Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for January 2006

Call: Charities using blogs

I gave a talk on new media last night and afterwards I was asked about how charities are using blogs for communication. I have to admit it’s not something I have a lot of exposure to, and a brief look through my favorite search engine* brought lots of links to charities involved in Katrina relief but not a lot on general charities who have blogs.

If you’re aware of a list or directory – or even some good examples let me know. Thanks in advance.

*That is MSN of course 🙂

Written by Tom Murphy

January 24, 2006 at 10:05 am

Posted in General

Mixed findings from European PR blog survey

Philip Young has posted some details on the initial findings of the Euroblog 2006 survey which looked at how blogs are influencing PR around the region. The survey included over 500 respondents and found that 31 percent of respondents said they regularly write or contribute to weblogs with 26 percent saying they never do and only 4 percent having never heard of blogs. In addition 32 percent said they don’t plan to use blogs at all.

The report’s key findings will be published later today at the Euroblog website.

Anecdotally these figures seem high to me, I think that if you took the entire PR population of Europe there would be a lot more than 4 percent who hadn’t heard of blogs. At a talk I gave last night in Cork (mix of students and practitioners) around ten percent had heard of blogs. However, I’m looking forward to digging into the detail as it appears and without doubt it’s a very useful piece of work.

Written by Tom Murphy

January 24, 2006 at 8:03 am

Posted in General

Mind your PR pitches…

Kevin Dugan has been in touch to tell me about a new PR blog he’s created with Richard Laermer. It’s called the Bad Pitch Blog.

In their own words:

“We’re tired of the public relations industry taking the blame for a minority of its members that pollute communication channels with bad pitches, poorly written news releases and useless phone calls asking “did you get the release?”

So we’re outing the guilty parties in full view of the highly-networked blogosphere. It’s our hope that the Bad Pitch blog will entertain the true victims of this practice, the PR industry, and it will help the guilty parties improve. Hopefully the blog will someday become obsolete.”

Written by Tom Murphy

January 23, 2006 at 9:11 am

Posted in General

The emergence of the blog caste system

I have thought long and hard about writing this post. I have mixed feelings about the importance or lack thereof of the subject matter, but after mature reflection I’ve decided to write it.

These days I get an increasing number of e-mails each week from people wondering how they can build an audience for their blog, how can they build relationships with the hundreds of practitioners all over the globe who are already blogging.

I always try and give the same advice. Focus first and foremost on what you want to write about. Read other blogs. Comment on stories that interest you. Get in touch with bloggers who you think might be interested in something you’ve written – but target them carefully. Finally develop a thick skin. You may not get a response, or someone may take exception to your point of view. It doesn’t matter. (I apologize in advance when sometimes I can be a little slow replying though I do try and reply to everyone).

Since March 2002 I’ve always welcomed people to get in touch and let me know if they’ve started a new PR blog. There’s no braintrust here, no one has the patent on good thinking. And more interestingly the nature and beauty of blogs is that the world’s most popular PR blog might not yet have even been created.

I’ve always found a strong and valuable kinship amongst the PR blogging community. Yes there are disagreements and the odd time people throw their rattles out of their respective prams but by and large it’s a useful, interesting, fast-growing and diverse global network –as it should be.

This is why Steve Rubel’s post took me a little by surprise. First things first, Steve has done a fantastic job of building his blog into the unquestioned number one PR-associated blog. He has done this through his hard work, his dedication and his passion. No one should begrudge that – though I think some do.

I think with the benefit of hindsight that Steve’s post was badly written but as a communicator he should have thought how it would appear to the casual observer. It upset people and however unintential the post comes across as the digital equivalent of don’t hate me because I’m beautiful – and I don’t think that’s Steve’s style.

Of course he should have just said “look I am getting shed loads of e-mail and while I try and get through it all, sometimes I won’t be able to reply to everyone”. That was the correct answer.

However leaving Steve aside for one moment, it’s a good illustration of a disturbing trend among the more popular bloggers.

They start looking for links from other bloggers as they start off. They preach the gospel of blogging, they write great parables about the religion of communication, the zeal of conversation – and then all of a sudden they arrive and they’ll no longer take direct communication – “talk to one of the lower class bloggers, and if it’s interesting I’ll cover it.”

As we say in Ireland, what a load of my arse.

Either get involved and accept the responsibilities of having a popular blog or stop. If you want to author something without the responsibility for conversation then publish a book – without any contact information.

Blogs are about communication and conversation, if you no longer want to play by those rules then you are no longer playing in the blog land.

Written by Tom Murphy

January 17, 2006 at 8:56 am

Posted in General

Foxy Loxy said: "Come along with me, and I will show you the way."

Tom Foremski’s post last week on the pending disruption facing PR provoked some thoughts.

First on the post itself… Reading the article, it struck me that while Tom has an illustrious career in journalism and therefore a lot of experience working with PR people, and he has clearly been working closely with PR firms in the valley, he seems to have little real understanding of the inner workings of the PR business and more importantly why organizations retain the services of a PR firm or a consultant.

