Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

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Disclaimer: In an ideal world the opinions I express on this blog and the associated web pages would represent my own personal views and not those of my current, prior or future employers. Of course we know the world is never that simple and I’ll write on this blog with that in mind :).

About this blog

I started this blog back in March 2002.  The original purpose was to try and capture links and content about PR and marketing from around the web.  Unfortunately these days – and 2,400 posts later – I’m not as prolific a blogger as I used to be.

About Tom Murphy

I am originally from Dublin, Ireland but have lived and worked in Washington state in the United States since March 2009.

A big part of my job is digging into how new social technologies and channels intersect with our traditional marketing tools and techniques. So much has changed since I started working in public relations back in 1992, yet the basic fundamentals of great communications have remained constant.

I’ve had the great fortune to work in a range of great in-house and agency roles working with many of the world’s greatest technology brands such as Corel, Gateway, Intel and Microsoft, as well as a range of successful – and of course unsuccessful – independent start-ups. I’ve had fantastic opportunities to work around Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia, North America and Latin America – and along the way worked on the full range of PR and marketing communications functions from strategy to message development, media relations programs, crisis communications, company spokesperson, agency management, corporate social responsibility (CSR), product communications, internal communications, analyst relations, investor relations, stakeholder engagement, and marketing communications.

Thankfully, the one constant through my career has been the opportunity to continuously learn, try new things and drive positive change.

On a personal note, I’m married to the long-suffering Sorcha and we have the world’s best son, Cillian and the world’s best daughter, Anna.

If you want to get in contact:

E-mail: tpemurphy -AT- hotmail.com

Mobile: +1-425-614-614-6

Twitter: @tpemurphy

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tpemurphy

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/tpemurphy

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Comment policy: Comments on any of these blogs are moderated. Any comments I deem inappropriate for this blog will be not be posted.  Where those comments are not spam, I will flag that decision with the person who submitted the post. Comments on the PR Opinions blog are closed.

 

Written by Tom Murphy

February 10, 2015 at 8:20 pm

Posted in General

About

Disclaimer: This is Tom Murphy’s personal weblog.  In an ideal world the opinions I express on this blog and the associated web pages would represent my own personal views and not those of my current, prior or future employers. Of course we know the world is never that simple and I’ll write on this blog with that in mind :).

  • Murphy’s Law is my blog about Public Relations and technology.
  • PR Opinions, is an archive of all my PR posts from March 2002 to August 2006.

Tom Murphy

I live and work in Washington state in the United States where I work as director of commercial communications for Microsoft Office including Office 365 and Yammer.  A big part of my job is digging into how social technologies are finally changing how people work and enabling them to focus on getting the most important things done.  It’s a really exciting and fast moving area.  Before joining the Office team I was leading momentum communications for Windows, leading a team of smart, creative people focused on communications and storytelling for consumers, businesses and application developers.  Prior to joining the Windows team I spent four years working on Corporate Citizenship communications at Microsoft Corporation. I moved to the United States in March 2009. Prior to that I spent four years running Microsoft’s local Citizenship and Public Relations programs in Ireland.

I started working in public relations in 1992 and I’ve had the great fortune to work in a range of great in-house and agency roles working with many of the world’s greatest technology brands such as Corel, Gateway, Intel and Microsoft, as well as a range of successful (and unsuccessful) independent start-ups.  I’ve had fantastic opportunities to work around Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia, North America and Latin America – and along the way worked on strategy, crisis communications, product marketing, initial public offerings and investor relations, analyst relations, and I’ve been working with social media since 2002.  From a technology perspective I’ve worked with companies in practically every area of the technology business from launching microprocessors, to tape (gulp) storage, consulting services, desktop apps, cloud services, operating systems, enterprise applications, developer tools, mice, keyboards, PCs, laptops – you name it I’ve probably done it.

