Oral Histories

Jim Murphy

Interview Segments on Topic: Selecting a PR Career

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.

Transcript

Interviewer:  What ultimately lead you to end up being in corporate and in an agency field?

Murphy: Well I started out in the newspaper business in Buffalo, New York and enjoyed it a lot but discovered you couldn’t make any money at it. And I had an opportunity to be a speech-writer for a CEO of a big company and I took it.  And from there it launched my career in public relations and eventually in a broader business assignments. I ran a division of a large company for a long time in addition to my public relations background and I broadened my experience into a marketing role, so and in my most recent role at Accenture I was chief marketing and communications officer so I have a pretty broad business background.

Interviewer: Okay.

Murphy: I wished 1974 by the way was the right year. It was 1958.

Interviewer: Where did I get ’74? 1958, yeah, okay 1958. Okay well during those years at Owens Corning and Beatrice and Merrill Lynch, did you have a mentor as you worked your way from strictly journalism expertise into speech writing and doing more of a role within public relations?

Murphy: I can’t say I really did. I mean I there were a number of people, very influential, but there wasn’t really one mentor. At Owens Corning I had opportunities to work with the CEO, so that gave me lots of exposure in the company and as I eventually ended up I was a division general manger. I moved out of public relations and went into line management.  And that was helped through that CEO’s involvement but I never thought of him as a mentor. It was just where I ended up.  And then I was recruited at both Beatrice and Merrill Lynch and there were people there who were recruiting me.  But if I never felt they were there trying to look out for my well being. Not that they were in any way negative, just, the mentor I think about is a professor, Professor Sutton at the University of Illinois, who got me, helped me get the first job.  And I was a guy working his way through the University of Illinois from Belleville, Illinois and didn’t have a lot of money and I have some ambition.  And there were a lot more qualified people I thought in my class that he could have recommended to this job in Buffalo but he recommended me for some reason. And it was interesting because it was a summer intern job with no guarantee you would get the job in September.  And I will never forget, I went to Buffalo, I was earning $52.50 a week. Lived in the YMCA and bet my life on three months of work and there was a guy from Harvard and a guy from Yale all competing for this job. Maybe they wanted more money or something but I got the job so it was great. So that’s how I got started, in journalism anyway so.