Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for January 2007

Grumpy or Happy? You decide…

A couple of people have commented to me over the past few days that my posting recently has been, how do I say this, grumpy?

A cursory browse down this page does present evidence to support this assertion. But then my blogging style has always been grumpy 🙂

If anything is likely to set me off on a rant, it’s one of the ‘blue sky’ crowd going on about the subject of PR without ever having licked postage stamps for press release envelopes – or the digital equivalent – it’s been a while since I was in an agency – maybe it’s assembling digital clippings?

Anyhow I digress. 

I’m delighted to report that today something from the slogosphere has put a smile on my face.

Anyone who has spent time on the agency side can remember clients who couldn’t understand why journalists wouldn’t be interested in widget X. This was the painful end of the job and required education and understanding.

I thought it was incredibly insightful to see this post [Hat tip to Stuart, Phil] from blog supremo Robert Scoble.

For those too lazy to click, (really brief summary) Robert bemoans the fact that people, sites, “publications” failed to link to a video he produced… which according to him:

But the news of my videos isn’t WHAT was discussed in them, but rather the TOUR itself. I expect at least a few of Engadget’s readers would love to see the place where the chips inside many of their gadgets are made and hear from the people who make those chips directly instead of reading just something that sounds like a press release rewrite. Maybe that’s just me?

Spot the uneducated client?

A man who feels completely qualified to comment on social media releases, doesn’t understand PR lesson 101 – that the value of “media” is not that they publish what you say is newsworthy – their value is that they provide editorial process on all the “news” that’s taking place – as a service to their readers.

Just because you think something you’ve done is cool or newsworthy doesn’t mean it is, or that I have to bother my backside linking to it for that matter*.

Maybe now Robert will realize that there’s more to PR than sending a press release. Maybe he’ll tell his friends, and maybe they’ll stop acting like bold children.

Robert here’s some free advice: go talk to one of those silly PR people and get some advice. If blogs have to link to other blog posts just because people ask, there ain’t no value.

It made me smile anyhow… so for that we’re all grateful.

*I obviously realize that it’s unlikely that Mr. Scoble or his peers would want a link for this blog, so I use this example only for the purposes of illustration.

Written by Tom Murphy

January 30, 2007 at 8:26 am

Posted in General

Old media stuff…

As a follow on to my last post, here are a couple of examples of people thinking about integration rather than apocalypse when it comes to new and old media. 

This is where the interesting discussion is, not in statements with the words “old” “dead” Media” and “is”.

  • Gary Goldhammer has a great post on the challenges facing the LA Times and how they’re planning to address the online, offline differences.

WHETHER THIS SHIFT WILL give reporters more job security and help bring The Times into the 21st Century is a question we will see answered in public – or as the tired cliché goes, in “real time” (as opposed to what, fake time?) We will see the triumphs and the failures, the true innovations and, I hope, the leadership I expect from a newspaper that needs to convince itself there are more days ahead than behind.


  • Finally Brian Solis offers a guide to writing a social media release.



The beauty of the online world is the ability to find information, and for information to find you.  Here’s a great thoughful piece on the future of newspapers from Jon Harmon – added to the blogroll.

Written by Tom Murphy

January 28, 2007 at 8:34 pm

Posted in General

Unofficially the sky is not falling down…

Friends, readers, and PRs lend me your browsers.

I was recently reading my son the story “Chicken Licken”, I had forgotten that the ending is less fairy tale and more scary tale.

But there’s an interesting lesson.  Just because you believe something is true, it doesn’t automatically mean that it is, and you should be wary of the consequences of following that belief to the bitter end without taking a couple of breaths and looking around you.

There is a surfeit of Chicken Lickens all over the Internet. You can spot them quite easily.  They use words like “dead”, “doomed” and “stupid” quite a lot.  The real giveaway is when they use the phrase “they just don’t get it”. This particular doozy is normally invoked when someone doesn’t buy their rhetoric.

