Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for May 2005

Blogs and press rooms…

Steve Rubel‘s post regarding Google’s use of Blogger to run their press center reminded me that I meant to put together a short post on our experiences using blog software on the corporate website.

Late last year we decided to re-engineer the Cape Clear News & Events section using a blogging platform.

The main reason for moving to a blog was that we didn’t already use a content management system and as a result any press releases, events, awards etc. had to be posted manually.

In addition, blog software gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of publishing content and autogenerating that content elsewhere in the site.  Finally it automatically generates RSS feeds which can be offered to visitors to the site.

The new section was launched in January and over the past four months it has been working without any major problems. Of course it doesn’t look like a blog to the unitiated but as you navigate around the different sections there are some hints.

The major lessons we have learned are:

1) You need to find specific expertise in the design and implementation stage.  We used Moveable Type as our web content team had the expertise which made the process releatively straightforward. But there’s a lot of testing required, particularly in terms of how posts will look, formatting issues etc.

2) One of the biggest problems is migrating the content.  It can be quite labor intensive moving a lot of content into the new system.  An alternative is to archive previous content on the web server, but we were committed to migrating everything to Moveable Type – that took time.

3) Obviously if you are not already offering visitors to your site RSS feeds then blog software gives you an immediate solution.  We’ve been offering feeds for a long time (we produce them manually) and we aren’t using the blog to auto-generate them at this point as we’re investigating alternative ways to deliver RSS feeds that could also provide us with better measurement such as Nooked.

4) Training for the unitiated is essential.  The Moveable Type system is fairly straightforward but it’s useful to provide users a little training to help people understand basic HTML and how the various publishing options work.

5) The collaborative nature of the blog platform means that you may have a host of different people posting content.  To minimize any potential problems I’d recommend you put in place clear, agreed procedures for publishing content.

The project has already been a major success.  It’s provided us with additional flexibility and reduced the time involved in getting content online.

We’re currently looking at how Moveable Type can be used in other areas of the site. If you want any more information, let me know.

Written by Tom Murphy

May 31, 2005 at 9:01 am

Posted in General

PR Miscellany – May 30, 2005 (Updated)

Memorial day in the US and Spring Holiday in the UK which will mean a quieter day than usual in the blog cloud…

 Tim Jackson is a student of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in the UK.  As part of his coursework he is conducting an online study exploring blogging and public relations. The deadline for the survey is June 03, 2005. Why not participate by clicking here – it only takes a couple of minutes.

 Our pre-eminent Australian PR blogger, Trevor Cook, of Corporate Engagement PR blog fame, has launched a new site: ‘Blogging and Podcasting in Australia‘ with loads of related stories, opinions, links and content. 

 David Parmet points to an interesting opinion piece by Jonathan Carson, CEO of Buzz Metrics on why PR agencies should own word of mouth iniatives. He’s right on two fronts.  Firstly that word-of-mouth should be a key element of Public relations, and secondly that PR is not taking ownership of these emerging disciplines…..

 

 

 Speaking of word of mouth, Hans Kullin makes a very good point on the potential of blogs to highlight poor customer service. 

 

 Don Crowther looks at that most annoying element of Public Relations… dealing with prima donnas.

 

 The MS&L blog has details on their (in conjunction PR Week) 2005 Marketing Management Survey. Among the findings are that:

  • PR has made enormous strides “in dealing with audience fragmentation using such tools as influencers, the web, and in particular, blogs.”
  • Marketers continue to look at alternatives to traditional advertising, and PR is taking a bigger role in helping companies find those alternatives — quickly.

I have to say that those findings surprise me… 

 

You can download the report (PDF) here.

 

 Stuart Bruce points to an article in the UK Observer newspaper by John Naughton that takes a (thankfully) measured look at the intersection of blogging and journalism without the usual claptrap about blogs ending the world as we know it.

 

“Blogging won’t wipe out journalism, for the simple reason that journalism requires skills and resources that bloggers will never have. But it will improve the practice of our trade. I don’t expect that Pulitzer-winning Dave will like this prospect much. But he’ll just have to get used to it.”

 The latest installment of Bacon’s Expert PR newsletter in on-line with articles on presentations, writing skills and a variety of magazine profiles.

 The latest issue of RLM PR‘s Full Frontal Report newsletter is out.

Note:

I get sent e-mail newsletters which aren’t posted online or worse the online archive is a couple of months behind the current issue.  If you’re hoping that a blogger or other outlet will pick-up on one of your stories you must post it online (for the love of Jebus).

Written by Tom Murphy

May 30, 2005 at 10:10 am

Posted in General

PR Miscellany – May 27, 2005

 The Council of PR Firms has released some upbeat research on the state of the industry.

 Andrew Smith looks at the problems around the time honored tradition of time sheet PR, while Tim Dyson suggests some possible alternative approaches, based on value and results.

 Alice Marshall has some useful links if you’re research trade shows.

 Infoworld‘s Matt McAlister wonders aloud about how the effects of RSS may impact online readership.

 Steve Rubel points to a thoughful article by Kevin Maney of USA Today on the current fervour around blogging.

 Rob Fisher over at PR Newswire has an interesting report on a recent forum on the intersection of blogs and journalism with Tony Perkins of AlwaysOn (nee Red Herring), Dan Gillmor and David Whelan of Forbes.

