Tuesday, March 25, 2014

'Free' Does Not Mean Free-For-All

By Sarah Larson

One of the world’s largest clearinghouses of visual content announced earlier this month that it would license millions of its images to the public for free. That allows me to show you this amazing photo of the aurora borealis over the mountains of Norway, my ancestral home. For free.
Free, however, does not mean free-for-all.

Many people were shocked when Getty Images announced on March 5 that it would allow millions of its photos and other visual content to be shared online, free, for non-commercial use.

“Getty Images is leading the way in creating a more visual world,” the company said in announcing the move. “Our new embed feature makes it easy, legal, and free for anybody to share our images on websites, blogs, and social media platforms.”

The new initiative hinges on an embedded player similar to that of YouTube. Simply visit Getty Images’ library, search for a photo, look for the </> symbol to identify embeddable photos, then copy the code to the HTML of your own site. Getty sends the image in an embedded player, including the photo’s full copyright information and a link back to the licensing page on Getty’s website.

Some hailed Getty's move as a the first step in a plan that must eventually include monetization. Others, as a death blow to a creative industry in which it is increasingly difficult for photographers to make a living at their craft.

While I reserve judgement on the economic implications of the move, Getty’s idea - which seemed ludicrous at first - now doesn’t seem quite so crazy.

Many people pull images from a Google search when they need a photo for their website,  newsletter, or blog, not realizing - or not caring - that the image belongs to someone else. Indeed, as we explained in a recent post on The PR Lawyer, the average blog author has little clue about the legal requirements of copyright.

At the same time, communication continues to become more visual, and from Snapchat to Instagram and beyond, photographs are an essential part of everyday life in today's world.

“Images are the communication medium of today and imagery has become the world’s most spoken language,” said Getty Images co-founder and CEO Jonathan Klein in the British Journal of Photography. “Whether via a blog, a website or social media, everyone is a publisher and increasingly visually literate.”

As Neiman Journalism Lab points out, Getty’s move is an attempt to make that rampant online sharing work in its favor:

"Getty’s not doing this out of the good of its heart. It recognizes that images on the Internet are treated as de facto public domain by many people on social networks, blogs, and the scummier parts of the content web. It knows it’s highly unlikely to ever get significant money out of any of those people. Even you and I, upstanding Internet citizens, are unlikely to license a photo to tweet it to our followers.

So if it can (a) get some people to use an embed instead of stealing while (b) making the experience just clunky enough that paying customers won’t want to use it, Getty could eke out a net win. (More on that second point below.)

What does Getty get from the embed? Better branding, for one — the Getty name all over the web. Better sharing, for another — if you click the Twitter or Tumblr buttons under the photos, the link goes to Getty, not to the publisher’s site."

The Neiman story further points out that Getty may collect data from those who use the embed feature and, most notably, “reserves the right to place advertisements in the Embedded Viewer or otherwise monetize its use without any compensation to you.”

So what does Getty’s move mean for those who would like to use the newly free photographs? What if, say, I wanted to illustrate a blog post about the Busojaras festival in Mohacs, Hungary, where I lived for two years?

If you want to take advantage of the sudden boost in the quality of your photographic resources, here are some points to remember:
  • The images are low-resolution, meant for online sharing, and are not print quality.
  • Getty’s images still are copyright-protected. What’s “free” is not the photo content itself, but rather a license to use it in certain contexts. Getty retains all intellectual property rights.
  • Free images may be used only for non-commercial purposes - but defining what is commercial and what is not historically has been tricky. 
Getty officials have said using a photograph in an ad to sell a product clearly is commercial use. But using a stock Getty image to illustrate this blog post - even though the blog is not for a nonprofit entity - probably would be allowable. In fact, even websites that make money from Google ads still would be allowed to use the free embedded images, according to an interview with Craig Peters, senior vice president of business development, content and marketing at Getty Images.