The other common trait among these little chicks is the liberal deployment of sweeping generalizations, as well as drawing questionable conclusions from a piece of evidence.

The latest brouhaha surrounded the social media release, this dragged up all the old Web 2.0’isms.. dead, death, PR people are stoopid etc.

Now Stowe Boyd has written a post entitled “Shel Holtz is the Perfect Example of PR Not Getting It”.  Which by simple extrapolation of course means that Mr. Boyd does “get it”.  He is a Web 2.0 visionary of course.

Shel Holtz is big enough and clever enough to fight his own corner.

But ladies and gentlemen, let me use Mr. Boyd’s post as an example of the hype and why you shouldn’t believe it.

Mr. Boyd has no understanding or experience of PR, but feels qualified to scold us all because we “don’t get it”. 

Let’s take one areas as an example.  He tells us that newspapers are “drastically diminshing”, indeed no other newspaper luminary than Warren Buffet has declared newspapers are dead….

Bit of hyperbole there Stowe? I’m sure from the top of the “always-on” ivory tower newspapers are not useful or relevant.  But here on planet earth newspapers are still incredibly important and influential.

Will there be changes in the newspaper business? Yes of course.  Will more people go online for news and opinion? Yes.  Will the newspaper business die in “Internet time”? Don’t be such a silly chicken. There will be re-adjustment, but it will be over time.

You see while you think PR people don’t “get it”, the real irony is that you don’t get it. You’re a little sore and confused because that acorn hit you so hard, but the reality is, the world continues.

We’re facing some exciting and interesting changes with the growing online world, with RSS, blogs, wikis, virtual worlds etc., but your belief that the revolution is coming, will only lead you into the fox’s den.  And there ain’t no way out of there, just ask Chicken Licken.

So let’s put the rattle back in the pram and have some interesting and insightful discussion on how we will see the merger of online and offline media, channels and tools and what this integrated world will mean for consumers. That’s the real piece of work that needs to happen.  Because that’s the real future.

Written by Tom Murphy

January 28, 2007 at 8:22 pm

Posted in General

Bringing new media along the path to adulthood…

There’s a lot of enthusiasm and passion around the wave of new online media tools.

The big question is: Do we know how these tools/channels will ultimately impact mainstream communication?

I believe the answer is not yet. 

I think that even though we’re seeing glimpses, we’re still some time from understanding the full impact of these technologies.  The emerging popularity of virtual worlds/Second Life technology is an example of how it’s continually developing and changing.

These technologies may utlimately look very different to how they look today.

One interesting step on the road to maturity is looking at the benefits they may offer organizations.  Steve Rubel has a post on a new methodology that has been created by Charlene Li at Forrester for measuring the return on investment from blogs. 

In Forrester’s interviews, the most frequently mentioned benefits of corporate blogging were: greater brand visibility in mainstream media on the Web, word of mouth, improved brand perception, instantaneous consumer feedback, increased sales efficiency and fewer “customer service-driven PR blowups.”

[Please note: Contrary to rumours around the InterWeb, I was not given an exclusive first, second or third look at the report].

You can read Charlene’s comments on the model here.


It’s good to see some analysis on blogging with respect to business.  It’s not a panacea but a good start.



For obvious reasons I rarely discuss issues regarding my employer on this blog. I don’t intend to deviate from that policy.  However, I have found the discussion from KamiScott and Stuart incredibly interesting – this is an additional and often overlooked element of “Web 2.0” for PR professionals representing small, medium and large organizations. It’s another example that we’re not mainstream just yet. 

Written by Tom Murphy

January 25, 2007 at 8:14 pm

Posted in General

Why the Press Release remains important….

Not to keep kicking the dead dog

Shel Holtz has a post on why, from a regulatory point of view, the press release isn’t dead. That’s a strong factual argument.

So let’s add some opinion.

The press release isn’t dead because it’s a well understood informational instrument that meets all regulatory requirements.

Huh? Let me explain.

