Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for July 2005

Analyst Relations Extra…

Following yesterday’s post on changes to Gartner’s Magic Quadrants, ARmadgeddon has posted some thoughts.

While we’re on the subject of analysts, Alice Marshall points to research firm CMS Watch who cover the content management and enterprise search markets. They guarantee vendor neutral research and advice by their committment:

To retain our independence as a vendor-neutral analyst firm, CMS Watch works solely for solutions buyers and never for the vendors we cover.

It’s an interesting departure. Research Firms would be well advised to re-evaluate their business models and how well those models are serving their customers – be they end-users or vendors.

In the past,James Governor at research firm Red Monk proposed the idea of Open-Source Research.

Written by Tom Murphy

July 7, 2005 at 10:55 am

Posted in General

Changes to Gartner's Magic Quadrant

For anyone working in technology PR, who is involved in analyst relations, Duncan Chapple has some interesting analysis of some recent changes to the process behind Gartner’s Magic Quadrant (MQ).

For the unitiated, Gartner’s Magix Quadrant is probably one of the most stressful events in the Analyst Relations calendar as it positions every major vendor against their competitors in their specific market category.

When the MQ is released it is usually followed by heated discussions among 80% of the vendors who are unhappy with their position on the quadrant.

The new changes are to be welcomed, however I think it’s only fair to point out that:

  • Many Gartner analysts strongly dislike the whole Magic Quadrant process – they believe that most markets are too complex and fragmented to support a simple matrix representation.
  • From Gartner analysts I’ve talked to, they feel under a lot of pressure from their clients to publish them – often if they had a choice they wouldn’t do it.
  • I have to say I found Gartner to be very open and fair in their discussions around the last Magc Quadrant I was involved with – though obviously that can differ between analysts.

More on the Magic Quadrant changes from Armadgeddon and Gartner Watch.

Written by Tom Murphy

July 6, 2005 at 1:40 pm

Posted in General

Why a career in PR?

Someone asked me over the weekend would I recommend a career in Public Relations. I immediately said yes, but when they asked for specific reasons why, I actually had to stop and think about it.

Our profession is widely misunderstood and often mistrusted, I thought it might be a useful exercise to pool our thoughts on why PR offers a rewarding (or not) career.

I’ve penned some themes below, please feel free to add your thoughts and questions in the comments section or e-mail me them for a subsequent post. After all good communication starts at home!

A career in PR is challenging. It’s challenging because the work you’ll be doing changes from day to day or even from hour to hour. You can move from writing a speech to pitching the media to dealing with a full blown crisis in a couple of hours. While the constant change can be stressful it’s also invigorating.

The ranges of skills you need to hone to be a successful practitioner are broad. You need to be a great listener, a skilled communicator, a great writer and most importantly be able to think quickly and clearly, making decisions on the fly. The fact that all these skills are used and required on a daily basis makes for an intellectually challenging career.

PR transcends market- and geographic barriers. It is practiced in every single country on the planet and it is practiced in every market sector in those countries.

The differences in PR practiced in different markets are often marked. For example the daily responsibilities and tasks of a practitioner in the fashion or entertainment business compared to someone working in manufacturing or business-to-business technology market are often polar opposites. This means that the profession attracts a wide diversity of personalities. I’ve had the good fortune to meet with practitioners in different industries and countries and while their jobs are often markedly different to mine there are many common elements that bring us together.

The fantastic thing about this diversity is that regardless of your interests there is probably an area of PR suited to your skills.

Related to the last point, the people attracted to the world of PR vary from star-struck fashionistas to accounting majors. There is an amazing diversity of people, but for the most part, regardless of the industry or geography I’ve always been impressed with them. Like any profession there are those who bring it into disrepute – and in PR those practitioners are often high profile – but 99% of practitioners are impressive people and professionals.

One of the most refreshing elements of Public Relations is re-education. PR is a dynamic profession, it’s always changing. Our audiences change and as a result we must respond. This constant drive to map changing attitudes, behaviors and habits is invigorating. You simply never stop learning.