A word of warning, although I may offer it you should never take any career advice from me.  When I left college in 1991 I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I didn’t want anything to do with:

  1. computers
  2. communications or PR

I’ve spent over 20 years doing both, so be forewarned.

I started blogging about public relations and other things in 2002.  I am a passionate advocate of the importance of great communications and the positive impact of social media.  However, I am a pragmatist and I eschew the hyperbole you often find about social media.  I believe that great PR starts with your business objectives and your strategy.  Social media is no different.  Understand your business and your audience – avoid the hype!

If I blog about a Microsoft product or service it will be tagged with He would say that  – that’s my formal disclosure tag.

I’m married to the long-suffering Sorcha and we have the world’s best son, Cillian and the world’s best daughter, Anna.

If you want to get in contact:

E-mail: tpemurphy -AT- hotmail.com

Mobile: +1-425-614-614-6

MSN IM: tpemurphy -AT- hotmail.com

Twitter: @tpemurphy

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tpemurphy

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/tpemurphy

ShareThis

Comment policy: Comments on any of these blogs are moderated. Any comments I deem inappropriate for this blog will be not be posted.  Where those comments are not spam, I will flag that decision with the person who submitted the post. Comments on the PR Opinions blog are closed.

Written by Tom Murphy

April 24, 2014 at 11:07 am

Posted in General

You can be creative about anything…

There are a number of things I love about this video. 

It is very smart, well shot, and it’s surprising, entertaining, and memorable.

The other thing is that it’s a really compelling and creative way to demonstrate a pretty mundane (to me) product feature. 

You may argue on the ROI of this video, but then neither of us have any idea of the objectives or the measures of success.

So instead, let’s just enjoy it. 

I first saw this on Thursday and it had 40,000 views, in less than a day that jumped to 8.7 million (and growing).

It’s so good, I even forgive them using Enya for the soundtrack.

My takeaway?

The steering on those Volvo trucks is – thankfully -  magnificent.

Thank goodness for that.

Written by Tom Murphy

November 15, 2013 at 11:55 am

Posted in General

About

Disclaimer: This is Tom Murphy’s personal weblog.  In an ideal world the opinions I express on this blog and the associated web pages would represent my own personal views and not those of my current, prior or future employers. Of course we know the world is never that simple and I’ll write on this blog with that in mind :).

  • Murphy’s Law is my blog about Public Relations and technology.
  • PR Opinions, is an archive of all my PR posts from March 2002 to August 2006.

Tom Murphy

I live and work in Washington state in the United States where I work as director of corporate communications for citizenship at Microsoft Corporation. I moved to the United States in March 2009. Prior to that I spent four years running Microsoft’s local Citizenship and Public Relations programs in Ireland.

I started working in public relations in 1992 and I’ve had the great fortune to work in a range of great in-house and agency roles working with many of the world’s greatest technology brands such as Corel, Gateway, Intel and Microsoft, as well as a range of successful independent start-ups.  I’ve also had fantastic opportunities to work around Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia and North America.

I started blogging about public relations and other things in 2002.  I am a passionate advocate of the importance of great communications and the positive impact of social media.  However, I am a pragmatist and I eschew the hyperbole you often find about social media.  I believe that great PR starts with your business objectives and your strategy.  Social media is no different.  Understand your business and your audience – avoid the hype!

If I blog about a Microsoft product or service it will be tagged with He would say that  – that’s my formal disclosure tag.

I’m married to the long-suffering Sorcha and we have the world’s best son, Cillian and the world’s best daughter, Anna.

If you want to get in contact:

E-mail: tpemurphy -AT- hotmail.com

Mobile: +1-425-614-614-6

MSN IM: tpemurphy -AT- hotmail.com

Twitter: @tpemurphy

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tpemurphy

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/tpemurphy

ShareThis

Comment policy: Comments on any of these blogs are moderated. Any comments I deem inappropriate for this blog will be not be posted.  Where those comments are not spam, I will flag that decision with the person who submitted the post. Comments on the PR Opinions blog are closed.