If we can agree for one moment that good communication is about your audience. 


Then it’s the audience that matters.

When you’re designing a web site (how twentieth century) the commn mantra is think about your audience, understand what information they want, and make damn sure they can find it in the format they want or expect.

That’s why a press release is useful – yes I know they can be spam – yes I know they can be badly written – but they provide information in a common format that, in most cases, provide the same types of information.

I’ve nothing against the social media release, no harm in it.  But I’ll be sticking to press releases for a little while yet – even if it’s for informational rather than promotional purposes.

Written by Tom Murphy

January 25, 2007 at 8:27 am

Posted in General

Let's get back to real PR for a moment…

  • Keith Jackson points to an article by Ingrid Jackson (relation? no relation? undisclosed) that looks at communications around a real-world merger. Definetely worth a read.

The communications fundamentals during a merger revolve around stakeholder buy-in. But the communications requirement is much broader than this. It includes stakeholder analysis, issue identification, key messages, strategic and action planning, coordinating external and internal communications, project management, and responding tactically to often rapidly changing circumstances.


  • Richard Bailey ponders the issue of how do we capture the essence of PR.  He comes up with the terms Ideas Management.  I’ve always maintained that one of major issues facing PR’s image is the diversity of the profession (yes contrary to some discussion elsewhere I do consider myself a professional with a profession). It’s a tough one.


  • Edelman have released the findings of their Trust Barometer. OK let me be a little naughty here.  I don’t like to “social media release” – I much prefer the traditional format.  Sorry, I know I’m showing my age, maybe this is just a bad example but I much prefer the introductory paragraph that we all slaved over for hours and hours and framed the news. I know badly written releases are bad, but….


  • Morgan McLintic has been interviewed by Bulldog Reporter.  This item just about scrapes into this post about real PR due to all the Second Life references 🙂 .


  • Chris Anderson ponders the effect on the “Long Tail” on PR. Brian Solis adds his two cents. This is something I’ve written about before (here) I think it’s going to be increasingly important for companies in the long run, the challenge facing PR is how do you pitch a “Long Tail” service? I don’t agree with Mr. Anderson’s assertion of PR moving from external to internal relations because that’s making the assumption that blogs become the single point of communication for everyone – nah…

Written by Tom Murphy

January 25, 2007 at 8:15 am

Posted in General

Snap… I'm not looking for pretty pictures…

I really don’t like this new fashion for Snap previews.

What’s the value? I can see what the linked web page looks like? But I’m clicking for content not eye candy (from blogs in any case), and those pop ups are driving me mad.

Rant over

Written by Tom Murphy

January 25, 2007 at 7:51 am

Posted in General

Credit where its due: Second Life

That’s right, you’re not misreading the headline.  My favourite moose tickler set up the “Get a First Life” web page I referenced yesterday.

While reviewing his blog comments, he spotted a post from Linden Labs (creators of Second Life) and expected the usual cease-and-desist wording, instead they wrote this:

Moreover, Linden Lab objects to any implication that it would employ lawyers incapable of distinguishing such obvious parody. Indeed, any competent attorney is well aware that the outcome of sending a cease-and-desist letter regarding a parody is only to draw more attention to such parody, and to invite public scorn and ridicule of the humor-impaired legal counsel. Linden Lab is well-known for having strict hiring standards, including a requirement for having a sense of humor, from which our lawyers receive no exception.

In conclusion, your invitation to submit a cease-and-desist letter is hereby rejected.

Well done Linden Labs, common sense is a much maligned human quality.

Well done Darren.

Written by Tom Murphy

January 22, 2007 at 8:16 am

Posted in General

We need a new tea cup…

Reviewing my last post, I realized a couple of things.

Firstly, I’m too grumpy and secondly, I’ve been writing about these issues for too long and so sometimes I assume that you, my most gentle of readers, have been with me every step of the way.


So let me add some additional context.

