Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for January 2004

Spam Act only affecting the innocent…

Well as we move towards the end of January has anyone seen a decrease in Spam?

It seems to me that the volume of spam keeps growing and the only people who have taken any notice of the CAN-SPAM Act are legitimate businesses who only account for a tiny fraction of the spam we get every day.

So as usual, legitimate businesses have been trying to understand the Act and its implications. Legitimate businesses have been changing their e-mail practices to adhere to the act and in the meantime the major source of spam, i.e. the people who inform you of new wonder drugs, illegal software and amateur photo opportunities have continued on regardless.

We need more than CAN-SPAM and given the impact of spam on global business I’d expect a more concerted effort to stop those people who are causing such grief on a daily basis. Mr. Gates says the spam problem will be solved in two years… I won’t be placing any bets on that prediction.

Written by Tom Murphy

January 27, 2004 at 1:22 pm

Posted in General

A new old PR blog

Phil Gomes who previously wrote his own weblog before hosting the G2B Group’s version has re-started his original blog.


Written by Tom Murphy

January 27, 2004 at 7:56 am

Posted in General

RSS is a tool not a cure…

Mitch Wagner took the time to comment on my post last week on RSS. I think he raises an interesting issue.

He ponders “how is an RSS feed going to make you more effective at PR? Why should we assume that the RSS feed will contain content any more interesting to me than any of those (irrelevant PR) e-mails and phone calls?”

Of course the answer is RSS doesn’t mean the content is any better. The fax, the word processor and the Internet have failed to change the nature of PR information and how it’s delivered. However RSS does add one additional feature to the mix.

If there are companies worth tracking, news can be quickly and easily scanned in one place (the RSS reader).  Furthermore, RSS is completely democratic.  You decide if you want to subscribe or not.

So if I do a good job with a journalist (or a customer or a partner) they will add my feed(s) to their RSS reader and there’s a much higher chance of them seeing and even reading the news. That’s a big win for PR and can (when the majority of companies in a market are using RSS) help everyone keep up with breaking news in a far easier way than e-mail or even web sites.

As E-mail continues to die on its feet, then if a growing number of people begin to use RSS to keep up to date, every company must work hard to ensure the content they are providing is relevant so that people will remain subscribed.

I admit we are at the very early stages of RSS, however as it gathers momentum it should have benefits for the company and the media. Now if I send rubbish across my RSS feed I know I run the risk of people unsubscribing.

Will it stop stupid phonecalls? No.

Will it stop stupid irrelevant e-mail? No (in the short run)

Does it provide a far easier way of keeping on top of the latest news from hundreds of companies? Yes.

In summary, RSS is a tool that helps in managing the exponentially growing volume of data.  Unfortunately it’s an addition and not a replacement for what went before.

Written by Tom Murphy

January 26, 2004 at 6:22 pm

Posted in General

Why RSS is good enough for PR

Dylan Greene has some well argued points on why RSS is not ready for “prime time”. While I think many of his thoughts are absolutely valid, in my opinion they don’t preclude the use of RSS today.

Here’s why I think that’s the case.

The simple fact is that the best solution to a problem, particularly a problem related to technology, is not always the one that wins. In fact the best, most complete and well built solution rarely wins – think Microsoft Windows.

From a PR perspective what we want from RSS is a mechanism that can automatically communicate with our audience (journalists, analysts, customers, partners etc.) and inform them when there is something new and noteworthy taking place.

Why do we want this mechanism? Well it is an alternative to the spam-filled inboxes of our audience.  It is cost-effective and very efficient at alerting your audience and delivering the content.

It is also a very effective tool for overwhelmed PR practitioners, who can quickly and easily keep up to date with the latest news and developments from key publications and companies.

Does it offer archives? No.

Is it user-friendly (or is my mother likely to use it)? No.

Is it interactive, offering the ability to make comments? No.

Does any of this matter for the purposes of communication? No.

Sure there are improvements that can be made to RSS.  But the fact is, it is highly efficient at publishing information. If someone needs an archive or the ability to add comments then visit the website where the content originates.

