Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for April 2005

PR spam and RSS

In the comments on my post regarding PR e-mail, Jeremy is concerned about his press releases getting caught in spam filters. 

One quick way to check whether your press release will probably get through, is to use a free online service called spamcheck:

Send your press release to:

Put the word “TEST” at the beginning of the subject line and you’ll get an automated response in a couple of minutes rating the “spam-content” of your press release!

Also Tate asks if there are any good resources for illustrating the benefits of RSS to journalists.

I don’t know of any specific resources.  I include our RSS feed in my e-mail signature and at the bottom of our press releases, I’ve had some good feedback from journalists on both.

There are a number of good media stories on the benefits of RSS which may help:

I’d be interested to hear other PR people’s experiences “selling” RSS….


Written by Tom Murphy

April 13, 2005 at 8:50 am

Posted in General

New and notable….

Tate Hoxworth who is based in South Carolina has a brand new blog titled B-toB Public Relations.


Written by Tom Murphy

April 13, 2005 at 8:27 am

Posted in General

PR Opinions Survey Closing..

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to complete the second annual PR Opinions survey

We’ve doubled the sample since last year.  I’ll be closing it off this evening and will hopefully have the results ready soon.


Written by Tom Murphy

April 12, 2005 at 9:08 am

Posted in General

This is the best PR campaign I've ever seen…

I am being inundated with e-mail.  Spam seems to be increasing even with clever server-side and desktop-based anti-spam agents, I’m sure it’s the same for everyone.

Picking through my spam folder and trying to identify legitimate e-mail is becoming a more difficult task.  I’ve written about this before, but the subject line of your e-mail is critical.  If you want a journalist, analyst or business contact to open the message, particularly when they don’t know you very well, the subject line could well be the deciding factor.

Already this week, I’ve had calls from people following up their e-mails where I deleted their message, not because I wasn’t interested but because I assumed it was spam. In PR we focus on trying to write tight, punchy e-mails that capture someone’s interest up front.  But how much time do we spend on the subject line?

Also, I’m interested in people’s thoughts on press release subject lines. (Shock! Horror! I still send press releases via e-mail – and the wires, and RSS*….) I have come to the conclusion that if you’re sending a press release to a journalist that’s relevant and timely it makes most sense to be up front about the content of the message by placing “PR:” at the beginning of the subject line.  Feedback on this practice has been positive so far, after all there’s no point trying to pretend your e-mail is something it isn’t.  Does anyone have any thoughts on it?

*One last point about RSS for delivering information. We’ve been offering Press Release feeds over RSS for a long time so it’s an area I know something about. Some advocates of RSS have declared that with RSS there’s no longer a need to send press releases (and I know they’re dead… really I do..) via e-mail. I think that’s rubbish. That is the 1995 equivalent of saying: “I’ve put the press release up on the website so everyone will read it”.  RSS will ultimately become a primary medium for news dissemination, but we’ll still need e-mail.  Over time as more people adopt and monitor RSS feeds then the need for e-mail will be reduced but that will take time and you’ll still have to reach out to people who don’t know your firm or its products.  From talking to many of the thought leaders in the RSS area there are a number of very interesting developments taking place in terms of extending the reach of RSS and those developments will accelerate it’s adoption.


Footnote 2:

In the course of a talk I was giving last weekend to PR students, I polled the room to see how many of them were aware of blogs.  To my surprise nearly half the room had read or heard of blogs which is a huge increase over my last random poll.

Written by Tom Murphy

April 12, 2005 at 9:06 am

Posted in General

Blogging about PR blogs blogging about blogging.

Pete Shinbach asks the question: “Why are PR bloggers so anal?”.

It’s a valid question….

“Why are PR bloggers so obsessed with blogging? I was thinking about this the other day when I noticed that just about every PR blog post I saw was about blogging. I use two newsreaders — one that just scoops up everything and one that’s set to be a tad more discriminating.”

It’s something I discussed the other day. There is a disproportionate amount of blogging about blogging among the PR community.

I include myself in that.

In my own case I think it’s laziness.  Limited time, RSS, loads of online content equals disproportionate volumes of posting on blogs.  The man we should be taking the lead from of course is Jim Horton, who primarily posts pure PR and his posts are both interesting and challenging. [Mr. Edelman also deserves an honorable mention]

So, I am going to make an effort on this front. I’m not mad on the whole blog echo chamber in any case.  I’ll still cover blogging when it’s relevant, but will make an effort to extend beyond the subject where possible.

Maybe I’ll put my RSS reader down for a couple of days and invest some of that saved time into trying to enable my TrackBack system for the fifth time…


Written by Tom Murphy

April 7, 2005 at 9:22 am

Posted in General

A bunny is not just for Easter…

Well well well, UK PR gossip mongerer Spin Bunny* has been shut down. I’m not involved in the UK PR scene but I must admit I enjoyed Spin Bunny’s critical reviews of the various goings on.

The sad thing is that this was inevitable.  Spin Bunny was making fun of the world’s most control-centric business, eventually one of the firms was going to take action and as usual they’ve used the legal system to cloak their identity.

More from DrewB, Neville HobsonStuart Bruce and the Bunny’s most amusing online adversary Chris Lewis – at least Chris engaged in dialogue unlike others I could mention.

