Oral Histories

Jim Murphy

Interview Segments on Topic: PR and Technology/Change

Jim Murphy Biography

James Murphy is the chairman and CEO of Murphy & Co.

Murphy was the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Accenture and current Chairman and CEO of Murphy and Company, a management consulting firm specializing in corporate marketing and communications.  Mr. Murphy successfully let the effort to rebrand and reposition Accenture in 2000 - 2001 which won widespread recognition for the company.

Mr. Murphy also chairs the PR Coalition, which focuses on issues of interest to all communications professionals and has been recognized for his expertise in government and investor relations, editorial and media activities, corporate advertising, crisis communications, marketing communications and philanthropy, plus many others professional skills.


Interviewer: Okay, let’s talk a little bit about the current state of PR and technology. In the past, traditionally [inaudible] to influence public opinion but now [inaudible] what we’re thinking may evolve in the future. Do you think you could use the traditional media?  Is it falling out of the PR toolbox and being replaced with all kinds of new technology, blogging, whatever?  And how does a PR who wants to create change actually accomplish it and how has technology changed that whole process?

Murphy: I think you have to look at it not from the toolbox but from the intermediary channels that you need to use to reach your audiences, no matter what business you are in. If those channels change, you better be there. The channels are changing with new media. So you got to be there. And I think the old channels will also be around but the emphasis on them will be quite different. I mean the newspapers are suffering everyday from obvious issues. Any kind of print journalism, unless it’s highly focused, is slipping. And everything is going to online and all the lack of control and all of the things we talked about are happening to us. But it’s all about making certain you know what channel your audience is going to be most susceptible to use, so that’s where you have to be and you’d better be there before your opposition or your antagonists are or you won’t win. You won’t win the battle of ideas or whatever else you are involved in so. Very important you understand it’s a channel thing that you don’t control. The channels are going to move on you. You just have to be there as they move and as they move so.

Interviewer: Okay well, that said, the second summit that you had was on diversity in the industry.

Murphy: Right.

Interviewer: So it’s been a few years now. Have you seen some…?

Murphy: Well we are going to launch, we’re going to launch the second wave of that this fall. And we’re going to see what’s happened.

Interviewer: What is that second wave?

Murphy: The second wave; that was a benchmark study. It was the diversity, I’m sorry, the research study we did as part of the summit, we talked to the heads of agencies, and the heads of large corporate departments and their attitudes and input about what’s happening with diversity in the profession. And it was a benchmark and it had X issues in it and things coming out of it. Now we’re going to do the second wave this fall to see what progress is going to be made. So we’ll see what happens right. That’s right.

Interviewer: Because it is a real concern.

Murphy: Absolutely!  One of the concerns is trying to find enough candidates. I mean the minority candidate today in public relations or marketing is in high demand. I mean, I know at Accenture we put on, I mean our recruiting numbers were not good in this space. And I go to the recruiting organizations and say what’s happening. Then we can’t find the candidates. We can’t find any candidates.  And when we do find them, there are ten other companies bidding for them and they are bidding their salaries up higher than we want to pay etc. etc. So I say, so you’re probably not doing this right. They are going to Northwestern looking for minority candidates like they go to Northwestern the last 25 years. Well you’re not going to find many more minority candidates there. Let’s go to places where they are. And so whether it’s Asian, whether it’s African American, whether it’s even American Indian / Native Americans we’re recruiting, where they are in Accenture now and we’ve I think we’ve, the last two years I think 30 percent of our intake were minorities, were getting into marketing functions. But it takes a special effort. You just can’t, you just can’t do what you’ve done in the past, because that’s the old expression, you keep doing the same thing over and over again, you get the same results.