The more we try and add bells and whistles to this thing the greater the opportunity for missing the point.

RSS works today, a growing number of companies offer the feeds, a growing number of journalists and customers are subscribing to them warts and all.

Of course RSS isn’t a replacement for e-mail and there’s no doubt that many people will treat RSS as some techie fad. That’s always the way.  But we’re already getting the benefit of RSS and it can’t hurt you to try.

What’s wrong with that? Nothing.



Written by Tom Murphy

January 23, 2004 at 1:37 pm

Posted in General

New PR blog

Good news for any PR people who enjoy reading fellow practitioners thoughts on the business and its challenges (see links on the top left of this page).

A new PR blog has been launched by Constantin Basturea.  The blog is entitled PR meets the WWW.

Written by Tom Murphy

January 23, 2004 at 1:16 pm

Posted in General

PR is a long term process… but I want it now

Newsday has a story discussing how Martha’s PR onslaught hasn’t yet repaired her damaged reputation but that it is recovering.

Although most of us are developing attention deficit disorder as we battle the increased workloads, the deluge of information and the stress of managing the balance between work and home, I don’t think our lack of attention is so bad that when she’s still in court we’d forget she was in court.  If you catch my drift.

PR takes time.  Building relationships, trust and understanding isn’t solved by throwing millions of dollars at a PR-Advertising campaign.  No matter how hard we try. 

Martha (and her legal advisors) was slow out of the gates realising the importance of communicating with her audience, she’s making up for lost time and there’s no reason why she can’t recover.  Look at Exxon’s results….

Written by Tom Murphy

January 22, 2004 at 4:49 pm

Posted in General

The latest PR Newswire news via RSS…

PRNewswire is now delivering its newsfeed via RSS.  If you ever needed a great example of how RSS can simplify research, this is the one.

[Source: ResearchBuzz]

Written by Tom Murphy

January 22, 2004 at 2:58 am

Posted in General

The foot wound mightn't be as bad as first reported…

Eric Arnold over at PR Week has kindly been in touch with me following yesterday’s post regarding their move to a subscription model.

He points out that you can still subscribe to their excellent daily newsletter free of charge from the web site.

I’m happy to point out the correction!

Written by Tom Murphy

January 21, 2004 at 4:40 pm

Posted in General

PR is more accessible than ever… so use it

Since I started working in marketing in 1991 it has always apparent that the biggest problem with marketing is that everyone believes they can do it, and in most cases that they can do it better than the marketing professionals.  Every department has their opinion, sales people, engineers, HR managers they all have their opinions.

But if you thought marketing people have it bad, the problem for PR people becomes even more acute. Just write a press release and send it out, what’s hard about that?

That’s when the trouble starts.

PR is about effective communication with your audience.  It’s not simply about whacking out press releases. If it was we’d all be a lot less stressed.

This has been a particular problem for smaller companies who can’t afford to employ a PR person in-house or a pay a retainer for a big agency but still need to communicate with the media, their partners, customers etc.

The good news for smaller companies is that they have never had a better opportunity to get the benefit of savvy PR counsel.

There are thousands of PR consultants now offering affordable PR counsel and helping smaller companies to build effective communications programs.

There’s no excuse for careless mistakes that can cost your business your reputation, your customers and your revenue.

By investing a reasonable amount of budget, smaller companies can avoid potential catastrophic mistakes such as this, while building credibility and profile.

You wouldn’t ask your plumber to fix your brand new car so why would you risk your firm’s reputation? 

Thanks to Robb Hecht for the link.

Written by Tom Murphy

January 21, 2004 at 4:22 am

Posted in General

Fiddling the time sheets

You may have already read about this, but I missed it.  It’s a clear warning to anyone tempted to play around clients’ time sheets.

Earlier this month, two Ogilvy & Mather executives were indicted for conspiracy for allegedly overbilling the U.S. government for a campaign on behalf of the Office of the National Drug Control Policy.

One of the executives, CFO, Thomas Early has since resigned.


Written by Tom Murphy

January 20, 2004 at 5:10 pm

Posted in General