Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for June 2006

Housekeeping and Creative Commons

Greetings, just back from a much needed week’s vacation, so I’m currently fighting a backlog of e-mail, tasks, calls, messages, comment spam and RSS feeds. Normal service will resumed shortly.

In the meantime, one interesting announcement today is a free download (from my employer) that will enable you to add a Creative Commons license to your Word, PowerPoint or Excel document.

Well I thought it was interesting…

Written by Tom Murphy

June 21, 2006 at 3:31 pm

Posted in General

The press release is low fat and high fibre… and other links…

  • Jeremy Pepper is in Seattle this week, but unfortunately due to conflicting schedules it looks like we won’t be able to meet up. He reports on a very interesting story from Information Week that press releases have overtaken trade journals as a source of information for information workers – and without any XML I bet. Are you listening Tom Foremski?
  • Another senior agency blog. Frank Shaw, president of Waggener Edstrom has a blog.
  • Keith Jackson over at Trevor Cook’s Corporate Engagement blog shares the nine best practice indicators for effective issues management according to the Issue Management Council.
  • Charles Arthur of the UK Guardian shares some pointers on feature writing.[Thanks to Stuart]
  • Todd Defren has a great example of someone cutting off their nose to spite their face agency style… life is too short for this.

Written by Tom Murphy

June 8, 2006 at 3:00 am

Posted in General

Why the rush to the revolution?

Lauren Vargas takes me to task for my post on PR 2.0.

She believes that what’s required when it comes to PR, and the new brave world of online services, is a revolution:

“While tools may be evolving, a revolution in the communicator’s mindset must first occur. We do not have time for a gradual change of a communication professional’s thinking. Thinking is our problem! However ironic this might be for our creative industry. Part of the existing toolset is the mind and this needs an overhaul. Techniques/tools are a symptom manifested from our thinking. Scary concept.”

Mmmm. I’m still not buying.

The only thing that matters here is your audience. How is your audience finding, sharing and using information? Are they exclusively doing that all online? Maybe some very small sub-niches are doing that, but the majority are not… certainly not yet.

Life is rarely that simple. People still read newspapers, still listen to the radio, watch TV, talk with friends etc. Why are we in such a hurry to throw all that away for the online alternative?

I don’t buy it.

For some PR practitioners there is an increasing online element, for others it’s very limited.

If we can agree that successful communication is about the audience, and I am assuming we can, then our focus should be on building better insights into how those audiences want to communicate. It’s about being pragmatic about how we communicate, whether that is in townhall meetings, direct mail, media relations, face-to-face, by telephone, e-mail, instant messaging – whatever.

Talk of a revolution reminds me of the boom, and the boom failed because people thought of revolution rather than evolution.

Let’s all relax. Let’s focus on getting a better understanding of how our audiences want to communicate and then let’s focus on doing that well.

Rushing off to the shiny new new thing isn’t the answer. Effective, pragmatic communication is all about taking the best of what we have and merging that with best practice online. I realize that this may not by sexy, cool, hip or ground breaking, but it’s likely to be far more effective. That’s what pays the bills.

Written by Tom Murphy

June 6, 2006 at 7:16 am

Posted in General

A tired little posting…

  • Currently in Seattle for the second time in as many weeks. That flight from Copenhagen (where I fly backwards for two hours before I start) isn’t getting any shorter… Used the flight to catch up on my PR podcast listening. There’s a lot of great content out there. [For Immediate Release, Phil Gomes’ earShot, Inside PR, Across the Sound, Spinfluencer, and that’s just a few…] Get listening….
  • You know Colin McKay’s post would be very funny if it wasn’t so close to the bone. Which do you identify with?
  • Given the continuing, and many would say increasing importance of the written word, I’m always on the look out for interesting content whether it’s the fantastic Eats, Shoots & Leaves, or Bill Bryson’s Made in America. Ilja van Roon has brought together his writing experiences into one tome which is available for free download.
  • PC World has published a list of the worst twenty five technology products of all time. Though as Jim Horton reminds us, behind every bad product is an enthusiastic PR person!
  • One of my alma maters, Text 100 now has a blog edited by Georg Kolb, well they’ve had it since last October but I’ve only just found it. Sad times when you can’t even make the blogroll at a former employer, though like Aedhmar’s they seem to be going for the jet set.
  • Finally everyone keeps asking me for a list of the Web 2.0 products and services I use to remain at the cutting edge of blogging, PR 2.0, Web 2.1 (2.0 is so yesterday)… no I’m lying, no one has asked, however since I see more and more people writing these ridiculous posts as if they’re gatekeepers to a secret underworld I had to write this paragraph. It’s interesting that none of them have included Kool-Aid in their lists… I think this paragraph probably confirms which of Colin McKay’s categories I fit into.

Written by Tom Murphy

June 5, 2006 at 5:35 am

Posted in General

File under 'review press release writing process'

There’s a lot of talk about the death of press releases, new formats for press releases, press releases in XML, with RSS… it’s enough to send you back to the typewriter.

Leave the press release alone. If we get rid of it we’ll never have these wonderful stories.

The Bad Pitch Blog has a doozy about a Greenpeace press release where they left a reference for a future proof point. Unfortunately no one removed the reference (or replaced it with the salient fact) before it hit the wires. So it read:

“In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world’s worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE].”

Oh dear.

PS: I really wish Kevin would stop using that ugly dog… uurrghh..

Written by Tom Murphy

June 3, 2006 at 11:26 pm

Posted in General

Agreeing to agree and disagree… the PR big bang

Brian Oberkirch has a very well written post titled “Why your big agency won’t get social media”.

I found myself nodding in agreement through most of the post.

I agree with the vast majority of Brian’s points such as:

  • There are new tools emerging that will impact communications – CHECK
  • Consumer behaviour is changing along with their expectations – CHECK
  • The ‘churn and burn’ agency model is unsustainable – CHECK – in fact it could be argued that the traditional PR agency production line model is at the heart of many of our profession’s ills… but that’s for another day

However, while I agree with many of his points, I still don’t agree with his conclusions.

I still don’t see this communications big bang happening. I still think we’ll see an evolutionary change.

Our business is changing – witness the growing number of in-house practitioners and sole traders – many refugees from the agency world. But I don’t believe that the world is or will change as quickly as many online gurus are projecting.

Instead I think it’ll take time and that will give everyone time to adapt and move on.

Of course I don’t know what the future holds (if I did I wouldn’t be writing for the likes of you) but that’s my guess.

Read Brian’s post. I think he has a lot of great points. And if there’s one thing we agree about. You can never stop learning….

Written by Tom Murphy

June 1, 2006 at 9:43 pm

Posted in General