While media relations continues to be a significant, and high profile part of Public Relations, it is only one of many components of modern PR, from strategic advice, analyst relations and internal communications to community affairs and the list goes on and on. Therefore tying PR’s fortunes exclusively to the media is a little simplistic for my tastes. Yes when the media melt down took place with the Internet crash PR was effected, but it wasn’t just the media crash that effected PR it was the fact that all those start-ups (and that revenue) disappeared.

PR is all about communicating effectively with an audience. PR people can add real value to companies by helping them understand how to communicate effectively and by understanding the right “media” to use – whether that is journalists, blogs, search engines or anything else.

Tom makes a good point that PR doesn’t drive sales – or should I say PR people have never done a good job of communicating how PR can help the sales process. But then should PR be only about sales? We should do a better job of connecting the dots, but this isn’t telesales or field sales. PR operates on a whole range of different levels in the sales process from awareness, education, lead generation and cognitive dissonance.

Where I do agree with Tom is that there are changes taking place, but the mainstream PR business is not going to give way to some shiny new profession – that’s unrealistic. Instead the PR business will expand its service offerings to meet clients’ new needs. There will be changes, but make no mistake, PR isn’t going anywhere. Communication with an audience remains as important – if not more important as the media fragments.

The challenge for all of us, is to understand how to most effectively reach and communicate with an audience. That’s where the focus needs to be.

Written by Tom Murphy

January 17, 2006 at 8:31 am

Posted in General

From around the PR-sphere…

I realize I don’t do this as often as I used to, however here’s a selection of some interesting PR-related links and reading…

  • John Wagner poses an interesting question: Have PR firms recognized and adapted to the changes taking place all around us.

  • Michael Arrington at Techcrunch offers some tips to avoid messing up your tech product launch.
    [Via Mason Cole]
    There’s also a really interesting post (read the comments) where Mike shares an e-mail he got from the CEO of a start-up he didn’t cover, the CEO gets involved and gets a positive outcome. The power of conversation in action.

  • Tom Foremski ponders whether we will see a major shake up in the PR business as we have seen in the media. It’s an interesting post and one that deserves some thought. Morgan McLintic and Steve Rubel share their own thoughts.

  • Jim Horton wonders aloud if we should out PR spammers to teach them a lesson.
    Shel Holtz has some thoughts on the practice.

  • Speaking of Shel, For Immediate Release the weekly PR podcast he puts together with Neville Hobson has broken through a century of installments – a fantastic achievement! Of course these boys don’ sit on their laurels and issue 101 and 102 are already out.

  • Jeremy wonders do we know where PR is going?

  • Well done to Stephen Davis for snagging an internship at Lewis PR. While he credits his blog for the internship (and it helped) he’s too bashful to mention that it helped that he’s an intelligent, motivated person – just having a blog isn’t enough – and credit also to Morgan McLintic for his assistance.

  • Amy Gahran posts an interesting piece on re-thinking the humble press release. And as an added bonus the words ‘is’ ‘press’ ‘dead’ and ‘release’ don’t appear in any order.

  • Sharyl Attkisson at CBS shares the most popular ways PR people have tried to kill a story.
    [Courtesy of Andy Lark]

  • Charles Arthur at the UK Guardian points out that PR people still don’t get it.

  • The Core Issues blog gives some good advice on why trying to bury bad news on a Friday (for public companies) isn’t necessarily a great idea.

  • Shel Israel thinks that start-ups may be better off with a PR Firm. I think it’s a little dangerous to make such rash generalizations – after all – many successful start-ups have succeeded because of great PR. PR doesn’t just mean media relations – nor does it have to cost half your entire operations budget….

  • Philip Young points to research which found that only 2 out of 10 senior business people write their own blogs. I can’t help thinking that in most cases a corporate blog written by the individual concerned would be more successful.

  • DrewB has found some research which estimates there are now 15,000 corporate blogs.

  • Mason Cole makes a great point that we shouldn’t focus on the tool but rather what we’re saying and how we’re saying it. Sometimes..

There’s a load of new blogs, as usual Constantin is the blog of record for PR blog lists, here are some I’ve found:

Written by Tom Murphy

January 16, 2006 at 3:08 pm

Posted in General

Off Topic: A smile for the weekend…

A nice story to put a smile on your face for the weekend. [Courtesy of Phil Gomes]

Written by Tom Murphy

January 13, 2006 at 2:52 pm

Posted in General

Know your documents

While your author has been surprised at the rapid rate of adoption of blogging among the PR community, every couple of months we still come across a case that highlights that PR people still can’t use the most basic technology effectively.

The latest case is from the Irish Stock Exchange, which sent out a press statement on the largest insider dealing case in the history of the exchange. The first mistake was they sent it as an attachment and the second was that they didn’t check the document for tracked changes. While most of the edits were mundane there were apparently some juicy positioning tidbits towards the end. Of course I have to point out that (ahem) upgrading to the latest version of Microsoft Word reduces that risk and secondly some rudimentary computer training might also negate the same risk.

More on tracked changes:

Written by Tom Murphy

January 13, 2006 at 11:28 am

Posted in General