Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for July 2008


Written by Tom Murphy

July 22, 2008 at 2:53 pm

Posted in General

Ireland: Blog Digest [vanity post]

Things have been a little quiet here as I was away last week in Atlanta, Georgia on business.Β  While it was nice, given our current Summer, to get some heat into the bones, I’m not sure I’m made for that much heat!

If you’ll excuse the self-promotion, Marie Boran was kind enough to mention this small piece of the blogosphere in last Thursday’s Irish Independent Blog Digest section.

You can read it here.

Written by Tom Murphy

July 22, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Posted in General

Irish Times: PR Keeping up appearances

Shane Hegarty has a piece in this weekend’s Irish Times on the (potential) impact of the downturn on the PR business in Ireland.

You wouldn’t have thought it this week, however. The Government’s announcement that widespread cutbacks would include a halving of the PR, consultants and advertising budget was a sign that hard times may indeed be ahead. While details are still vague, the Government plans to save €21 million this year through the measure. It will trickle down to the high-profile firms which have specialised in State and semi-State work. Carr Communications is reported to earn €800,000 a year through such contracts, while they constitute about 10 per cent of Edelman’s business. Other companies which specialise in the area include Murray Consultants and Bracken PR.

This week, however, people within the industry were expressing no great panic either publicly or privately. It is clear that they are either determined to hold steady, or that they are talking themselves up in a way that only PR people can.

They argue that much of Government spending in big campaigns, such as the €12.5 million Change campaign dedicated to raising awareness on climate change, goes on advertising, making the media’s focus on PR alone somewhat skewed. The larger companies have diversified enough not to have to rely solely on the public contracts, while recruitment within the industry remains quite buoyant.

You can read the full story here.

Written by Tom Murphy

July 12, 2008 at 12:55 pm

Posted in General

PR depression, online PR slides, online journalism, Spectrum 48K, McDonalds, social media and the best telemarketing call ever…

From the perspective of a long-time PR practitioner, I have to admit that I find this thoroughly depressing.


Karen Miller Russell has an interesting post on measuring social media.  The post is based on content from the recent Edelmen summit in the US. Via Mr. Collister.


SlideShare has a collection on online presentations on the subject of (ahem) PR 2.0. Via Mr. Dugan.


And speaking of online slides, Neville Hobson shares some of the content from his recent CIPR talk.


Chris Green, Editor of UK publication IT Pro, shares his views that journalism online is about more than writing, it’s about search engine optimization, generating comments, and driving the visitor to read other content on the site. Andrew Bruce Smith has some detailed perspective.



Clive Sinclair pioneered bringing computing to the masses in the early 80s with the ZX80, ZX81 and the Spectrum 48K.  Chris Vallance from the BBC has an interview with the man himself… who doesn’t use the InterWeb πŸ™‚


Steve Rubel shares his views on how to get productive with social media, and I’m sure we can all do with help in that department. has an interview with Jill McDonald, McDonald’s Chief Marketing Officer for the UK and Northern Europe.

We’re not an online retailer, but our consumers are spending more and more time online, so what is the appropriate way for McDonalds to manifest itself online and engage and entertain our target audience? I really want us to take a step back as a brand and look at how we should be using the digital space.


If you haven’t already heard this Tom Mabe telemarketing call, I suggest you do, it’s absolutely fantastic..

Written by Tom Murphy

July 11, 2008 at 10:13 pm

Posted in General

Twitter Tourettes

[Warning, grumpy old man post]

So I have been jumping in and out of Twitter, mostly lurking, the odd bit of participation.

My opinion of Twitter has changed since January.  I do see value in it.  Sometimes it’s interesting, sometimes it’s informative and sometimes it’s useful (often it’s not πŸ™‚ ).

Sometimes Twitter will even facilitate an enjoyable exchange.

However, there’s always someone looking to ruin everyone else’s fun and I call them “Twitter Tourettes”.

What is this?

Well this is those individuals who have forgotten or lost their common sense filter on Twitter. 

Rather than send one or two “twits” on a particular thing or subject they send twenty streams of consciousness that have no value to anyone and just serve to make Twitter harder to follow.

Let me give you an example.

Let’s say I had just discovered Project Gutenberg, I might send a message like this:

I just discovered Project Gutenberg, it’s really cool..

Tom Murphy 0s ago via twhirl

Fair enough you might say. In fact you might even say, hey I’ll check it out.

I’m happy, you’re happy, or you’ve ignored it.

But with Twitter Tourettes I’d then go..

There’s loads of books on this thing!

Tom Murphy 0s ago via twhirl


Hey they have the book Aaron’s Rod

Tom Murphy 0s ago via twhirl


and the book Aaron Trow

Tom Murphy 0s ago via twhirl


and the book Abandoned room

Tom Murphy 0s ago via twhirl


and the book Abbeychurch

Tom Murphy 0s ago via twhirl

Etc. Etc. I think you get my drift.

