Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for February 2005

Open Source Marketing?

Successful marketing and Public Relations programs adapt to changes in their audiences.  Whether those changes are the adoption of new technology or changes in behavior, it’s essential that programs reflect those differences.

There’s a lot of hype online about blogs and RSS, which are both growing nicely, and they will ultimately become an everyday part of corporate and personal marketing campaigns. But there are other changes afoot.

The Cluetrain Manifesto has finally infiltrated marketing departments around the world.  Marketers are increasingly aware of the need to reach out and connect with consumers and influencers in a personal manner. Blogs are one of the tools which enable this person-centric communication, but it’s broader than blogs.

We need to think about how we engage with our audience.  How do they find information, how do they share that information.  There’s loads of opportunities for organizations that think through these issues.  The important point is that you need to be addressing these changes.  They still apply to a small proportion of the total market, but it’s growing fast.

James Cherkoff has published a ChangeThis manifesto titled “What is Open Source Marketing” which looks at many of these issues.  Just as James Governor over at Red Monk believes industry analysts can learn from the success of Open Source, Cherkoff tries to apply some of the same open source principles to general marketing practice.

“A new breed of marketers is emerging with a different vision of the world. Inspired by websites such as The Cluetrain Manifesto, they understand the mindset of the modern consumer and the influence of open source values.”

Cherkoff provides an interesting read and also offers some modern context for this growth in the number of consumers actively choosing what information they will use and where they will find it.

Although the original Cluetrain book is nearly six years old, it should still be your starting point on this journey. While the economy and technology have moved in the meantime, it still provides the best thinking on the need for organizations to learn about one-to-one communication.


Dan Gillmor‘s book We the media is another must-read if you’re interested in how your audience and media are changing.

Written by Tom Murphy

February 28, 2005 at 9:22 am

Posted in General

Here we go again…. PR gone bad…

Matthew Podboy calls out an untargeted pitch he recieved from an online service provider, regarding the possibility of a briefing for any future stories he might be writing on subject X.

I also received this pitch, as I imagine did many others.  They actually sent two similar pitches within a day of each other.

Now the very first lesson in pitching blogs is to read the blog you are pitching.  Get a basic understanding where the author is coming from, what subjects they’re interested in and what is the style of the writing. I can’t imagine you’d send a pitch to a magazine you have never read or researched. Maybe I’m wrong on that score.

Anyhow if the publicist in question had taken the time (probably all of ten-fifteen seconds), they would have realized that the product/service they are pitching is completely inapplicable to this blog. Completely. Mistake number one.

If they had taken the time to read even a week’s postings the publicist in question would have found a post I recently wrote on pitching blogs that would have saved him making this mistake.

However, the pitch was a mail merge which rather than being targeted was sent to probably a large number of bloggers. How do I know? Check out this paragraph for tell tale mail merge problems:

“Tom                 , we’d like to meet you and see where we might be able to serve as a source for future articles and offer some possible story ideas for your readers.  If you’d like to have a one-on-one briefing, we’d like to get on your calendar right now. Please drop us an e-mail with times you’ve got available and we’ll confirm your appointment and briefing.”

The spaces after my name point to the tell tale signs of an incompetent mail merge.

Looks like I’m not that special after all.

Now before anyone thinks I’m being overly harsh here, I get loads of pitches, some good, some OK, some awful.

If you need to promote your clients to the PR/Marketing audience and you have something interesting to say, then get in touch.  But for god’s sake do a little bit of research. This blog covers PR and Marketing related issues. That includes PR/Marketing services, useful applications, techniques, books there’s a huge rang eof subjects.  However it is not a blog about tax, legal affairs, politics or domestic cleaning agents.  You might spot that from the headline of the blog.


Thanks to Steve Rubel who points to Nick Wreden‘s 7 Habits of Highly Effective Blog PR:

  • Never pitch, personalize
  • Respect a blogger’s time and intelligence
  • “A blog is not about you, it is about me”
  • Quality, not quantity
  • Feed the food chain
  • It’s no longer just about the media
  • Keep learning

Written by Tom Murphy

February 28, 2005 at 8:34 am

Posted in General

Quote of the day…

“AMD has come close many times. I think of Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown.”