Written by Tom Murphy

October 5, 2012 at 9:09 am

Posted in General

Getting real about Social Media, PR (and CSR)…

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship Conference 2010 in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. There was a great turnout with CSR and PR people from every industry and there were great discussions throughout the three days. Unfortunately the pressures of the day job have delayed this post, but I hope you’ll forgive me.

I had the privilege of participating in two sessions on the emergence of new media. The panels included Dianna O’Neill from Fedex and Jennifer Tower from Ernst & Young and were ably moderated by Ken Frietas from Boston College.

It was great to get insight into how Fedex and Ernst & Young are thinking about social media, but as usual at these events, the real highlight was the lively discussion and Q&A. (You can find a summary of the session by Meghan Baldelli here.)

It became clear to me (again) that there’s a clear a disconnect between the social media high-church and the challenges facing people in the real world. Before exploring some of the themes from the panel I wanted to call out some common sense that’s emerging around the discussion on social media.  First up, Jeremy Pepper’s thoughtful post titled It’s About Why, Not How.

I recommend it.

His central thesis is that there’s a lot of experts online who talk about the tools but a lot less about why a company would use the tools and how they will have a real tangible impact.

The issue for corporations right now is you have a ton of social media speakers – many who have no public relations or marketing backgrounds, but have (for some odd reason) been labeled social media and community geniuses – that come in full guns blazing about how to do social media. That is worthless, and does not help companies. Ask them why, and see if they can talk about any past successes – real successes that point to an agreed upon ROI and results – and then judge if what they are talking about would work for your business.

If you read this blog semi-regularly.  You’ll know this is a subject close to my heart. As someone who monitors Twitter and reads blogs and online commentary it’s a constant source of frustration that there’s too much talk and supposition about social media without any context or understanding of the real world challenges that businesses and individuals face. (Rob Key has also written an interesting post on this subject: Why we need to kill “social media”.)

The real questions are how does social media fit in terms of reaching real organizational goals? How do I deal with internal issues and balancing the resources I need to focus on traditional programs (that remain effective) while somehow integrating social media programs?

I’ve worked in communications for a long time. I am painfully aware of the pressure people are under to deliver against these challenges.  There is far too little discussion of this online and far too much blue sky hypothesizing about the latest widget – with no context, and no reality.

The real world – real people, real challenges

Back to the Boston College conference. The panel sessions I participated in addressed the changes we’re seeing in communication.  They were very well attended and it was great to hear the concerns of people who are working in real companies and trying to achieve actual business objectives.  While some of the areas we discussed were CSR-specific, the majority of the discussion was applicable everywhere.

Here were some of my takeaways:

  • Many people still don’t understand the social media tools and channels.  I think the major reason for this is that people continue to struggle to cope with existing workloads and there’s confusion on how to balance that workload and the resources.
  • People are still struggling how and where social media fits in with all the existing programs and campaigns they are running. Many view it as a separate rather than integrated set of activities.
  • There remains a lot of concern from senior management about the risk of losing control and creating risk by actively participating online.
  • People are challenged with how to mobilize and engage their co-workers around social media.
  • There are questions on how you successfully manage the social media process. This ranges from specific publishing processes to legal and HR issues.
  • Those who see opportunity are confused about how to get their social media programs started.

So here are some high level thoughts:

  • Start with your objectives – When you begin to think about potential social media campaigns, the starting point must be your business and marketing objectives.  Think about how social media can positively support the achievement of those objectives
  • Integrate social media – Integrate social media tools and programs with your traditional marketing and PR programs.  It should not be an isolated or one off activity. If you’re working with a large company, make sure that your social media efforts and properties are aligned and integrated with other efforts taking place at your company.
  • Start small – You don’t need to launch a blog a Twitter feed, a Facebook page all at one time.  Dianna O’Neill recommends a Twitter feed as a good, low-maintenance way to get started. Just remember to set some goals, measure your results and experiment!
  • Less is more – Often every division, department and group wants their own Twitter feed, their own blog etc.  Sometimes it makes sense, but often it doesn’t.  Don’t be left with a large number of underperforming online properties when focusing efforts and resources on a small number would be far more effective.
  • Social media isn’t free –   This is a fallacy, unless you have lots of free labor.  There is a cost and it requires resources.  Think through the implications of kick starting your social media program and make sure you have sufficient resources to sustain it.
  • Control is subjective – The issue of control can often be a difficult one.  Sometimes the issue is a concern about legal implications or regulations.  Sometimes it’s based on management’s fears.  However, the reality is that people are probably already discussing your brand and products online. From a legal standpoint (see no shortcuts below) you must ensure that your social media assets meet all relevant legal requirements.  In terms of addressing management’s fears, start in a controlled manner, use sensible policies and test them.
  • There are no shortcuts – Building successful social media programs takes time and resources.  That’s the reality.  Social media is also subject to the same issues as traditional marketing. This includes legal considerations.  Treat social media as you would any other marketing program or tool.
  • Content is king – Social media helps you to tell stories in new and engaging ways. Sometimes you can share content from elsewhere in the marketing mix, but often you need to think in new ways about how you create content.  Be creative. Be relevant. Add value. Do it.
  • Converse and broadcast – Although some may disagree a lot of social media channels are effectively online broadcast tools.  That’s OK.  But there is also
    the opportunity to engage people on relevant issues and topics. Fedex’s Dianna O’Neill used a phrase I loved: intimate conversations.  Work on getting your experts engaging online – even in limited ways – make sure that you are adding value, not noise to the conversation.
  • Future proof – As social media continues to evolve there are new services emerging all the time and people are now consuming and connecting across more devices and in more locations that ever before.  Think about the impact of these trends and how you can use different approaches to extend your reach and effectiveness.

 

Should I communicate about our CSR programs?

Finally, one CSR-specific PR issue that comes up again and again is about whether it’s acceptable to promote or communicate around CSR. My personal view is that as long as you have a sustainable, commitment to social responsibility that is aligned with you business, then I believe it is completely acceptable for you to communicate in an appropriate manner. The reality today is that many audiences expect transparency from companies on their commitment to social responsibility, so we shouldn’t be afraid to discuss and communicate how our organizations are looking to help address societal challenges.

What do you think?

Leave a comment below or share your thoughts on Twitter: @tpemurphy.

Update: Thanks to the ever kind David Tebbutt who kindly pointed out a typo – now corrected 🙂

Written by Tom Murphy

April 23, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Posted in General

Don’t be afraid of talking about Corporate Social Responsibility

Partly in response to my post about the growing importance of appropriate communications on a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts, the Textifying blog over at Arizona State University (sorry there’s no bio page and the post was written by ‘tburns’ – and I tried to leave a comment but couldn’t) published a post entitled: Socially Responsible Communication Methods.

Among other things, the author expresses their conflict at the idea of an organization communicating or promoting its CSR work:

In a way, the idea of “promoting” the good a company does reminds me of people who only do generous things so they can brag about it later and create the image of a genuinely nice person. This defeats the purpose of giving and destroys the definition of a true “kind soul.”

First off let me say that I am delighted that they wrote this post.  As I mentioned previously there’s far too little discussion on the PR implications of CSR, so it’s great they took the time to share their views.

However, I should also point out that I disagree with their sentiment, and let me explain why.

Every commercial organization, regardless of its location, business or size has a social responsibility.  Why? Because every business, whether directly through its operations or indirectly through its staff is part of the local community and broader society. 

In general, good CSR means aligning corporate responsibility to the organization’s business strategy.  This is important for a number of reasons.  If CSR is aligned, then it can have a positive impact for the business – it will therefore create value and will be sustainable over the long term – that’s how CSR can deliver real measurable impact. 