Finally, when you’ve done a good job, the planets are aligned and your zodiac is balanced there is a fantastic sense of achievement when a campaign comes off successfully. I still hear people talking about the buzz of success. You can’t get that in every job.

So there are some initial reasons why I’d recommend a job in Public Relations.

Of course it’s not all wine and roses. It is hard work and it doesn’t necessarily get any easier. It can require long hours, it’s regularly stressful and you are often dealing with elements that are out of your control. But even taking that into account, PR is a rewarding, invigorating career choice. As a raw marketing graduate my perception of PR was all “Absolutely Fabulous” I wanted nothing to do with it. Fourteen years later I can only smile at my ignorance. I was lucky that I fell into it.

Written by Tom Murphy

July 6, 2005 at 8:59 am

Posted in General

Update on Corporate blogging

Further to my post on corporate blogging yesterday, Chris Thilk suggests some additional tips on corporate blogging.

Meanwhile, EDS have kicked off a new corporate blog called “EDS’ Next Big Thing Blog” where EDS Fellows discuss new technological developments. As part of the exercise they have also included a number of guidelines for readers outlining their approach to the blog. These include:

  • We will tell the truth.
  • We will review all comments for content before they are posted.
  • We will try to respond to comments as fast as possible.
  • We will link to all of our online resources directly.
  • We will respect your comments and disagree with them where appropriate.

[Thanks to BL Ochman for the link]

Written by Tom Murphy

July 6, 2005 at 8:18 am

Posted in General

Corporate blog realism…

Morgan McLintic recently wrote about an enterprise software firm who were canning their corporate blog because they didn’t have time to publish stories every day. Morgan counselled him that:

“The point I made to him is that a corporate blog doesn’t need constant maintenance and daily posts. Just regular updates as and when the company has something new to announce or when there’s a specific topic it has a fresh opinion about. He felt that to be valid the blog had to be a destination news site which visitors would return to regularly. Instead, all it really needs to do is provide an additional channel of communication. If you haven’t got anything to say – don’t open your mouth.”

It’s an interesting point. As the number of corporate blogs grow there needs to be some clear planning in what you are hoping the blog will achieve – and part of that is some realism regarding how many readers you will attract and how long it will take.

Corporate blogs are about communication
There are a host of reasons why you (or your clients) should look at the possibility of publishing a corporate blog. But besides benefits like search engine optimization and becoming a reference for the media, the first objective of the corporate blog must be focused on building a new and often more effective communication channel with your audience(s).

To ignore this single primary objective will adversely effect your blogging efforts.

It takes time
Building an audience for a corporate blog takes time – and as more blog appear it will likely take longer. Build a realistic promotion plan around your corporate blog. Promote it via your website, promote the content via your newsletters and e-mail signatures and reach out to other blogs, journalists etc. where relevant. By all means measure the success of your blog but be realistic.

Measure it
Blogs provide a range of measurement tools, use them. Measure visitors, RSS traffic, in-bound links etc. These are great indicators into how well the blog is communicating and attracting an audience.

The single most critical piece to a corporate blog is the content. Everyone has opinions, use those opinions to provide context to your market. You don’t have to be funny, witty or even controversial (though sometimes all three help), but you do have to provide honest first person perspectives. If visitors are getting value and information from the blog, they’ll keep coming back.

The most common stress I see associated with corporate blogs is the perceived need for new posts every day. That is a misnomer. The important thing is that you establish a regular pattern of entries. For example, Richard Edelman posts just once a week. It works because people know he only posts once a week. Yet while the rest of the PR mice (me included) are scuttling around firing posts out, Edelman’s blog is probably the most widely read (with the exception of Mr. Rubel).

The key is establishing how often you won’t blog :-). Also with the growing adoption of RSS, people can subscribe and be alerted when you’ve posted an item making concerns about the volumes of posts less important.

