Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Great communications requires great measurement…

I recently attended an internal communications event. I always enjoy getting the opportunity to meet and hear from other communicators. You’ll always pick something up.

This particular event included a panel with four internal communications practitioners.  They each covered a range of topics from what was working best for their organizations, to using social channels with internal audiences.

The moderator’s last question addressed that most notorious of topics for communicators everywhere – measurement. 

Here were the responses…

Panelist 1 (PR agency): “Well with our client <name redacted> we’re buying access to employees on Facebook.”

My take: OK.  That’s a tactic and many companies are investing in Facebook to engage their employees.  But it’s not really measurement….

Panelist 2 (In-house private mid-sized company): “Our company is just too small to measure communications.”

My take: Eh.  Your company is too small to measure communications but big enough to pay the salary of a full time communications person? How do you justify your existence if you’re not measuring your work?

Panelist 3 (In-house large national company): “Well we’ve a big team that looks after measurement but I don’t really get involved in it.”

My take: Where do I even start with that?  So the company is measuring communications but the communications person never asks to see the results? Oh my….

Panelist 4 (In-house high profile (relatively new) public technology company): “Well our company is all about data.  We’re a completely data driven company.  But to be honest, I don’t use data to measure internal communications. I know what’s working and what isn’t”

My take: Sorry I can’t even address that one…

I sat there quietly.  I’m not sure if I was rocking back and forth in my chair, but I could have been.  I was trying to work out how I could respectfully address just how ridiculous, misleading and wrong these answers were.

I did, respectfully.

But here’s the thing.  The experience worries me about the communications profession.

How, in the 21st century, can a communicator not measure the impact of their work?  How do they get budget? How do they make decisions on the right tools, channels and content to use?  Do they stick their finger in the air?

Back in the early 1990s where there was little or no digital tools or channels, we measured communications.

Today, everything is digital.  Data is everywhere. It’s not expensive. It’s not complex – unless you consider using a search engine complex. How can you not measure the outputs and outcomes of your communications?

I realize that, on the whole, we communicators aren’t mad about numbers, or data and analysis, but today this is central to your job.  Central to understanding the people you’re communicating with. Central to understanding what’s working and what’s not working – where to invest valuable time and resources and where not to invest.

Not measuring communications isn’t a failing or a missed opportunity. Not measuring communications is gross negligence.

If you don’t know about measurement then research it on the web.

Start with Katie Paine or the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communications.

If you want some food for thought listen to this great podcast from the FIR Podcast Network on ROI and measurement.

Measurement isn’t just about justifying your existence, it’s about learning, doing a better job, driving better results. It’s simply a non-negotiable.

Written by Tom Murphy

September 18, 2015 at 7:43 am

Posted in General

If you say it’s dead, it’s probably not.

As Jim Diamond sang in the 80s, I should have known better.

And I did.

When I heard about Robert Phillips’ plans for a book titled: Trust Me, PR is Dead, I knew I’d disagree with the central premise.

Social media’s overuse of the word ‘dead’ to describe a profession or service has always annoyed me.  It betrays poor judgment and a lack of realism. The reality is never that simple.  Not in the real world.

However, I also believe that a healthy mind, is a challenged mind, and perhaps Mr. Phillips would impart some radically new thinking that would make me question my beliefs.

So, not only did I buy his book, I supported the fund raising* for it and signed up months before the book was even finished.

I was planning to review the book here.  (30,000 foot summary: there’s some mildly interesting content, I actually agree that businesses (and PR firms) need to change their behavior. However, much of the thinking in the book is flawed in the extreme.)

But then I listened to Shel Holtz’s review and realized there was no need.  Shel has done a great job addressing the book’s flaws – and not to ruin the ending he recommends not buying the book.

You can listen to Shel’s review here.

*One small comment on this crowd funding thing.  I have to say that I found the whole process annoying in the extreme.  To pay for something up front is one thing, but to be constantly bombarded with emails promoting progress on the book and also asking you to support other book projects is another.  Next time I’ll wait for the publication.

Written by Tom Murphy

June 17, 2015 at 8:03 am

Posted in Uncategorized

PSA: Objectives, Strategies & Tactics…

There’s a surprising amount of confusion out there about the differences between an objective, a strategy and a tactic. I’m amazed how often I see tactics mixed up with strategies in plans and proposals.