Insight 64 analyst Nathan Brookwood offers up an apt analogy AMD’s latest failed attempt to win Dell’s business.

Quote courtesy of the always brilliant Good Morning Silicon Valley

Written by Tom Murphy

February 25, 2005 at 9:55 am

Posted in General

Best PR blog announced and there's a lot of competition…

Congratulations to Mike Manuel and his Media Guerilla blog which has been named as the best PR blog in the 2005 Business Blogging Awards.

Congratulations also go to the other finalists including DrewB, Jeremy Pepper and Steve Rubel.

No doubt competition for 2006 will continue to get tougher.  Constantin Basturea, who I often think of as the guardian angel of PR blogs, thanks to the work he does, has a list of over 100 PR blogs.

Written by Tom Murphy

February 25, 2005 at 9:06 am

Posted in General

A storm in a tea cup?

Richard Koman over at Silicon Valley Watcher is a little upset at my comments earlier in the week regarding the post announcing Tibco as their blog’s first sponsor.

You can see Richard’s comment at the end of the original post.

“No, I don’t think it qualifies as advertorial. It is editorial about a company clearly identified as a sponsor. Nothing in it rings false or is anything Tom wouldn’t have written under other cicumstances. It signals that we will seek to work with companies that really have something to offer, not just that want to through money at us. As a blog, it’s nonproblematic to have a post about our first sponsor. It’s a big deal to us and validates our model of original writing on a blog.”

Now I think this is something of a storm in a tea cup.

In my post I clearly stated that Tom Foremski (correctly) flagged the Tibco post clearly as relating to a new site sponsor.  So anyone with any media savvy would realize that what followed was sponsortorial or whatever.

However I think it would have been better for the post to have been actually flagged as such.

I don’t believe for one second that Tom would have written that post if they weren’t a sponsor. Re-read the post

I don’t have all the answers.  No one probably cares.  Maybe I’m wrong on this one, but personally while I think it’s great Tibco have come on board that post ain’t editorial.

In fairness to Richard here’s his formal response on the blog.


In the long tradition of bloggers indulging in ‘upward link management’ you’ll see that Richard only links back to Dan Gillmor‘s post on the matter and not my little creaking blog. I’ll try not to get too upset about that…. 🙂

Written by Tom Murphy

February 25, 2005 at 8:52 am

Posted in General

New and Notable blog

Paul Griffo has kicked off a new PR blog called Washington Flack.

Paul is a senior public affairs specialist for the Federal Transit Administration. It’s great to see a growing diversity of PR blogs.

Written by Tom Murphy

February 25, 2005 at 8:36 am

Posted in General

Just when you think it can't get any worse…

Just as we recover from the Ketchum VNR episode and Ogilvy‘s American Express debacle, a new, far more sinister threat to the profession of Public Relations emerges…

Power Girls the long awaited MTV reality show kicks off on March 10.

Watch as the infamous Lizzie Grubman puts them through their paces.

I’m sure the show will mirror the daily grind of a job in PR. Coming in grumpy in the morning, wading through 6,000 e-mails, answering voicemails, cup of coffee, read the papers…

I have a feeling that PowerGirls may skip some of the more mundane stuff.  Hopefully none of the work will involve driving SUVs.  I wonder if they’ll be working on any microprocessor accounts? Now that would be reality TV…

On a brighter note, my favorite advert at the moment is Volkwagen’s reworking of Gene Kelly’s “Singing in the Rain”… fantastic…

Written by Tom Murphy

February 23, 2005 at 11:37 am

Posted in General

Fired for no RSS…. don't be silly

Does anyone spot the irony of Robert Scoble‘s rant on RSS, which is probably the meme of the week so far?

Briefly, in case you missed it, Scoble makes the assertion that if you have a marketing website without RSS then you should be fired.  At the end of his post  Scoble admits that Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, has just added RSS feeds to its press room. Now if the world’s largest software company has only just added RSS feeds to its newsroom that probably gives you a good idea of the maturity of RSS.

