Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for July 2004

It's Journalism. No it's not. Yes it is. No it's not…….

I have purposely avoided discussing the blogging taking place at the Democratic convention, as there are a lot of people focusing closely on it and they’ll cover it a lot better than I.

However, it was fairly inevitable that the number of bloggers at the convention would raise a red flag to the never ending debate around blogs and journalism.

A New York Times article profiling some of the bloggers at the convention has raised the temperature once again.

Stowe Boyd comments:

“We are taking the remote control out of the hands of the editors, and they don’t like it. It will eat into their advertising, big time. It is no wonder, given what is at stake, that the established priesthood will rail from their pulpits, and make light of what is a truly profound power shift in the making.”

This debate drives me mad. But let’s take it back to first principles for Public Relations. Our job is to effectively communicate with a given audience.  If the most effective means of doing that is via journalists we do that, if it’s bloggers we do that.  Sometime it’ll be both. That’s all that matters from a pure PR perspective.

Is blogging journalism? In my opinion it is not.

Is blogging a communication medium? Yes it is, if it is being read by your audience.

What annoys me about this “debate” is that both sides treat their audiences as if they are too simple to make up their own minds. That’s not the reality.

The reality is that audiences are becoming more sophisticated and are making their own choices as to what they will and won’t read. They can differentiate between journalism and bloggers.  They often read both to get different perspectives.

Please for our collective sanity let it go.

Further reading from the PR Opinions Archives:


Written by Tom Murphy

July 30, 2004 at 9:53 am

Posted in General

I'll turn around so you can kick me again…

John C. Dvorak, the grumpiest of grumpy old men, defender of the IT consumer, curmudgeon and all round Microsoft baiter has taken a swing at Global PR Blog Week.

“I can�t imagine a worse combination of ingredients: PR and blogging! That said, I can�t tell if these folks are on to something or if they are just complainers who can�t get work.”

Anyway, that’s hardly a surprise and our fellow professionals take John to task so I don’t intend to make any further comment. So why this post?

Well Trevor Cook’s comment made me laugh out loud this morning:

“Trashing other people�s professions is of course one of the popular pastimes of modern life. We all know lawyer jokes by the hundred. In fact, we used to call the IT guy �mirrors� because everytime we pointed to a problem he said �I�ll look into it”.”

I’ve already used it with our IT guy and he doesn’t like it. Fantastic.


Thanks to Matthew Podboy for the link.

Written by Tom Murphy

July 30, 2004 at 8:29 am

Posted in General

The growth of PR in Canada…

Canada’s Marketing Magazine has a feature on the growing importance of Public Relations in the marketing mix.

“For the last two years, Diageo Canada has run a successful program around St. Patrick’s Day called the Guinness Party of Canada, a pseudo-political group aimed at turning the Irish festivities into a new national holiday. The effort may make a lot of sense for the purveyor of the Guinness brand, but more than that, it speaks to a growing number of companies that are embracing public relations like never before.”

Written by Tom Murphy

July 29, 2004 at 8:58 am

Posted in General

Control the blog…

Just after I finished my last rant on control, I see that Mike Manual points to a story on a similar theme.  Internetnews, in a story on how blogs and RSS can help business, includes a quote from consultant Lisa Poulson:

“PR firms love to control the message, control who says the message, control who has access to who says the message and the timing of the message,” she said. “Blogs upset the applecart in all four ways. But building that credibility and trust are still the basis for that individual relationship.”


Written by Tom Murphy

July 29, 2004 at 8:51 am

Posted in General

To communicate is beautiful….

The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly Creative Business supplement leads with a story on how supermodels such as Claudia Schiffer are attempting to beat the traditional limitations of their profession, i.e. ageism by building their personal brand.

“In reality, however, this shorthand (‘celebrity sells’) is a scribbled montage of press coverage, brand tie-ins and carefully controlled PR. (For this interview, Schiffer’s London PR agency originally asked for – and was immediately refused – copy and headline approval.)”

At least the journalist, Katja Hofmann, included the agency’s clumsy and ridiculous attempt to “manage” the story.  All too often journalists don’t point out this practice. I can’t find the firm in question, so it would be great if she had published their name 🙂

Girls and boys, you don’t build relationships by trying to manipulate, strong arm or bluff people.  Your days are coming to an end, how will you ever adapt to a world where you will have to communicate with people outside the media-sphere on a one-to-one basis?

The illusion of control is eroding. Understand how to communicate with people. That’s communicate not obfuscate.

Written by Tom Murphy

July 29, 2004 at 8:34 am

Posted in General

Old ideas, new applications… same result

I had a great meeting today with Bernie Goldbach.  Our discussion covered a whole range of topics from the success of Global PR Blog Week to how the availability of information is changing how we work.

Google of course is central to that discussion.  The fact that you can find out an alarming amount of information about anyone from one website has exciting and worrying implications.

The usability and power of Google has successfully lifted the company alongside global corporate heavyweights and the media have been busy dusting off the 1998 hyperbole – it seems they can do no wrong.