* Don’t fret if the link doesn’t work, for some reason I could never get access to the site via the Web only through bloglines or my RSS reader.

Written by Tom Murphy

April 7, 2005 at 9:11 am

Posted in General

Not new, but notable…

I just realized that Allan Jenkins isn’t on my blogroll which is a major oversight.  Allan is a communication consultant in the beautiful city of Copenhagen and his blog a very worthwhile read.

Written by Tom Murphy

April 6, 2005 at 9:11 am

Posted in General

Mr. Emperor… I think you're in the nude…

Ephraim Schwartz over at Infoworld has an interesting column on blogging.  The column was inspired by a recent media alert from IT consulting firm, Sapient, where their CTO, Ben Gaucherin, was quoted in a media alert entitled �Blog tech doesn�t live up to blog talk, according to Sapient CTO.�

Now taking a contrary view is always good for column inches, and Mr. Gaucherin’s comments that “blogs are the digital equivalent of the pet rock” are certainly a welcome change to the prevalent view that blogs will take over the world.

Unfortunately for Mr. Gaucherin I think he’s missing the point a little.  If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that  I don’t believe that blogs will take over the world but I obviously don’t subscribe to Mr. Gaucherin’s view either.  As always in these situations the truth lie somewhere in the middle.

However, this pronouncement is a brave step in view of the potential backlash he may have to put up with, and in his defence we should all be re-examining the ‘new new thing’ on a regular basis to make sure we’re not lost in the Internet’s echo chamber.

So it’s not that the emperor is in the nude, it’s just his new clothes aren’t quite as impressive as he thinks….

Written by Tom Murphy

April 6, 2005 at 9:03 am

Posted in General

New and notable…

John Wagner, principal of Wagner Communications in Houston Texas has a new PR blog titled On Message.

Written by Tom Murphy

April 5, 2005 at 9:28 am

Posted in General

PR Misc – April 05, 2005

 A quick rant to begin the day.  I recently bought my first (and last) electronic book… just to clarify this, it is an electronic version of a widely published book, not to be confused with an e-book from an online publisher, I’ve actually bought a few of those books in the past and will again in the future.

I finally bought one of these damned books because I needed it fairly quickly.  I will never do it again. It’s a great example of how traditional industries (publishers, music etc.) are completely missing the point.  Their only reaction to the digital era is to sell products that are more inaccessible than their analog counterparts. The book in question could only be read using the very latest (and most bloated) version of Adobe Reader – which by the way includes loads of really useful nagware features.  The book’s copyright protection allows you to print 12 pages in any given week…. You can’t transfer it onto you PDA… Instead you’re forced to read it on your laptop and when the battery dies… Well so does your reading. 

Call me old fashioned but I personally prefer physical books and this experience has just re-affirmed my preferences. Publishers can clearly save money in distribution and production by selling electronic versions but instead they worry about pirates. They are flattering themselves.


 Jim Horton, lest we forget the grand daddy of all PR bloggers, continues to provide readers with fantastic, honest insights into the real world of PR.  He’s just published an article on writing for CEO’s and shock horror you can read it online with any copy of Adobe Reader, you can print it and you can even put it on your PDA.

Richard Bailey has some brief comments.


 Edelman and Intelliseek have published a fairly interesting whitepaper [Registration Required] on blogging. The report has been released in conjunction with a new blog directory for Edelman’s clients which details the most popular and influential bloggers in particular segments – I wonder how long before that gets posted on the InterWeb?

Interestingly their top three PR bloggers (as listed in the whitepaper) are Steve Rubel, Elizabeth Albrycht and Jeremy PepperNeville Hobson is also profiled, but in the “General B2B” category.  Thanks to Kevin Dugan for the link.


 Funniest PR blog post of the week so far goes to Steve Phenix on that bloody Power Girls program.

(As an aside, my blog numbers are doubling with Lizzie Grubman traffic from Google, so someone is clearly watching/enjoying it. If it get’s a second run I may even make the Edelman pitch list)


 While we’re on the subject of Edelman, the boss has a post entitled “Where have are all the cowboys gone” in which he bemoans the fact that Public Relations is being defined by the lowest common denominator, namely the UK’s Max Clifford or in the US Lizzie Grubman. I agree wholeheartedly with his sentiment, however there’s a interesting cultural nuance in his title.  In Ireland, “Cowboy” is slang for untrustworthy, incompetent professionals.  E.g. “I know I should have asked for some references but I didn’t expect the plumber to be a cowboy”.  So the European view is that there are too many PR cowboys….


 John Wagner takes Ragan to task over the assertion that there’s isn’t much compelling content available on blogs for corporate communicators.  You see I knew this blog stuff would eventually mirror traditional publishers!


 Jeremy Pepper has a great post on transparency.


 In the latest case of “Poacher turned Gamekeeper”, Mark Jen, the man made famous over getting fired (If you don’t know what I’m talking about a quick “search” is all you need) is now publishing the public Internet communications policy at Plaxo. Thanks to Matthew Podboy for the link.


 The latest release of the Hobson and Holtz report, episode 21, is now up and available for your iPod. Topics include some debate on podcasting, a new IABC blog and the Global PR Blog Week 2.0.

Written by Tom Murphy

April 5, 2005 at 9:13 am

Posted in General