As part of my on boarding process when I started my first PR job back in the early 1990s, they provided a simple but effective way of remembering the differences:

Objective – a description of the end result:

  • I want to go to Ireland for a vacation starting on Monday

Strategy – how the objective will be achieved:

  • I’m going to travel by plane – it’s faster than going by sea

Tactics – specific actions to be taken:

  • Check expedia.com for the best flight prices
  • Book a room in the Shelbourne hotel in Dublin
  • Hire a car for the trip from Avis

Written by Tom Murphy

February 12, 2015 at 8:43 am

Posted in General

About

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

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

February 10, 2015 at 8:20 pm

Posted in General

Book Review: It’s an issue Jim, but not as we know it

Last October I read an interview with Eric Dezenhall on the changing dynamics of issues management that piqued my attention.

Dezenhall, who was promoting his new book: “Glass Jaw: A Manifesto for Defending Fragile Reputations in an Age of Instant Scandal”, was incredibly pragmatic about how the combination of technological and social trends have changed the nature of a crisis.  Furthermore, he believes that the idea that there is a magic PR potion that can solve any reputational issue is nonsense:

"Most crises are not resolved through rhetoric. They are resolved through operations. What’s more ethical, doing what Exxon did and recognize after Valdez that the PR war was over—and then they spent 25 years investing in double-hulled ships and radically overhauling their safety procedures, and they’ve never had a major incident since—or do you do what BP did and spend half a billion dollars saying you’re a wind and solar company?"

I finally got to read Glass Jaw over the break and I’d recommend it.

In a world where the physical and virtual book shelves are filled with Harry Potter-esque tales of social media hocus pocus, Dezenhall provides a pragmatic, real-world view of how the world has changed and reputational risk has changed along with it.

 

For me, a good business book combines opinion, insight and knowledge that ultimately combine to provoke the reader to think. That doesn’t necessarily mean I agree with the author throughout – and there are some elements of his thesis that merit future discussion – but on the whole it’s a recommended read, if only to challenge you to think harder about how you approach issues management.

As you would expect, Glass Jaw presents a pretty grim picture for people responsible for the positive image and reputation of their employer or client. The emergence of social media and the associated culture of overreaction, coupled with the changes we’re seeing more broadly in society are combining to create a difficult issues environment.

It’s interesting to note that PR people aren’t exactly helping themselves or their colleagues either. I completely echo the author’s sentiment that you can’t work in issues management and not have a ‘deep empathy’ for people fighting a reputational issue.

This makes it all the more surprising to see the rise of the ‘self-invented pundit class that declares the controversy to have been mismanaged’.

He acknowledges that ‘in most crises, there are things that could have been done better, and reflection is constructive. Most high stakes situations include experimental actions – some effective, some not – and we do our best to make more good decisions than bad ones’.

Let me digress from the book for a moment. Having spent a lot of time dealing with a wide array of issues – large and small – I really don’t have any time for the ill-informed armchair pontification that accompanies a reputational issue. Anyone who has been embroiled in a real issue knows that it’s complex, challenging and often surprising. To think that someone sitting comfortably in their pajamas with no knowledge beyond what they’re reading on Twitter – and often not even that level of knowledge – can judge someone’s work is just wrong. In my opinion these ‘pundits’ are the PR profession’s equivalent of ambulance chasers.

Back to the book.

While the author does paint a great picture of the changes taking place that impact how effectively you can manage an issue, there are some things I don’t agree with.

For example, Dezenhall believes that ‘social media is of marginal value and often a disaster’ in crisis management. I both agree and disagree with him. I think it’s becoming increasingly difficult to decide when and more importantly when not to engage in social media, but I don’t agree it’s not a tool or channel that can help in the right circumstance – of course correctly identifying that timing and circumstance is the key.

He also believes there is no ‘trust bank’ and that commitments like Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) while worthwhile, do not inoculate against controversy. I agree that operating responsibly doesn’t give you a ‘get out of jail free’ card, but I’d also point out that if a company is committed to shared value, operating responsibly and meeting its commitments, it inherently reduces risk through more responsible decision making which in turn will aid organizational recovery.

There is always a risk when you’re reading a book about how the world of crisis communications is changing that you’ll finish it having lost all hope.