“We would not consider this commercial use,” Peters told the British Journal of Photography. “The fact today that a website is generating revenue would not limit the use of the embed. What would limit that use is if they used our imagery to promote a service, a product or their business." To use Getty photos in such advertising, he said, companies would need to get a license.

The full implications of Getty’s move will need time to play out. Meanwhile, though, it is clear that small bloggers and website publishers now have an additional safe, legal source to tap for powerful images to illustrate their messages.

Monday, March 10, 2014

How Does Your Advertising Message Hit Their Screens?

By Kim Tarasiewicz
Advertising Message is the “meat” of advertising or a commercial that attempts to convey what the advertiser intends through words and/or pictures.

That definition would have seemed simple 10 years ago, but with today’s ever-changing technology, advertising message can get lost in the clutter of emails, text messages, and other “device” campaigns. In advertising, one size does not fit all and finding the right message is as important as finding the right mix of media. Many consumers will have several screens open at their office or home at any given time during the day, so it may take sending the right message several times to build on your impact.

Initially, it’s important to clearly define your customer or client and then determine how they receive their messages. It may take some research to get the correct information, but this time spent will benefit the advertising dollars you will spend during the year. Consider a different format when serving your message to suit the needs of your customer. For example, a webinar or seminar will provide educational opportunities for the customer while allowing additional time spent with them to get your marketing message out there. While creative ads are fun, some industries call for a more formal approach, so know your customers and be consistent when communicating with them.

Google Analytics can be a great resource for determining how your customers read your text messages or which search engine they use most. When developing a campaign, add in a tracking mechanism such as unique phone numbers or website addresses and continue to check and re-check what is working and adjust for what is not. If using a software platform in your marketing, be sure it is one with the ability to adjust as you narrow down your customer focus. This will allow you to see what works for future decisions and advertising budgets.

How many Monday mornings do you open email and save it saying “I will read that later?” Your consumer is doing the same thing, which makes it important to get your message out quickly so as they scroll through messages during the day, your message stands out as most important. We found a great advertisement that captures the attention of everyone in the subway of Sweden. Now, while most companies won’t be able to go to these extremes; it shows the importance of an attention-grabbing campaign. When sending a message, quickly identify your company, be focused on the information you wish to portray, and give your customer something of value or make them feel special. If done properly, you have enticed them to visit your website, so be sure to keep current items on the site and be available to customers by checking your contact information regularly.

Whether using one of many new technologies, a billboard on the side of a highway, or a good old printed brochure, successful marketing relies on targeting your message by knowing your customer and their preferences and then giving them easy ways to contact you.

What has been your most creative way of finding your target audience?

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Crisis Averted - Advice From the Pros

By Sarah Larson

In today's world of instant, public communication, the next PR crisis is only as far away as the next tweet, Facebook post, or Oscars introduction. Just ask John Travolta, who is still taking a ribbing for mangling singer Idina Menzel's name as he introduced her at the recent awards show to sing her smash hit "Let It Go" from the movie Frozen.
Let's hope Travolta's people subscribe to SmartCEO. If they do, they can hurriedly flip to page 10 of the March/April issue to check out "Crisis Averted."

The latest edition of the business magazine features advice from leading public relations professionals on how to respond to crisis. It's a topic we here at Furia Rubel address frequently with our clients, so it's no surprise that our fearless leader Gina F. Rubel had some great advice to share.

For our clients, that advice will sound familiar: prepare responses to various scenarios well in advance, so you are ready to respond as quickly as possible if a crisis does break. Having a team in place, with guidance at the ready, will make all the difference in speedily addressing issues ranging from poor customer service to political feuds to egregious social media posts.

To read the full article, see the online edition of SmartCEO.

And if you want to feel like a star, visit Slate, to "Travoltify" your own name. On Tuesday, Slate editor David Plotz said on Twitter that "the John Travolta name generator is the most popular story in Slate history."

Maybe we should send Travolta's people the SmartCEO link....