Today stakeholders; from investors, to customers, employees and investors want to know what companies are doing in the community and society at large. If we can agree that it makes sense to align CSR efforts to the core business, then it becomes a central element of what that business does. That’s why communication is important.

CSR is about more than philanthropy – albeit that’s an important element.  CSR is about being a responsible business.  It’s about good corporate governance, ethics, being a great employer, reducing environmental impact and many other elements. But let’s focus on philanthropy for a moment.  In my experience, the value a company brings to a non-profit organization is three fold.  The first, and most obvious is financial support, but in many cases the expertise and resources a company can bring to bear through a strong partnership is often more important.

Companies can often help nonprofits broaden the reach and impact of their communications – raising awareness and helping them increase their effectiveness. Of course, that communication should be appropriate and transparent, but companies should not be embarrassed to tell people how they are constructively being a responsible citizen. Indeed companies, in my view, should be up front about their commitment to CSR, about how they are measuring their efforts and how they are tracking against their commitments.

There are risks.

We live in a far more transparent world where companies need to be wary of sacrificing goodwill for short term publicity.

But doing well by doing good, is not only accepted as good business practice, it’s becoming an imperative. That’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

Now given that I work in communications for Microsoft’s Corporate Citizenship efforts, you should expect me to be an advocate.  But then I see the incredible work that we and other companies do every day in partnership with nonprofits – work that positively impacts people and communities all over the world.

Communicating a company’s commitment to CSR or Corporate Responsibility or Corporate Citizenship is not only a good thing, it’s a vital thing.

Agree or disagree?

Leave a comment or ping me on Twitter at @tpemurphy.

Written by Tom Murphy

March 4, 2010 at 4:13 am

Posted in General

Don’t be afraid of talking about Corporate Social Responsibility

Partly in response to my post about the growing importance of appropriate communications on a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts, the Textifying blog over at Arizona State University (sorry there’s no bio page and the post was written by ‘tburns’ – and I tried to leave a comment but couldn’t) published a post entitled: Socially Responsible Communication Methods.

Among other things, the author expresses their conflict at the idea of an organization communicating or promoting its CSR work:

In a way, the idea of “promoting” the good a company does reminds me of people who only do generous things so they can brag about it later and create the image of a genuinely nice person. This defeats the purpose of giving and destroys the definition of a true “kind soul.”

First off let me say that I am delighted that they wrote this post.  As I mentioned previously there’s far too little discussion on the PR implications of CSR, so it’s great they took the time to share their views.

However, I should also point out that I disagree with their sentiment, and let me explain why.

Every commercial organization, regardless of its location, business or size has a social responsibility.  Why? Because every business, whether directly through its operations or indirectly through its staff is part of the local community and broader society. 

In general, good CSR means aligning corporate responsibility to the organization’s business strategy.  This is important for a number of reasons.  If CSR is aligned, then it can have a positive impact for the business – it will therefore create value and will be sustainable over the long term – that’s how CSR can deliver real measurable impact. 

Today stakeholders; from investors, to customers, employees and investors want to know what companies are doing in the community and society at large. If we can agree that it makes sense to align CSR efforts to the core business, then it becomes a central element of what that business does. That’s why communication is important.

CSR is about more than philanthropy – albeit that’s an important element.  CSR is about being a responsible business.  It’s about good corporate governance, ethics, being a great employer, reducing environmental impact and many other elements. But let’s focus on philanthropy for a moment.  In my experience, the value a company brings to a non-profit organization is three fold.  The first, and most obvious is financial support, but in many cases the expertise and resources a company can bring to bear through a strong partnership is often more important.

Companies can often help nonprofits broaden the reach and impact of their communications – raising awareness and helping them increase their effectiveness. Of course, that communication should be appropriate and transparent, but companies should not be embarrassed to tell people how they are constructively being a responsible citizen. Indeed companies, in my view, should be up front about their commitment to CSR, about how they are measuring their efforts and how they are tracking against their commitments.

There are risks.