Make it interactive
Corporate blogs provide a great opportunity to engage your audience in conversation. Too many blogs don’t solicit comments or feedback. Look at ways your blog can engage with visitors. Run competitions, propose new product functionality and ask for feedback. These are all useful interactive activities that will help build an audience.

The key point here is that corporate blogs are a fantastic resource when used in a realistic manner. Put together a plan for your blog. Establish realistics goals and resources both internally (number of posts etc.) and externally (number of readers etc.) and measure your progress.

If all you are doing is using your blog as a surrogate press release distribution mechanism, I wouldn’t bother.

Written by Tom Murphy

July 5, 2005 at 10:36 am

Posted in General

PR Miscellany – July 5, 2005

  • Keith Jackson points to a recent speech given by Professor James Post of Boston University to Australia’s Centre for Corporate Public Affairs on “Governance and the Stakeholder Corporation”. It’s a very very interesting talk with a whole range of themes that are relevant for any PR practitioners. Print it and read it…
  • Mark Borkowski points to an interesting profile of Bernard Doherty, the PR practitioner behind Live 8.
  • The world of PR podcasts is growing nicely. Hot on the heels of Steve Rubel‘s first podcast, Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson have released podcast #47.

Written by Tom Murphy

July 5, 2005 at 9:37 am

Posted in General

PR Miscellany – July 4, 2005

Happy fourth of July!

Couple of interesting stories to report:

  • Long time tech journalist and industry curmedgeon John Dvorak[blog] took time out at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco last week to fire a broadside at PR. In a generally critical interview about Sun, it transpired a pre-arranged meeting for Dvorak with Scott McNealy was cancelled by Sun’s PR folks and he was clearly not impressed. About 22 minutes into the interview he let’s rip with some of the usual stereotypes:

    “When the CEO gives up his manhood to some squirly PR person whose intimidating everyone and lording it over everyone like she’s the big expert because she worked for one of the agencies for two years, is a pathetic indictment.”

    [Fast connection required]

  • Steve Rubel [blog] has launched his first podcast.
    It’s just over twelve minutes and provides some opinions on RSS and blogs as well as addressing some recent criticisms. A worthy download to get your week started.
  • Piaras Kelly reports that the BBC have released editorial guidelines for its financial journalists. They have also published guidelines on conflicts of interest.
  • John Cass and Backbone Media have released the findings of a recent blogging survey which included responses from over 800 people. The report includes both quantative results (59% of respondent bloggers had been contacted by the media and most of the bloggers were over 30) and qualitative results including interviews with a number of companies who are already blogging.
    It also includes some interesting results on why companies start blogs and what kind of return they are getting from the investment.

Written by Tom Murphy

July 4, 2005 at 3:16 pm

Posted in General

Welcome to a new look PR Opinions

Well after a lot of hard work, Internet searches and tweaking, I’ve finally managed to migrate the PR Opinions blog to Moveable Type.

I’ve left all the old blog entries online for two reasons. Firstly to ensure I don’t break any incoming links and secondly because the import process from Radio Userland meant that many of the imported posts are formatted incorrectly.

I have a full index of all the old Radio Userland posts here. I’m still working through some teething issues, if you spot anything let me know!

Written by Tom Murphy

July 4, 2005 at 2:29 pm

Posted in General

PR Miscellany – July 1, 2005

Another day, another month and happy Canada day!

  • Ladies and gentlemen, another gentle reminder of the importance of search engine optimization in the realm of PR. Netimperative reports that two of the UK’s top five grocery brands have negative commentary in the top search results for their brands.
  • Shel Holtz [blog] is kicking off a list of business podcasts, meanwhile issue 46 of Shel and Neville Hobson’s [blog] PR podcast For Immediate Release is now available.
  • As widely reported elsewhere PR Week UK have a feature on blogging.
  • Here’s an interesting post that we’ve probably all felt like writing at one stage or another from the Peking Duck blog.

Written by Tom Murphy

July 1, 2005 at 9:56 pm

Posted in General