Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for July 2008

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

Planes, blogs, students and radios..

Shel Hotz ponders whether you’re better off with an “official” blogger or just have staff with blogs.  Guess what? It depends… I agree, in fact it’s probably best to have both!


Meanwhile his FIR colleague, Mr. Hobson blogs on research that finds podcasts are boosting radio audiences.  Makes a lot of sense, and that’s some good evidence that new media AND old media can get along in harmony with no one dying. Imagine that.


Jessica Lawlor sent me an e-mail an embarrassingly long time ago about a blog herself an fellow students set up as part of their activities building a student-run agency. What a fantastic idea! I wish I had that initiative in college!


Also I got a great mail from Termeh Mazhari who works with AMP3 PR in New York and has launched a blog to get the conversation going. The more the merrier!


Hans Kullin is surprised that Ryanair is trying to “spin” CEO Michael O’Leary’s “beds and blowjobs” comment at a recent press conference in Germany “in a positive way”. Ryanair are a fascinating case study on PR execution.  Like them or not, they are smart and creative.. and yes very edgy.  However, even at the height of a given negative media onslaught in Ireland, it never seemed to have had an adverse impact on sales – and they are pretty smart in capitalising on relevant news trends. The only theory that I can offer is that consumers perceive their service to be such good value that it offsets any negative media impact – and in fact the controversies probably help to drive awareness that is in keeping with the brand :-).  They are a company that has mastered the art of managing customer expectations.

Written by Tom Murphy

July 3, 2008 at 9:55 pm

Posted in General

A place to put your digital stuff

So, you’re now officially digital.

Fantastic. Well done.

You now have your photos in Flickr, well most of them, you have your music online and oh offline, you have your documents on that external hard drive and on eh… SkyDrive… is it?

The reality is that you have digital content all over the Interweb, and all over your house, your hard drive, your devices and your desktop.  If you’re like me it’s probably growing faster than a fixed interest rate.

So how do you manage it?  Probably with great difficulty or worse…not at all.

This is where Joe Drumgoole‘s new company PutPlace comes to the rescue.

It’s a smart digital content management service. 

It tracks your content: where it lives, what it is, what the most recent version is, and ensures that if the worst comes to the worst (and you know it will!) you’ll still have your memories, content and music.

Joe is a friend and former colleague, and they’ve been working on the service for quite a while, why not give it a try, you only have peace of mind at stake!

They’ve just opened up the beta programme, you can sign up here.


Joe: Feature request, any chance you could create something similar for Web 2.0 services and log-ins? And if anyone says FriendFeed you’re in deep trouble…

Written by Tom Murphy

July 3, 2008 at 8:45 pm

Posted in General

Ireland: Interview with Vincent Browne

Marketing magazine has an interesting one-to-one with Vincent Browne covering all the areas (and media outlets) you’d expect ref: RTΓ‰, Independent News and Media, TV3, Village and the Sunday Tribune.

I use the internet a lot. It’s changed journalism significantly, in ways that haven’t been properly appreciated. Because of the difficulties there used to be in getting access to information, there had be investigative journalism, which relied mainly on getting information from people rather than from documents.

Now, the vast amount of documents that are available through official government sites is just enormous. It’s a question of making sense of those and knowing where to find them and what to find. The documents are far more reliable than people. I’m not saying people necessarily tell lies but naturally that memories and perceptions can be faulty.

The challenge of journalism now is making sense of this vast amount of information available on the internet. That, to a large extent, is what journalism has turned into. Of course, you still get tip offs from people on matters of importance.

<via Cian Ginty>

Written by Tom Murphy

July 3, 2008 at 8:31 pm

Posted in General

Flash Hall of Shame

In May 2002 I started a little personal campaign against Flash intros, after all who in the world wants to waste seconds of their life watch a self-serving ad after taking the trouble of visiting your web site.

The list grew so long I created a couple of web pages for them.  Unfortunately the page suffered neglect for the past couple of years.

Recently, in a fit of rare efficiency I re-directed my old blog URL to and completely forgot to migrate the old Flash Hall of Fame.



Alice reminded me earlier today, so I’ve republished it in its former glory (broken links and all) at:

You never know, I might even update it one of these days!

Written by Tom Murphy

July 2, 2008 at 10:15 pm

Posted in General