Just look at the coverage Gmail continues to get in the mainstream media. Of course the “viral” marketing around Gmail isn’t a new idea.  There are many examples from the past.  Microsoft successfully used a similar tactic, albeit in the physical world, to build buzz around Windows 95.  Their prolonged “beta” program drove huge demand for technical and business people who wanted a preview of the “new” release of Windows.

Google took the same idea, applied it to a different product and enjoyed the benefits of the Internet medium to reach out to millions of people. Of course the Internet does provide a medium which makes this person-to-person transmission faster, easier and cheaper – we just have to learn how to use it effectively.

Sometimes it can prove very beneficial to examine tactics that have worked in the past and investigate how they might still be applicable today.

“PR people, our profession has changed. Our day-to-day jobs are no longer just “how do we get the media to write about our widget.” PR has now evolved to “how do we engage our customers in meaningful conversations so they do our PR for us and get the media writing about our widget!” The word “public relations” is finally no longer a misnomer. It means relating with publics in a two-way dialogue, not so much relating with media � though the two go hand in hand.” Steve Rubel


Thanks to Trevor Cook and Steve Rubel for the link to the Gmail story

Thanks for Richard Bailey for blowing my cover again 🙂 As many of you already know although this blog focuses mostly on US PR issues, I am based in Dublin, Ireland. Thanks to Stuart Bruce also!

PS.. I hope Google’s PR people are prepared for any crisis. When the media builds a corporation up so high, the fall can be even faster….

Written by Tom Murphy

July 28, 2004 at 4:08 pm

Posted in General

Innovative thinking or hogwash?

Trevor Cook’s posting today struck a chord with me.  He questions the value of “new wave” marketing:

“Godin also wrote a book called permission marketing – as if anyone would give permission to be marketed to. When it comes to marketing we’re all pretty much in the ‘don’t call me I’ll call you’ category. Marketing is about grabbing the attention of people who are otherwise disinclined to listen.”

Now don’t get me wrong, Seth Godin does make a lot of sense, in fact a lot of his writing is just that – common sense. 

But I have to admit that in Gartner parlance, I am in the trough of disillusionment (PDF) when it comes to these marketing thinkers.  Maybe it’s because I’ve read too many of the books.

I bought Purple Cow which was a huge bestseller, as most of Seth’s books are, however I really didn’t enjoy it or get a lot of value from it.

I yearn for more marketing reality. How do we sell more products to more customers, what tools are we using, why are they working? Why are they not working?

Being remarkable can certainly help a company, but it’s not that simple. If it was there would be no need for marketing. The fact is everyone is under pressure for time, budget and results.

That’s the reality….


Written by Tom Murphy

July 28, 2004 at 1:40 pm

Posted in General

The magic art of conversation…

Good Morning Silicon Valley is one of the things I read every day.  It provides a useful and entertaining take on all things technology.

It also provides some fantastic off-topic links.  Today’s link is a keeper: Conversation Cheap Shots.

How many of these have you been subjected to, used or heard?

“I would like to answer your question directly, but considering your past reactions / ability to cope with the truth / emotional instability, I feel that to do so would be a disservice to you at this time.”

[Other person gets (justifiably) upset.]

“See, what did I tell you. You are flying off the handle already!”

Two words… justifiable homicide… 🙂

Written by Tom Murphy

July 28, 2004 at 10:39 am

Posted in General

PR Research UK Style..

In the past few days I’ve come across news of three PR-related research studies in the UK, but I’ve had mixed results trying to find the actual results.

 Chime Communications has surveyed 100 senior communications and marketing professions on the challenges they face from the “information age”. They found 75% of respondents believe CEO’s are becoming more like politicians and 84% believe that successful organizations are those that strive for transparency and openness. In the spirit of openness, I can reveal I’ve been unsuccessful actually finding the survey or its results on the Chime website.  Let me know if you’ve any better luck.

Update: Constantin Basturea did have better luck and sent me on the link to the survey – it’s a PDF. (Thanks Constantin!)

 Forbidden Technologies has conducted a survey of the heads of internal communications at 100 of the UK’s top companies.  60% believe that their firms fail to communicate effectively with staff and 40% say their employees are not aware of the company’s vision or future direction. I would estimate that 100% of visitors to their website won’t be able to find the actual survey…

 Finally, Rainier PR has put together what I would call an anecdotal survey on the relationship between the media and PR in UK, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, US, Holland, Italy and France – using its partners in those countries. The top five recommendations from the study are:

  1. Target publications specifically
  2. Don’t badger journalists over the phone
  3. Be clear
  4. Don’t forget the freelancers
  5. Don’t put junior staff into difficult situations
  6. Give journalists proper access to clients


Written by Tom Murphy

July 28, 2004 at 9:41 am

Posted in General

Update on PR Opinions

Normal postings will resume tommorrow 🙂

Written by Tom Murphy

July 27, 2004 at 1:54 pm

Posted in General