 The Hobson and Holtz Report has released a podcast interview with Mike Wing, VP of Strategic Communications at IBM.

 Meanwhile, Neville Hobson has been recently interviewed by PR Week on the subject of podcasting.

 Speaking of IBM, James Snell (of corporate blog guidelines fame)  was kind enough to get in touch with me to suggest a possible cause of my lost weblog posts.  Which is more than can be said of Radio’s “support” where I have yet to recieve any answers – and you have to pay for this product!  For any other Radio users out there, if you’re running Google software, be careful.

 Phil Gomes takes a refreshingly different take at the recent “alarm:clock-PR agencies are useless” episode. He draws a most amusing analogy between a small company with limited news value desiring outlandish media placements with his own desire for a date with Salma Hayek.

“To the degree that I would have to plan in order to achieve the goal of a date with Ms. Hayek, so too does successfully engaging the business press require significant preparation on the part of any startup or enterprise seeking coverage in those high-profile and highly coveted outlets. For one thing (and there are many gating factors), some folks in the business press won’t even touch a private company unless there has been significant coverage in the scientific, trade, and enthusiast media first. And, yes, engaging those outlets, in turn, requires a very significant amount of planning and preparation as well.”

 Jim Horton, as ever shares some honest thoughts on the daily challenges facing PR people everywhere.  Jim quietly tackles some of the major issues facing PR practitioners and is a recommended read.  Two recent posts to have a look at:
1) Can you save a client from themselves?
2) Web-centric communications [PDF]

 Harry Joiner has an interesting post on PR and the Internet.   He points to a primer [PDF] from Robin Mayhall  (Thanks to Andy Lark for the link)

 Michael O’Connor Clarke brings us his fourth installment of “The Seven Deadly Agency Types” with ‘The Flack of All Trades’.

 Michael also continues his coverage of the large organizations attempting to control the news agenda through their advertising dollars.  I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that a company that makes it’s business flogging disapearing fossil fuels with no alternative in sight should be trying to hold onto out-dated values.

 

Written by Tom Murphy

May 27, 2005 at 11:25 am

Posted in General

So PR is dead? Oh sorry so it's dying? Oh it's changing…

There’s far too much blog-related navel gazing. There’s so much of itthat there’s a chance that the intelligent, passionate people who zealously promote the benefits of blogs may end up sitting forlornly on a little raft in the bay watching the world go past.

Shel Israel and Robert Scoble‘s chapter for their new book Naked Conversations on Survivial of the Publicists has been widely dissected in my absence, so I don’t intend to reproduce the analysis when (as you can see from the links below) there has already been some detailed commentary.

The chapter is a very interesting read, but rather than tackling where the blog sits in the grand PR architecture, it’s more of an evangelical article that uses some interesting case studies.  I think for that reason alone it is a recommended read for all PR practitioners.

The flaw in the thesis however is that it rehashes the age-old criticisms of PR and presents blogs as the answer to all our ills.

The move towards conversations between individuals and organizations has been inevitable for some time now.  Due credit should be given to the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto (now stop groaning) who have probably done more to bring this trend to the mainstream than any other group.  Their work has been supplemented by people like Dan Gillmor and of course the emergence of blogging.

But blogging is not the answer to every question.  It is a useful tool that provides a lot of benefits to those willing to commit the time, energy and resources to it.  But it’s not an end in itself.

Public Relations is changing.  But the breadth of the profession means that those change go far beyond blogs.  Do people really think that:

a) PR is dying
b) PR will only center on blogging

If you do, you need to up your dosage.

These are simplistic arguments.

Communications is a multi-faceted undertaking.  When e-mail became popular, organizations got lazy and started driving all their internal communications on it.  They soon learnt through bitter experience that the fastest, easiest and cheapest option, isn’t necessarily the most effective one. Most organizations have now adopted new technologies alongside their exisiting tools.  Don’t forget that face-to-face communication remains the most effective tool in the communications box.

I have been blogging for three years, I pitch blogs, I read RSS, I publish RSS.  I have adopted these technologies but they are only one element of my job. 

Public Relations is about effective communication with an audience.  Do we really think that a time will come when the only way people get information is from blogs? 

PR is changing because the audience is changing.  Any practitioner who fails to move with their audience is in trouble.  Blogs are an important new tool and is a part of those changes, but beware the doomsayers who believe that the are the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything is blogging. As any Douglas Adams fan can tell you it’s actually 42. 

Footnote:

 

Written by Tom Murphy

May 27, 2005 at 10:51 am

Posted in General

New….

Cindy Sullivan from PR analysis firm Cymfony was in touch concerning their new blog: Cymfony’s Marketing Insights.

Written by Tom Murphy

May 27, 2005 at 9:32 am

Posted in General

..and finally I'd like to thank Tim Berners-Lee without whom…

MarketingSherpa has launched it’s 2005 marketing/PR blog awards survey.

The shortlist for the top PR blogs are:

Two other PR blogs have also been nominated in the imaginitively named: ‘Blogs in other languages’ category, namely:

Vote for your favorite now

Written by Tom Murphy

May 27, 2005 at 9:30 am

Posted in General

Hello?

It’s been a little quiet up here this week for loads of different reasons that I won’t bore you with. 

Hopefully I’ll return with a vengeance in the next day or so….

Written by Tom Murphy

May 26, 2005 at 5:04 pm

Posted in General