Enough already.

Sometimes ladies and gentlemen, less is more.

You can of course follow my well measured and insightful twits @tpemurphy

Written by Tom Murphy

July 10, 2008 at 10:14 pm

Posted in General

Help… I think I'm a middle of the road digital PR guy…

I can think of no greater insult (speaking personally) than being described as “middle of the road”. 

Anyone who knows me can probably can attest to the fact I’m a little excitable and certainly opinionated πŸ™‚

But I am increasingly coming to the realisation that as time goes on, when we’re discussing online PR, I am middle of the road.

How have I come to this realisation?

Well I have come to recognise that change takes time, and in most cases change takes longer than we think or expect.

I don’t agree or support the view that traditional media is close to death, or that people are willing to spend 16 hours a day checking feeds, sites and blogs.

I do believe that we’re seeing an evolution. 

Things are changing, no question.  The online world is becoming more important every day and every single PR practitioner needs to understand and participate in this new world.

At the same time, while I think that in general the PR business is beginning to realise the change taking place and understand how it impacts our audiences and how we communicate and reach people, I am sometimes stunned by the perceptions and beliefs of some of my less-enlightened brethren.

I met with a student today as part of their her thesis on crisis communication. (I think they interview me as the control looney.)

Her research found that a sizeable proportion of PR people surveyed believed (and I’m paraphrasing here) that online wasn’t a priority at a time of crisis. She also found that many practitioners believed that the “poor writing” and “poor presentation” of web sites and blogs meant that many felt they were inappropriate outlets for their clients.

Oh my lord.

In Ireland, probably more than most countries, traditional media remains the most important outlet to reach the masses, but online is increasingly important.

The idea that online doesn’t matter, or because a blog hasn’t gone through a rigorous editorial procedure, that it’s not suitable or relevant – with no knowledge of its reach – is ludicrous.

So you see, I am middle of the road when it comes to online PR.

I have multiple blogs, dip my toe into Twitter, social networking etc., but I also recognise that the best form of communication is face-to-face, that the traditional media remains a vibrant and welcome part of our media landscape and that while changes are taking place, nothing is dying (bar the fax probably and look how long that’s taken).

Excuse me while I fetch my slippers, turn up the fire and work on my model railway.


Written by Tom Murphy

July 10, 2008 at 9:55 pm

Posted in General

Effective communications starts at the beginning… with insight

If you spend any time browsing blogs, RSS, Twitter, FriendFeed etc. etc., you will no doubt read a lot of opinion on why online communication is the only good, right and true type of communication for today’s hip, tuned in PR person.

There’s no question that the nature of communication is evolving.  As more people go online for their news, information and opinions, then communicators need to understand those changes.

However, before you go blowing raspberries at all those hacks working in traditional media, take a few moments.

Great, effective communication doesn’t start with the new new thing, it starts with your audience.

As a profession we’ve traditionally taken a “broad brush” approach to audience insight:

“Well according to them there ABC circulation figures, Acme Today is read by 16m people. Cool, let’s pitch Acme Today.”


Regardless of what you read online, there ain’t no revolution, but there is an evolution. 

Although print is losing share in some markets and verticals, the media houses are doing pretty well online. (And in many cases traditional media like print, radio and TV are holding up pretty well).

Do you really think that all your audience is going to log-in and check 65 different Web 2.0 sites, feeds and networks before starting work in the morning?

I don’t. 

There will of course be online influentials outside traditional media.  Search will continue to be important and I’m sure intelligent aggregation will eventually start to tame the volume of content online.

But right now, the primary challenge you face is getting better insight into your customer. 

Where are they finding information, where are they sharing information, what’s influential.

That’s the starting point in any plan.

Forget what’s cool (for a moment) and do some research.

You  may find your audience is all online, you may discover none of them are online, or more likely you’ll discover it’s a mixture.

Traditional media is alive and well.  So too is new emerging online media and tools.

The bad news is that we’re probably facing into more fragmentation, but if you develop great insight into your audience, then you’ll choose the right tools and the right tactics.

Focus on your audience.


Editor’s Note:

Although I realise it’s the term-de-jour, the phrase “Perfect Storm” is fast becoming the most annoying term on the Interweb.  Everything is a perfect storm these days.  What happened to plain old storms or bad weather or even some wind*?

(*Any commenters making double entendre gags about the amount of “wind” online will be scolded)

Supplemental links:

  • Neville’s post shows how face-to-face blog relations can be very effective.
  • Andrew has a very interesting post on how Infoworld has evolved (shock: traditional media lives online!)  – though I tend to believe that if you emphasise print over online or vice versa, it should be based on customer insight.

Written by Tom Murphy

July 7, 2008 at 9:08 pm

Posted in General