Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for May 2010

links for 2010-05-26

Written by Tom Murphy

May 26, 2010 at 6:02 pm

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PR people: if you want respect, pay your dues..

Is PR a profession?  If you think so then Bill Sledzik has a great post with some bad news for you.  He estimates that we’re 0/5 from the five attributes of a profession. His advice:

Follow the PRSA Code of Ethics whether you’re a member of not. Mentor up-and-coming practitioners and interns, encouraging them to act professionally. Support a “professional organization” that attempts to elevate the status of the field. And do the right thing, because “true” professionals act autonomously, always placing the public interest ahead of client interest.

This is a thorny subject. 

From time to time PR people raise the issue of the profession’s (or not) poor perception.  Normally this results in a passionate call to action, a web site, a plan, a petition.  The one common result of these efforts is nothing.  Nothing changes. Last week we had the latest effort from Keith Trivitt and PR Cog*. (*Not to be grumpy but is it ironic that someone writing under a pseudonym is giving out about PR’s perception problems? Really?)

Of course there are very good reasons why PR has a perception issue. First and foremost there’s a lot of very poor practice out there. Some of it is due to laziness, some of it is due to a lack of professional pride or competence and unfortunately some of it is due to a serious lack of ethics. However, it all adds up to a huge reputational challenge.

We are not helped that the barriers to entry into this line of work are at best low and at worst non-existent.

Let’s also not forget that the level of membership of our professional bodies is incredibly low.

I welcome people’s passion and their attempt at affirmative action.  But in my opinion it’s a waste of time, energy and resources.

If you are a PR practitioner and you are serious about addressing our collective perception issues, then the first thing you should do is join your local professional body, adhere to well accepted (global) code of ethics and invest your energy in evangelizing the need for professional membership.

When I lived in Ireland I was a long-time member of the PRII and was lucky enough to spend a few years on the Board.  There I saw firsthand the hard work underway around the world to agree standard codes and evangelize their importance.

The challenge is that while the professional bodies can provide a collective voice for practitioners, their validity is proportional to their membership.  If PR people don’t sign up then their impact and mandate is reduced.

Now I am well aware that these bodies have their limitations, however the fact remains they are already doing a lot of work to address these issues and the more people who sign up, the greater impact they can have.  If you want to make a positive contribution sign up and get involved.

So, put away your new wiki or website. Instead pay a visit to your local professional body, sign up for membership, read and embrace the code of ethics and start educating people about them.

Addressing PR’s perception issues is a complex and some would say impossible task.  However, supporting our professional bodies will help this issue far more than any website or amateur plan.

Share your thoughts in the comments below or let me know on Twitter.

Disclaimer: I was a long time member of the Public Relations Institute of Ireland, though my membership has lapsed since my move to the United States last year.  The PRSA and IABC are on my to-do list.  Add your local professional body to yours Smile.

Update: Judy Gombita over at PR Conversations penned a post on a similar topic a while back: Industry, trade or profession? Some observations on PR associations, present and future

Written by Tom Murphy

May 26, 2010 at 8:11 am

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Written by Tom Murphy

May 26, 2010 at 8:07 am

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links for 2010-05-25

Written by Tom Murphy

May 25, 2010 at 6:08 pm

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Written by Tom Murphy

May 23, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Posted in General

Stop, listen and think..

It’s accepted that we are all incredibly busy these days.  We’re rushing around, juggling plans, meetings, calls, issues, projects and to-do lists – not to mention e-mail and Twitter.  It’s very easy to keep your head down and plough on.

It is however – in my humble opinion -incredibly important to stop on a regular basis. Stop and think. Stop and review.  Stop and listen.

I know that the Sharpen the Saw analogy has become a cliché, but then it has become a cliché because it’s true!

One thing I love doing is sitting and listening to my son.  Five year olds are so honest, their minds are full of opportunities and they don’t allow norms or experience to restrict their thoughts or dull their expectations.  This is something we should all contemplate.

That’s why I loved this post by Richie Escovedo: “9 PR rules my daughter learned in kindergarten”.

9. Listen to others – There is an interesting duality to this rule. A.) You don’t know all there is to know about public relations. You need to continue to learn and hone your skills through discussion, research, and professional development. PR is an ever-evolving field and being able to adapt and change is what will make you stand out. B.) You don’t know all there is to know about your organization or clients. Active listening within your work environment, on behalf of your organization and through monitoring will mean the difference between taking shots in the dark and making educated and informed communication decisions.

Interesting food for thought…

Written by Tom Murphy

May 22, 2010 at 12:09 pm

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Do not edit this page

Written by Tom Murphy

May 22, 2010 at 1:31 am

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links for 2010-05-20

Written by Tom Murphy

May 20, 2010 at 6:03 pm

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True life is always stranger than fiction…

I previously wrote about my love of language in general and the writing of the vintage UK TV series “Yes Minister” in particular. Yes Minister for the uninitiated was a sitcom based around the relationship of a UK government minister and his daily struggle with his civil servants.

Well a story in the UK Daily Telegraph over the weekend caught my eye. It details leaked civil service memos that were prepared to brief civil servants ahead of the arrival of the newly elected government:

The documents, instructing senior officials at the Department of Communities and Local Government how to woo their new bosses, give a checklist of what are called “hot button”, Tory-friendly words, to be dropped into conversation whenever possible. These include “families,” “radical,” “neighbourhoods” and “progressive.”

and the advice continues:

civil servants are told to “talk of efficiencies / value for money without prompting” and advised to deploy blatant flattery, with suggested phrases including: “Congratulations! I had so much confidence in you, I might get complacent!”

The documents order mandarins to “smile!… Lean forward!… Be interesting!” They are told to engage in “supportive listening,” and “take cues from the Secretary of State.” Officials are advised that “eye contact [is] the real currency.”

Yes, life is stranger than fiction.

Written by Tom Murphy

May 19, 2010 at 8:08 am

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Written by Tom Murphy

May 19, 2010 at 8:07 am

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