While reading the post, you may, if you didn’t know me better, assume that I am something of a King Canute character, slowly getting wetter as the waves of the “InterWeb Revolution” wash away my analogue existence.

That would be incorrect.

I believe that the new generation of online services, which have been building momentum since the dot com bubble burst, are having and will have a major impact on how we live, work and communicate – that’s everyone, not just the PRs.

However, I am also pragmatic. I question this move to an idealistic world where everything will be online and where we should listen attentively and heed the views of the visionaries that have been appointed by the digerati.

I question those who believe that all corporations are evil and PR people live to confuse and misinform.

I question those who lecture us without the wit to realize they’re talking about things they know nothing about – but by dropping the words “social media” they are suddenly world experts.

All of a sudden the term “audience” is to be banned.  Instead everyone is an induhvidual.

All I ask is that we question the vision of the unproven visionaries.

Change is inevitable for every living organism from an ant to a corporate PR professional.  Long-term success, whether we’re talking about simple survival or a successful career, requires us to adapt to changing conditions.

Yes, we will use the online media more – whether we actually know we’re doing it or not – yes, it will have a major impact, and yes, this means the practice of Public Relations will require review and refinement.

But no one has all the answers, and more importantly no one has opinions more valid or more valuable than yours, particularly when they are talking about your profession, which they clearly know nothing about – well beyond the usual sterotypes.

Written by Tom Murphy

January 21, 2007 at 10:05 pm

Posted in General

Now that's a very big tea cup…

You turn your RSS reader off for a day and all hell breaks loose.

What’s it this time you might ask? Well now it’s the social press release… well no it’s not actually the social press release.  It looks like it’s the social press release but when you scratch a little, pull back the band-aid then it’s more a (nother) swipe at the PR dweebs.

I’ll try and explain.

Stowe Boyd kicks things off with a post following a Third Thursday event in San Francisco.  He criticizes the idea of a social media press release asking why PRs won’t just use blogs, he believes that we (that’s all us PR twits) are misusing the term social media.  We shouldn’t use the term “audience”.. there’s more, read it, I’m bored already. [Robert then weighs in with his broad PR expertise].

You guys, you make me laugh.

[There’s a wide range of discussion: Brian Solis, Mike Manuel, Chris Heuer, Shel Holtz, Stuart Bruce ]

I don’t intend to undertake a long, detailed and insightful defence of the social media press release because 1) I’d be too bored to hit the post button and 2) The guys above do a fine job of addressing Stowe’s issue.

Stowe underscores his deep understanding of the issue and his position as a balanced observer of the “new new” media with his follow up post:

“Social Media and Public Relations: The Press Release is Dead”

Fantastic stuff, straight from page two (or should that be permalink two) of the “new new” media online wiki (handbook is soooo Web 1.0) and I quote:

Everything that we know from before is dead.  This should be the first line of offence and defence against Neanderthals, who dare to question your opinions or even try and suggest that some off-line things may not actually be swept away by the all knowing, all seeing, all transforming power of the InterWeb.


I think I’ll sit this dance out and spend the time thinking about all the AUDIENCES I’m going to fax this week. 

Really and truly.  Is there room for more than one ego in those Web 2.0 bubbles?

Excuse the (very un-Web 2.0) religous reference, but is the use of the term “audience” really a sin? Is it a cardinal sin or just a venial sin?

We should all heed the knowledge of the blogger who invokes that most powerful of all Web 2.0 commands: “Kill the press release.  We don’t need the press release anymore, just put it on a blog.”

Yes, I’ll go and tell the NYSE right now sir.

I don’t know how many times I’ve invoked this quote, but given I’m breaking all the Web 2.0 rules, I’ll break another and I’ll even modernize it:

It’s better to not type something, format it, hit “publish” and appear ill-informed than to hit publish and remove all doubt.

Web 1.0 rocks.

Anyway to cheer you up check out this video via Serge.

Written by Tom Murphy

January 21, 2007 at 9:29 pm

Posted in General