Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for May 2004

More on corporate blogging guidelines..

Further to the post last week on Corporate Blogging Guidelines, Billy McCormac has unearthed some additional guidance on setting up a corporate blog provided by IMN Inc. (formerly I Make News).

You can download the guidelines here (PDF).

“Allow the weblog to have a distinct voice and use it to strengthen the brand. One of its key advantages is the quick, constant exchange of bits of information that may not be substantial enough to belong in a newsletter. In doing so, the bond with clients is strengthened and new voices are heard.”

 

Written by Tom Murphy

May 31, 2004 at 10:55 am

Posted in General

When open source goes bad…

One of the great things about the Internet is that most things are measurable and trackable.

This electronic paper trail regularly catches out “clever” people who surreptitiously promote their products, companies or services online.

According to Slashdot, one of the more recent perpetrators is JBoss, a “professional” open source provider of software technology known as middleware.

It seems that staff have been posting wonderful things about their products on various message boards, the only problem is that all the posters have the same IP address which is located at JBoss HQ.

Very clever….natch.

This was widespread a couple of years ago and it seems to be continuing. It’s not exactly building a conversation with your audience is it? It’s dumb.

Written by Tom Murphy

May 27, 2004 at 1:31 pm

Posted in General

PR and blogs

Pamela Parker over at ClickZ tackles the growing momentum and importance of blogs.

“That means an approach from your company that offers exclusive, early information would likely be welcomed. A recent Blog Search Engine poll of 610 bloggers found 74 percent of bloggers are open to receiving information from companies and organizations, though 91 percent have never been approached. As with any PR effort, understand you can’t control what bloggers say. Their brutal honesty is what appeals to their readers, after all.”

Written by Tom Murphy

May 27, 2004 at 1:16 pm

Posted in General

E-mail etiquette (again)

I am personally amazed how often journalists give out about how badly PR people use e-mail.

Every PR-journalist event I have attended since around 1998 has included a journalist giving out about PR people and e-mail.

The etiquette of PR e-mail is well established.  There is no dark science, no secrets, yet it continues.

I recently gave a talk to some PR students and when I raised this issue and explained to them to do’s and don’ts, a number of them actually started arguing with me that I was wrong and it was perfectly acceptable to send unsolicited attachments, HTML e-mails with nice fonts and colors etc.

It’s not.

Ben Silverman over at PR Fuel provides an overview of his pet e-mail peeves (just in case you think I’m making it up).

Written by Tom Murphy

May 27, 2004 at 8:51 am

Posted in General

The copy editor and the story of PR immunity…

Hot on the heels of my post yesterday about copy editor’s nightmares comes this gem from Michael O’Connor Clarke.

The Financial Times ran a story about Irish budget airline Ryanair and their ongoing snafu with Belgian airport authorities.  It seems the Belgians paid Ryanair subsidies to encourage to company to use its airport and now they are looking for the money back.

In the current version of the story on the FT website the story reads:

“Michael O’Leary, Ryanair chief executive, said on Tuesday that the Belgian authorities had written to the airline demanding the repayment of around �3m.

Mr O’Leary said the company had written back making clear it did not intend to repay the money.”

However a quick Google search reveals the original version of the story:

 “Michael O’Leary, Ryanair chief executive, said the Belgian authorities had written to the airline demanding the repayment of about �3m (�2m).

“We have written back to say ‘fuck off’,” he said yesterday.”

My first point here is that you can understand why they re-edited the story!  But this illustrates another interesting point.  Ryanair are currently in what I call the “PR immunity” zone. 

Ryanair are a “no frills” airline, modeled on the South West Airlines business plan but cheaper and nastier.  This is no Jet Blue.

They offer cheap flights to hundreds of destinations, their planes are dirty, their customer service is appalling and everything (including rental of a wheelchair) costs extra.

Their CEO Michael O’Leary is outspoken (see quote above) and in Ireland no company has ever received as much negative publicity as Ryanair. No company. 

There are negative stories in the newspapers, on the radio, on the TV every single week ranging from lost bags, ignorant staff and stranded passengers etc.  Now, where prolonged (three years or more) negative publicity like this would be a major issue for most businesses, it has no affect on Ryanair’s growth (Current market cap: $4.6 Billion, Income: $1.26 Billion Gross Profit: $448 Million.

I think there’s a number of reasons:

1) Honesty.  Ryanair don’t pretend to be anything other than a cheap, nasty, we’ll get you there airline, don’t ask how. When people complain, they are always consistent on their cheap message.

2) Anti-establishment. Ryanair have become one of Europe’s largest airline by competing with and beating all the incumbent (and in many cases State-run) airlines. They consistently portray themselves and fighting on behalf of the consumer and defending open competition.