But there is hope. The world has changed. We deal with more issues today than ever before. Every issue is different, every issue has different dynamics,  we no longer have the luxury of a simple cookie cutt
er approach to successfully addressing an issue. Instead we must evaluate each issue on its own merits and act accordingly – in the knowledge that success is not guaranteed.

Glass Jaw is a welcome addition to this discussion. Just don’t be too depressed reading it. It’s not that bad :).

Written by Tom Murphy

January 6, 2015 at 12:33 pm

Posted in General

The truth teller

If you follow social media – and this probably relates more to blogs and Twitter than the other channels – you know there’s a lot of opinions on marketing and PR out there. 

Now, on the whole, this is a good thing, but at the same time, there’s often a lack of good, honest discussion of some of these opinions and memes.

So when someone provides a contrarian view on one of the sacred cows, it’s always worth a listen.

Designer Stefan Sagmeister addresses the question of “storytelling”…

//player.vimeo.com/video/98368484

You are not a storyteller – Stefan Sagmeister @ FITC from FITC on Vimeo.

Source: Darren Barefoot.

Written by Tom Murphy

July 31, 2014 at 9:02 am

Posted in General

FIR766: Enterprise Social

As a regular listener to For Immediate Release – hosted by Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz, I was listening to Monday’s episode which included an interesting discussion on Enterprise Social.  As a guy who works on the Microsoft Office PR team – which of course includes Yammer – this is a subject close to my heart.  I started writing a comment on their Google Plus community, but it was very long, so rather than annoy other members of the community I thought I’d paste the comment here and just provide a link.

Neville/Shel:

Interesting piece on Enterprise Social adoption (Disclaimer I work on the Microsoft Office PR team – which includes Yammer but I am also a long time FIR listener Smile). 

I’m not sure it’s a surprise that adoption rates of enterprise social are slower than ‘consumer social’ (or perhaps just social media?).  As you know the formal deployment of technology in a business is often slower for a multitude of reasons.

Enterprise social is often part of a broader company transformation – after all it enables people to work together in new ways. Telstra is an interesting example of that.

"It (Enterprise Social) has solicited a degree of honesty and openness. There’s occasionally a little bit of stuff that comes out, but I tell you I never jump in. It’s self-managing, because other people jump in.” David Thodey, CEO of Telstra. 

The majority of companies undertake initial pilots before taking the decision to deploy it more widely.  For example after an initial trial, UK retailer Tesco is now rolling out Enterprise Social to their 320,000 people.

Having said that, there is strong growth in the number of companies, teams and individuals using Enterprise Social. Although Yammer is only one of many enterprise social services, it is being used by over 500,000 organizations today. 

Shel’s point on the importance of app-based networks is a valid one, however I think you’ll find that most enterprise social providers already support apps so people can use them wherever they are – desktop, laptop, tablet and phone – and companies are putting serious effort into making it easier for employees to use it. Qantas is a good example:

As discussed on the show, greater integration of Enterprise Social with the tools people are using today will accelerate adoption and that’s why in Microsoft’s case (Ref: Disclaimer above) we’re integrating Yammer across Office 365, so you can use it with Outlook or collaborate on a document via Yammer etc.

Beyond the traditional benefits such as increased collaboration and productivity, the broad adoption of Enterprise Social enables a new set of intelligent tools and services that aid personal and group productivity.  Delve is a great example of this. It intelligently uses all the information and communications across your company to deliver the personalized information you need, where and when you need it.

Olso_dd_01

The real value of Enterprise Social is that it is helping people, teams and organizations to change how they work.  It’s something we call ‘’the ‘Responsive Org.  Adam Pisoni, co-founder of Yammer puts it well in this interview:

“Companies as they exist today were designed for the industrial revolution when most of the work was routine and repetitive …

“The world has become a giant network but companies have remained rigid hierarchies.”

“It’s not about the technology any more. There’s value in working differently. Tools like Yammer don’t work unless you change the way you work.”

Red Robin is just one company that has transformed its business using Enterprise Social:

Yummer is particularly remarkable because it gave a voice to the "silent" front-line workers at Red Robin. Prior to Yammer, these employees would pass information up the company management chain, but they rarely received feedback about what was done with the information.

The good news for Enterprise Social is that more and more companies are using it to transform how they work and many are seeing real, tangible, business outcomes. 

Finally I can’t finish without referencing FIR podcast network member Rachel Miller’s fantastic Yammertime resource.

Written by Tom Murphy

July 29, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Posted in General