Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for October 2003

Blog block

I have to say I was struggling with blogging today.  Mid-week, loads to do and no one topic jumping out.

Luckily the ever useful MarketingProfs jumped to my rescue.

Barbara Payne has a thoughtful piece on Business blogging, where she looks at the benefits of salespeople writing blogs…

“Last spring, I wrote to all my customers to suggest that it was time for them to start letting at least their salespeople write blogs for their customers and prospects. It sounds radical to many managers, but there�s no denying the power of authentic communication when it comes to building loyalty between people�and clearly your customers are people first.”

This issue also has a media relations primer written by Margie Fisher which provides some common sense advice to newbies..although the more “PR” incidents I hear, the more I think we should all try and remember the basics…

Written by Tom Murphy

October 15, 2003 at 6:00 pm

Posted in General

Pringlish… The PR language

Tom Yager over at Infoworld is offering readers of his blog an opportunity to role play as a technology journalist.

It would be funny if it wasn’t true. I particularly like the fact that the pitch in question has been sent to him twice and cc’d to the Editor in Chief.

Ladies and gentlemen when you next throw back your head and wonder why it is PR people get such a hard time. Don’t wonder.  Understand that there are a lot of unprofessional practitioners out there making your job harder and the media less interested in your call.

UPDATE: Some mandatory web research leads me to believe these are the culprits.

Written by Tom Murphy

October 14, 2003 at 2:07 pm

Posted in General

Office alternatives

For solo practitioners and small firms, the cost of a new release of Microsoft Office at $400-$500 can be daunting.

I’ve been taking a look at the latest version of OpenOffice, version 1.1, and it’s come on in leaps and bounds since the earlier releases. The current version supports Windows and Linux, though Apple users should wait for a new ‘Aqua-compatible’ release in the near future.

It lacks much of the polish and some of the power of MS Office, particularly in some of the more advanced features you may have come to love, but it’s a fine product and will certainly cope with the usual (80%) word processing and spreadsheet tasks.

One additional feature that’s very worthwhile is the ability to create Adobe PDF’s from within your word processor. You simply click on the ‘File’ menu and select ‘Export as PDF’, nice and simple.

OpenOffice won’t import all the sophisticated tables and formatting in existing Word documents but it certainly does a great job importing most documents I have. It won’t hurt to have a look. The one big missing is an e-mail/scheduling/task management component. Linux users have Ximian, but Windows users are a little stuck for a full -featured Outlook replacement.

The bottom line is I’m not ready to move from Office yet, it is still the best office suite out there, but OpenOffice is closing fast and the purchase price is quite compelling. Upgrade pricing runs from $0.00 to $0.00.

OpenOffice.org 1.1 Available Now

Written by Tom Murphy

October 13, 2003 at 12:52 pm

Posted in General

Online news rooms revisited

It’s been a while since we last discussed online newsrooms.

Like any web design project, the specification for an online news room should start with your audience.  What information are journalists visiting your website for, and what’s the best way to deliver it?

Vocus have released their third annual survey on the best practices for online newsrooms.  Among the survey’s more interesting findings are:

  • 92% of journalists in the survey use corporate websites for gathering information
  • Only 24% of journalists usually find the information they are looking for (up from less than 10% last year)
  • 45% of journalists say that finding the right information on a corporate web site affects their decision to include a firm in a feature
  • The most popular items journalists want online are press releases, contact information and corporate information
  • Their number one issue is no contact information!

There are some absolute cardinal rules for online press rooms:

 Post your contact details on the front page and on every page of information.  These details include direct phone and personal e-mail addresses

 Post press releases in real-time as they cross the wires (and include contact information with every release online)

 Provide background information and resources including photography etc

 Do NOT force journalists to register for access

 Post press releases in HTML – you can also provide them in PDF but always provide them in HTML first and foremost

 Enable journalists to sign-up for future press releases

 Ensure easy navigation from the front page of the website

 Clearly time-stamp press releases and materials

Then there’s a whole range of “nice to have” considerations for a press room. These include publishing your press releases as RSS feeds, providing feature suggestions, providing downloadable press kits.  The ExpertPR article on news rooms below includes a good list of these, however beware that in my opinion a number of their recommendations are not essential (and are promoting the work of the list’s authors) such as a full featured content management system, wireless distribution, built-in approval process etc.

Building an effective press room isn’t difficult.  Start with your audience and very quickly you can have an effective online resource.

Written by Tom Murphy

October 13, 2003 at 9:04 am

Posted in General

Public Relations Op-Eds for Monday…

Happy Monday morning.  If you’re looking to ease your way back into a new week, here’s a list of some interesting PR-related reading to get you started.

 Overcoming your nerves to make successful PR pitches [ExpertPR]

 Running a media training program [LACP]

 Tips for television appearances [ExpertPR]

 Why good creative PR requires discipline [RLMPR]

 The differences between print and web media [ExpertPR]

 PR and the principles of persuasion [LACP]

 A good checklist for what you need on your online press room [ExpertPR] Read more in the posting above.

 Defining PR [RLMPR]

 Building an effective media list [ExpertPR]

 Statistics on Corporate Morale [LACP]

 What’s the most effective means of pitching? E-mail (41%) Phone (36%) Face-to-Face (23%) [via LACP Online Poll]

Written by Tom Murphy

October 13, 2003 at 7:48 am

Posted in General

How communications is changing…

When new developments occur, human nature takes over and we rush to the new new thing and automatically begin thinking about how it will irrevocably change our lives.

The Internet boom was driven by the belief that off-line services, locations etc. would be superceeded by their online equivalents. I think, that even now, only four years on, it sounds kind of quaint and far fetched.

