Oral Histories

Jim Murphy

Interview Segments on Topic: Terminology

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: I want to get a few more questions about that in a couple minutes… but let me ask you a little bit about terminology. Recently public relations, communications marketing, and advertising were all mottled together and it’s especially apparent with advertising and public relations in both the corporate and agency side and then there’s this whole thing about branding. Where does that lie? Could you talk about some of the changes that have happened in the terminology within the industry now?

Murphy: Well the terminology discussion has been going on since forever, okay, about What’s public relations? What’s public affairs? What’s corporate communications? Where does the marketing and advertising start? I think you should you have to step back and look at it. This is a business problem or business opportunity for an enterprise. And how they deal with all the constituents. And each company is probably going to be different about this because people are different. Markets are different. Circumstances are different. Investment..looked at a spectrum of closer to the commercial end of things over to the more societal end of things, you’d see sales way over here. Marketing sort of in the middle. You’d see corporate communications here. Then you start to see public affairs. Government affairs. Corporate citizenship over this other end and social responsibility. That’s a CEO’s job. Now how he or she decides how to do all that it’s really individual. Ideally he’d find someone not necessarily the sales piece but the rest of it he’d find somebody who could do it all and oversee it all, but it’s hard to find people with that kind of experience. So to me, it’s more it’s a debate about the people you have and the capabilities that they have to handle the spectrum as opposed to labeling the spectrum or putting one label on one piece and arguing about which is the right angle for the right piece. I think the debate about the language is academic. I mean excuse the expression, but it’s not that important. It’s what important is understanding interplay of all these activities with your major constituents and managing properly. And our speaker at this meeting, CEO from Abbott really gets it about handling all that. And we were very impressed last night by his remarks regarding that so. So the debate over language to me is not a big deal. But I’m sure we will be hearing about it for years. So.

Interviewer: Right. I really wanted to capture your

Murphy: But if you think about the spectrum of how you deal with the external constituents and of course your internal ones too. And think about that that’s the space you should spend your time worrying about, not about what labels on which piece.

Interviewer: Okay you are looking for that individual who will be able to handle that whole continuum, what you were just speaking to.

Murphy: Right.