3) Value. Ryanir has forced a revolution in European air travel.  I personally have had a couple of flights with them at a ticket cost of less than $1. (The airport tax is $30 but the ticket costs $1)

Simply put Ryanair have found a sweet spot where the value of their cheap fares (and they are the most on-time airline in Europe) outweighs the negative stories about their customer service and business practices. People realize they are taking a cheap option and are happy to put up with inconvenience to take advantage of cheap fares. In fact in Ireland, most people resign themselves to the fact that should there be a delay or a problem it’s their own fault for going Ryanair.

A couple of years back a flight from Paris to Dublin had to be postponed overnight.  (Ryanair don’t actually fly into Paris, they fly into an army base miles from the French capital.) The ground staff apologized to the passengers and then took them to their overnight accomodation. No not a Holiday Inn, the passengers spent the night on bunk beds in an army barracks.

Now that’s value….

Will Ryanair continue to enjoy PR immunity? Who knows? But it’s an interesting PR case study.

Footnote:

Practically every Ryanair flight is booked through their website.  However rather than retain a proven web development company to build the online booking system, they hired a couple of students to build it. It’s still running.

Written by Tom Murphy

May 27, 2004 at 8:32 am

Posted in General

Political campaigns…

Colin McKay re-posts some caricatures of the typical election candidate, PR and journalist. (Full size images are available at Colin’s blog). 

CandidateRev.jpgFlackREV.jpgReporterREV.jpg

Written by Tom Murphy

May 26, 2004 at 4:03 pm

Posted in General

Copy Editor's nightmare..

Tom Mangan points to a very amusing discussion on the dreaded copy mistakes…

“In college we ran a story in the campus daily talking about “alcohol usage in pubic areas,” which the campus adviser circled in red and scribbled, “I hear this is good at getting rid of crabs” or words to that effect.”

Written by Tom Murphy

May 26, 2004 at 3:45 pm

Posted in General

Closing online business..

Elsewhere at Ad:Tech there was some good hands-on advice on how to convert  visitors to your website into revenue. 

  • Focus on content, ease of use, performance, brand value, and customer satisfaction.
  • Eliminate distractions that could lead visitors out of the buying process.
  • Avoid giving unpleasant surprises such as a high shipping cost revealed deep into the checkout process.
  • Address potential deal breakers early in the process.
  • Focus on building trust throughout the relationship

Footnote:

Thanks to the Ad:Tech blog (again).

Written by Tom Murphy

May 26, 2004 at 3:38 pm

Posted in General

It's not what you say… it's who you say it to…

At the Ad:Tech conference this week,  Ed Keller, co-author of The Influentials, gave a talk on the power of a small group (>10%) of people who exercise disproportionate influence over others in sharing information and making recommendations.

This trend, and the need for companies to identify and have conversations with these people, is a real opportunity for Public Relations.

If you can find and communicate with these people, they can have a profound influence on the success of your product or service. It’s a really interesting area and one we should all be investigating.

Heath Row has an extended transcript on Ed’s talk.

Footnote:

Link courtesy of the Ad:Tech blog.

Written by Tom Murphy

May 26, 2004 at 3:32 pm

Posted in General

Who am I?

Trevor Cook, the mastermind behind Global PR Blog Week is getting participants to answer some questions to add some color to proceedings.

Here are mine…

Why do you blog?
*
I fell into blogging about two and a half years ago when I was looking for a means of collecting together all the various PR web links I had.  I put them all on a website and low and behold people starting reading and commenting on them.
 
Over a thousand posts later, the PR blog landscape has blossomed with over thirty PR practitioners regularly writing and musing on the business and the challenges facing us.
 
I blog to cater for my love of the sound of my voice 🙂 and also because it challenges my thinking about PR, marketing and online communication.
 
And why is blogging important for PR?
I think that Blogs are important to PR for two reasons. First of all they provide a great medium for looking at the changes and issues facing the profession and secondly they illustrate how the practice of PR is evolving.
 
We are moving toward a time when PR people will be increasingly communicating directly with the audience, when PR people will be using a host of new tools alongside the tried and tested techniques to help organizations communicate more effectively with their customers and prospects. As the Cluetrain Manifesto claimed nearly five years ago: ?Markets are Conversations?
 
What do you hope to see come out of this event?
* I think this event provides a great opportunity to bring together a wide range of people to discuss Public Relations and more importantly an opportunity for a large number of PR practitioners in different industries, markets and countries to learn, share and discuss how the profession is changing, developing and performing.  That?s an exciting prospect.
 
What issue(s) will you be focusing on in your contribution and why?
* I along with a number of others will be focusing on the state of public relations.  In particular I?ll be looking at how PR is reacting to the changing communications environment, how people feel PR is developing and any other area that readers or participants want to cover.

Written by Tom Murphy

May 26, 2004 at 2:23 pm

Posted in General