus on a tight industry segment and can quickly build a reputation as an expert on a given area.  Some of these firms are about as ethical as Al Capone.

One recently told me that, to be included in their reports, discussions with the media etc. we had to take a full subscription to their service.  End of story.  Needless to say we refused, blackmail is not something I’ll countenance.  Furthermore this firm has a wide variety of competitiors who are just as focused and don’t have the “advetorial” policy. I’ll be working with them thank you very much.

One thing that can ease the pain of Analyst Relations is personal relationships with given analysts, which can help you sometimes to side-step the sales process, but it’s not easy.

Written by Tom Murphy

October 24, 2003 at 9:58 am

Posted in General

Ok so PR blogger Jeremy Pepper is walking the walk so to speak, and is pitching bloggers on behalf of a new client of his: fe77 Software who are marketing a service for PR practitioners where they will host your press room online and also provide a range of content management tools.&nbsp

Written by Tom Murphy

October 24, 2003 at 8:59 am

Posted in General

Maybe we're defining PR incorrectly?

When I searched for a definition of Public Relations I found the following description:

The art or science of establishing and promoting a favorable relationship with the public.

As broad stroke definitions go, it’s not bad.  I’d probably add managing an individual’s or organization’s communication with the public.

The Internet opens a range of opportunities for our profession – and a range of challenges.  The one thing the Internet does is remove the elements of security and secrecy that may have once been a part of our daily lives.  Our control over information is dissolving and we must adapt.

The other change the Internet brings is that is opens your communication to a far wider audience than ever before.  Whereas in the past you might have screwed up with a pitch and annoyed a journalist, it pretty much stopped there.

Today, screw up and there’s no guarantee that your pitch will not end up being the joke du jour on media websites. That is a sobering thought and one that should guide you when you’re putting together a pitch. Of course sometimes you’ll be a victim even if it’s not warranted.  Welcome to 2003.

What staggers me is “PR” people who go out of their way to look ridiculous and set themselves and their employer/client up for online crucifiction.

In the past we’ve covered these false posters to popular message boards extolling the virtue of some client or other, using slang and trying to pose as a regular visitor when it’s clear they’re not.  Well it seems these intelligent “Online PR” professionals are now turning their magnificent efforts to weblogs comments.

You can spot them easy enough.  There’s a discussion on watches for example, and there in the comments under the posting someone writes:

 “Hey, you should try out the XCT500 from those great guys over at Acme, it includes feature blah. feature blah, costs under $7,500 and if you sign-up at their website they will sell it to you for $4,000.  I have been using the XCT500 for over six months and I can tell you it is singularly the leading, digital, outdoor, multi-sport time device out there. Check it out at http: //www.acmetimedevices.cs”

You see that’s not PR ladies and gentlemen.  There is no relationship being created, managed or enhanced by this activity.  This is not creating dialogue. This is comment spam.

Jeremy Pepper covers this today and points to Dan Gillmor’s plea to PR people to behave on his weblog. Steve Outing at Poynter follows up with his views on the matter:

“The rules are simple enough: Be on topic when you post a PR pitch, and keep it short and useful to the audience.”

I’d go further than Steve.  It is unethical PR practice to be posing as someone you are not. 

If your contribution to the topic is relevant then you should declare your interest up front and center.  If you don’t think posting that information is appropriate then your views (or spam) are not appropriate either.

We are the masters of creating and managing communication. You are not in a Bond movie, you are not a trained practitioner of industrial espionage. If you want to create long-standing, meaningful and profitable relationships be straight about your angle.

The muppets who contine to post as “consumers” do you no favors. Oh and they can track your IP address.  There’s no place to hide.

Written by Tom Murphy

October 22, 2003 at 10:05 am

Posted in General

It's Fall, let's re-examine an old Chestnut

MarketingProfs latest missive includes an opinion piece on the death of advertising written by Harry Hoover.  In effect it’s a redux on the Ries’ book from last year.

“I�ve been rereading The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR by Al and Laura Ries. It is their book that has moved me from having a mere suspicion of advertising�s demise as a brand builder to total conviction that it is dead.”

I posted my thoughts on this premise and the book last October, but I’ll post a quick recap to save you clicking.

Marketing is a multi-dimensional discipline and good marketing is hard.

The reason we have a whole host of professions undertaking marketing campaigns is that for the majority of organizations, (there are always exceptions) success is based on successful implementation of multiple campaigns such as PR, Advertising, Direct Marketing etc.

In my experience no one discipline can meet the business goals of the majority of firms. This is where the idea that Advertising in all it’s varieties is dead, fails.  It’s not. The marketing mix may change but advertising is going nowhere folks, get over it.

Using as an example of how advertising fails is ridiculous.  Here’s why.

Most of those failed dot coms also spent extraordinary amounts of money on Public Relations. So is PR dead? No.

A good ethical company, with good products, a focus on customer service, a target market and smart marketing will succeed.  Get one of those elements wrong and you could be in trouble.

I’m delighted PR’s influence continues to grow, but let’s be realistic.


Written by Tom Murphy

October 21, 2003 at 12:08 pm

Posted in General

Some PR news from around the web

 The Council for Excellence in Government has released a study [PDF] analyzing how US Government business and issues are covered in the media. It was published in July but I hadn’t seen it before and it has some fascinating findings.  How about this for a start, since 1981, stories concerning Federal government have fallen by 31 percent on TV and 12 percent in the national print media.

 PR Week profiles some high powered Public Relations professionals this week.

 PR Watch is covered by fellow self appointed watchdog In these Times.


Going through my web logs this week I noticed two referrals to PR Opinions followed a Google search for “PR Bunnies“… what’s that all about?

Written by Tom Murphy

October 21, 2003 at 8:46 am

Posted in General

Blog Relations: the Elevator Pitch

Kevin Dugan shares his Elevator Pitch on blogging and PR.

Written by Tom Murphy

October 21, 2003 at 8:25 am

Posted in General