RSS offers a wide range of benefits, which I won’t bore you by going into again (check out the links below).  It will ultimately be a tier-one communication channel for every company and individual, but it’s not there yet.

PR and marketing people are beginning to look at the potential of RSS.  Technology companies are offering RSS feeds in increasing numbers, but these are still early adopters. 

How long before companies outside the early adopters start using RSS?  It’s anyone’s guess but it will be a while. All new technologies require push and pull.

So don’t fret that you’ve missed the RSS boat, you haven’t.  There’s plenty of time and now is as good a time as any to start evaluating a technology that promises to make communication with your audience more effective.

If you work for a PR firm or a technology company then this is a reminder that you really do need to understand RSS and look into implementing it.

In the meantime let’s add some more reality.



Written by Tom Murphy

February 23, 2005 at 10:07 am

Posted in General

Blogging for cash…

Mike Manuel points to a great article by J.D. Lasica over at the Online Journalism Review which looks at the ethical challenges facing bloggers as weblogs become more popular and ultimately more influential.

“But credible publications always demarcate advertorial from editorial content. (Sony Style magazine would not fall under the umbrella of �credible.�) All reputable publishers require that such content be set off in a different typeface, and they put out the word that their covers and content are not for sale. In other words, you don�t need to read the fine print to know you�ve just read an ad. But Ratcliffe makes the important point that with advertorials, the advertiser controls the content of the message � something that doesn�t happen with the paid-bloggers program.

Wherever there are eyeballs there is money, and no matter how much starry-eyed blog purists may not like it, the power of the dollar sign is going to become a bigger part of the blog landscape.

I think the question here is credibility.  While you are reading a blog you will make a conscious or unconscious decision on whether the blog:

  • a) Is interesting
  • b) Is relevant
  • c) Is trustworthy

As soon as the writer fails to meet those criteria, readers will vote with their URLs. This is the challenge for bloggers. 

On a personal level, I have no problem with bloggers making the most of their site with supported advertising, where that advertising is clearly flagged and there is clearly no undue influence on the content. I also have no problem with bloggers promoting their clients or employers – again as long as that connection is clearly highlighted.

The Internet is a small, connected place. Writing glowing posts for back-hand payments is a sure way of growing your readership to zero. It’s blogger beware.


There’s an interesting example of this over at Tom Foremski’s Silicon Valley Watcher.

Tibco has become one of the first sponsors of the blog, and in return Tom has posted an advetorial on Tibco. It is effectively an advetorial.  At least Tom has flagged that Tibco are a sponsor of the blog, which should alert most people to the fact that what follows is an advertising message.

If I had one complaint, I think Tom should have flagged the post formally as advertising.

“We are very pleased to announce Tibco as the first of an elite group of Founding Sponsors of SiliconValleyWatcher. There will be others announced over the coming weeks, but Tibco stands out because it was one of the first to understand what we are trying to achieve: to deliver a high quality online business news magazine about Silicon Valley, featuring top journalists and enabled by the latest media technologies.

Tibco is a model company: the first Silicon Valley company–and only the third in the US after Disney and Qualcomm–to have achieved compliance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. This is immensely difficult and it is an impressive achievement.”

Written by Tom Murphy

February 23, 2005 at 8:40 am

Posted in General

PR Misc – February 21, 2005

 There must be something in the ether… Morgan McLintic points out that Lewis PR founder Chris Lewis is now live and online with his own blog, Lewis on Global Spin. It’s great to see more CEO’s coming online to share their thoughts.


  I’ve been remiss not mentioning the latest release(s) of the The Hobson and Holtz Report. There have been two recent podcasts.  Podcast #7 includes an interview with Lo�Le Meur of Six Apart and covers Eason Jordan’s problems among other items.  Podcast #8 covers the public release of Paul Otellini’s internal blog, the issues around attempting to license PR practitioners and a look at the growing army of influential political bloggers.


  Andy Lark points to Edelman‘s 2005 Annual Trust Barometer [PPT] while Richard Edelman looks at the issue of trust.


 Tom Foremski provides the skinny on the Antenna Group‘s latest soiree in San Francisco.


Written by Tom Murphy

February 21, 2005 at 1:05 pm

Posted in General