The reality is that the Internet has taken its rightful place alongside print, radio and television as a viable and important commerical medium. However, the Internet differs in two major respects when compared to the other mass media. Firstly the speed it was adopted and secondly unlike the others, the Internet continues to change and innovate all the time.

This continous innovation is one of the major challenges for Public Relations practitioners.

The good news is that PR practitioners are getting more interactive ways to communicate with target audiences. The bad news is that we must constantly keep on top of the more important developments and be cogniscent of how they affect the products and services we offer our clients and employers.

This post was promoted by a piece written by Elizabeth Albrycht which looked at the possible end of mass communication.

I think the growing media maze we are facing when we help organizations to communicate with their audiences are being affected by a wide range of factors, which when you bring them altogether raise some serious challenges.

The sophisticated consumer

People are far more educated in the twenty first century than at any time in our past. The result is a more difficult target for PR. Where before companies drove their message out with hyberbole and aggression, now consumers discount such gusto and want to drill down into the real details.

The global information center

Consumers don’t just make decisions based on reading or hearing from one source. That information may make them want to evaluate a product or service, but before they hand over their hard earned currency, they do a lot more research than before. As a result the sales model from prospect to customer is becoming more complex and PR must adapt to understand that model.

The Cluetrain effect

The Cluetrain Manifesto was not widely read by the general populace. It’s success has been built among marketing types and Internet experts who passionately believe a new approach to corporate communication and the interaction between the corporation and the consumer. The prescience of it’s message is breathtaking. Speak to your audience in plain language, language they understand or do not bother talking with them at all.

Noise Levels

Consumers are bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages every day. The challenge of getting your message through to your target market and those people taking notice of it is incredibly hard.

Constant Innovation

The Internet is always changing. These changes affect the job you do every day. The advent of Instant Messaging, E-mail, RSS and Blogs are all affecting your daily job. Embrace and understand how these new technologies do or do not affect your audience

 

So what are the new trends in my humble opinion?

Evolution not Revolution

Existing successful media outlets will continue. We’re nowhere near throwing out paper magazines, newspapers etc. Furthermore, we nowhere near throwing away paper printers in our offices either. So keeping our expertise in dealing with existing media is essential and paramount.

New media opportunities

Whilst our existing media will continue to be important there’s no doubt that new important media outlets are appearing. If our audience are reading blogs then blogs are a new media we need to manage.

Understand the delivery channels

How does your audience want to receive and find information? Is it on a website, in a blog, an e-mail newsletter, an RSS feed or a print publication? It’s your job to find out and deliver it as they want it.

The Corporate Communicator

As Elizabeth pointed out in her post, the organization will communicate directly with it’s audience more frequently across more media types than ever before. As a PR professional it’s up to you to ensure you are proficient in those new areas and that your programs incorporate them tightly to your objectives.

Managing Information

Finally the importance of managing information whether it’s internal collateral or the contact details and preferences of your audience has never been as important. We all must understand the best means of creating, sharing, managing and delivering information to people where and when they want it.

 

I believe that all this innovation is a huge opportunity for the PR business. You are the communications expert. Understand your audience and your media and you will be busier than ever before!

Written by Tom Murphy

October 10, 2003 at 11:36 am

Posted in General

A case study on Nokia's blog marketing

Marketing Sherpa have a really interesting case study on how Nokia used bloggers in the lead up to the launch of their 3650 phone.

The first thing they did was draw up a very well defined list of characteristics of their ideal target blogger. (Age, type of blog etc.)

Then after selecting ten bloggers, they sent an e-mail if they’d be interested in using the new Nokia phone pre-launch.

There was no requirement for the blogger to post to their weblog instead they were asked to upload them to a Nokia site.

In terms of results, several of the chosen bloggers were in the top fifteen referring sites to the Nokia micro-website.  Nokia were very pleased with the results.

Read more at MarketingSherpa – remember that after ten days MarketingSherpa content is subscription only.

Written by Tom Murphy

October 10, 2003 at 10:44 am

Posted in General

An exercise in bad timing…

This afternoon I received an e-mail advert from Unisys promoting Jet Blue’s usage of their servers.

Nothing wrong so far. 

The only problem is that the ad’s tagline reads: “We helped Jet Blue do something unique with their data”.

Now given the trials and tribulations Jet Blue faced last month when it was discovered they provided the travel data from five million customers to the Department of Defence, I’m not sure the ad’s tagline is the cleverest move.

Maybe there’s humor in there!

Written by Tom Murphy

October 9, 2003 at 5:31 pm

Posted in General

The exploding world of blogs

According to research just published by Perseus Development Corporation, there are about 4.12 million blogs online – however 2.31 million of these blogs have been abandoned.

Interestingly the reseach, which included over 3,000 random blogs, points to a gender breakdown of 44% male and 56% female.

The most popular age groups (between 10 years and 70 years) for blogging is 13-19 year olds who account for over 50% while the smallest group is 60-69 year olds with 0.3%.

I am always reminded of the phrase: “Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics”, when I look at this kind of research.

How accurate is this research?

I don’t know.  It’s certainly interesting, but I wouldn’t be basing any business decisions on it.

You can read more over at EMarketer.

Written by Tom Murphy

October 9, 2003 at 3:57 pm

Posted in General

Quote of the week

“Let the father answer his daughter’s question as to why her favourite cat has been taken away,” Dalenergo Director Nikolai Tkachyov told Russian TV station First Channel.

A Russian electricity company, Dalenergo, which operated in Vladivostok, is planning to confiscate pets to get customers to pay their arrears – which total 300 million roubles (10 million dollars).

Now there’s a challenging excecise in press release writing. [Yahoo]

Written by Tom Murphy

October 8, 2003 at 10:45 am

Posted in General