We live in a far more transparent world where companies need to be wary of sacrificing goodwill for short term publicity.

But doing well by doing good, is not only accepted as good business practice, it’s becoming an imperative. That’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

Now given that I work in communications for Microsoft’s Corporate Citizenship efforts, you should expect me to be an advocate.  But then I see the incredible work that we and other companies do every day in partnership with nonprofits – work that positively impacts people and communities all over the world.

Communicating a company’s commitment to CSR or Corporate Responsibility or Corporate Citizenship is not only a good thing, it’s a vital thing.

Agree or disagree?

Leave a comment or ping me on Twitter at @tpemurphy.

Written by Tom Murphy

March 4, 2010 at 4:12 am

Posted in General

Thinking about mobile communications…

As a communications profession we all (I hope) invest a lot of time and energy thinking about effective communications and how best to reach and engage with audiences. 

While traditional media remains incredibly important, there’s clearly a lot of focus on how social media is also impacting communications. So what about mobile?

The “Did you know” video below is an update from XPLANE (an “information design consultancy”) in collaboration with the Economist for their  Media Convergance conference in October.

It’s similar to many of the other “size/impact of social media” videos you’ve seen, but it’s updated and focuses more on mobile. 

So how are you thinking of fitting mobile into your plans?

Written by Tom Murphy

September 17, 2009 at 3:41 pm

Posted in General

Changing media consumption habits (and we’re not talking about social media)

Following Jon Snow’s interesting talk about how the media is changing, another venerable TV journalist, this time on the other side of the Atlantic, has shared his views on how the consumption of media is changing.

Speaking at a Poynter Institute for Media Studies event earlier in the week, Ted Koppel bemoaned the trend towards people only watching news and opinions that match their own.

"I think we have gone totally nuts on the issue of entitlement," said Koppel, who spent four decades as the anchor and managing editor of ABC’s Nightline. "We want news that resonates our own pre-held opinions. … That is the worst possible recipe for a country that prides itself in democracy."

More from the St. Petersburg Times.

Written by Tom Murphy

September 16, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Posted in General

Is the online world growing up? What about PR?

Interesting news from New York that a supreme court judge has ruled that Liskula Cohen is entitled to information that would help her to identify an anonymous blogger who called her a “skank”.

If she follows through that could be a very interesting development indeed.

Meanwhile Mark Creaser is pondering if PR agencies are redundant in 2009.

Digital Agencies are already elbowing PR aside, and within a couple of years, a traditional PR agency will be fairly niche. Times change, and in 2010 people will want to feel increasingly engaged with the brands and people they choose to do business with.

Now I think Mark makes some interesting points, but I don’t buy it – his argument that is, not PR agency services. I do buy them.

If there’s been one consistent PR-related theme on the interweb over the past five years it has been the death of PR and the death of PR agencies.

From what I am observing, there is a lot of innovation taking place inside PR firms, probably not enough, but it is happening.

Yes I am also seeing “digital” agencies stepping in and driving online campaigns, which in my opinion, is a huge missed (revenue and mindshare) opportunity for PR firms, but if PR agencies are smart and continue to develop their services and skills, then over time you could see PR firms taking back much of that budget.

Great communications is all about understanding your audience and engaging with them.  The idea that we’re facing into a time where we do all our outreach in-house just isn’t credible in my opinion.

Firstly let’s not forget that online is one (albeit a strong growing) element of the communications mix.  Secondly, while I am not by any means a apologist for PR firms, they do bring a range of benefits to companies from an outside-in perspective, to reach, expertise and much more.

PR firms aren’t going anywhere.

Communications in an age of social media is arguably more important now, than ever. Firms who invest in their people and their expertise, who spend time understanding the impact of online and how it sits with traditional channels (not just media folks) will continue to thrive.

Of course that’s just my opinion. I’d be much more worried about the future of “social media” gurus than PR firms…. but that’s for another day.

Written by Tom Murphy

August 19, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Posted in General