Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’


Good PR or Copyright Landmine?

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
A screengrab of Shirt's nytimes.la site

A screengrab of Shirt's nytimes.la site

Earlier this month, a rapper named Shirt wrote an article about himself, but he did it under the byline of Jon Caramanica, a New York Times critic and hip-hop point man. He also selected snippets of text from previously-published articles, rounded it out with his own, and posted on the site nytimes.la, which was designed as a pretty good doppelganger for the real Times site.

Not only did Shirt, who did the site design himself, use the Times masthead and design, he also used the Times’ headlines, content preview, and photos. Of course, it doesn’t look completely identical –  among other things, the margins are different, the text isn’t as clear, and in his article, he made the style guide faux pas of writing “e-mail,” not “email.”

The nytimes.la homepage is a giant hyperlink to the real Times site, but is that enough to make up for using the New York Times proprietary design, not to mention the reporter’s name?

In the context of achieving his goal – getting attention – Shirt’s stunt was successful. But where is the line between great PR and breach of copyright? And is it a breach if he linked back to the Times? As with all copyright issues, it’s a murky one at best, and terms like fair use and parody are likely to come up if action is pursued.

We’ve discussed before that the FTC does not like ads disguised as editorial content, but that is in the context of paid native advertising, which this is not. So in building his own version of the New York Times online, did Shirt skirt the issue?

Like most brilliant PR moves , Shirt’s article got him a lot of press attention that he hadn’t previously received (including this insightful article from NPR about the struggles of hip-hop musicians trying to get noticed and about how Shirt operates). Getting noticed is the underlying directive of PR campaigns, which Shirt obviously did successfully, but the other question is, when the conversation moves on, will the few weeks of media notice make any difference?

Yes, it was a pretty good stunt. But PR pros know that good PR is a continuing dialogue, not a one-off shout into the ether. It will be interesting to see whether there are any aftershocks from Shirt’s article, or whether it disappears.

Where do you think the line is between good PR and copyright breach?

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How to Build a Brand Using Compelling Content

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

How to Build a Brand Using Compelling Content BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Tressa RobbinsAs public relations and communications professionals, we all create content. Writing is a core competency to this profession, and is frequently discussed with and emphasized to those preparing for a career in PR.  While it’s still true that writing skills are critical, and are no less important than they were, storytelling is now more than just words.

At a recent IABC St. Louis and PRSA St. Louis joint event, Dave Collett, EVP and GM of Weber Shandwick St. Louis, and Chris Vary, VP digital at Weber Shandwick Southwest, offered examples and tips on how to create compelling content that stands out.

The world’s digital content is increasingly findable and sharable. There is a volume explosion occurring in social and digital content!  Using content from an EMC Study called “Extracting Value from Chaos,”  Collett and Vary showed a chart demonstrating the growth—about nine times what it was five years ago. In 2011, that was 1.8 zettabytes (new word for me—one zettabyte is approximately one billion terabytes, which in bytes is a one followed by 21 zeros).  The study also estimates that by 2015, there will be 7.9 zettabytes of data in existence.  These numbers are more than staggering, they’re overwhelming! With the amounts of content filling up cyberspace, your content must be as compelling as ever.

What makes content contagious?  According to Vary and Collett, you should ask yourself why would people care, and why would people share? The answers should be that the content is:

  • Educational, but in a different way
  • Entertaining
  • Emotionally Engaging

They offered up several examples of wildly popular campaigns. Red Bull’s Stratos –  Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic freefall from 128,000 feet – which broke all kinds of records (and not just the physical ones). This demonstrates Red Bull’s success with promoting a lifestyle, not just a product.

You don’t have to have those kinds of numbers for your campaign to be a success. Vary and Collett presented another example–Stratasys, a company that makes 3D printers. They “printed” a robotic exoskeleton for a little girl who couldn’t raise her arms. She dubbed them her “magic arms.” There was lots of media coverage and I dare you to watch the YouTube video and not get a little misty-eyed. (Note if you’re in a hurry, after the first two minutes, jump to 2:55 for the rest.) This is an emotionally engaging example of focusing on the human side and the product’s effect of on people.

Content doesn’t always have to be serious. Content doesn’t have to be expensive, either.  It can even be irreverent—depending, of course, on your industry and organization’s business mission. Just take a look at DollarShaveClub.com’s brotastic and amusing  “Our Blades are F***ing Great” campaign.

Vary and Collett stressed that while these are all YouTube examples, and video is a great platform, compelling content doesn’t have to be video.  Mappings have been trending in the past year or so. Haven’t we all done the New York Times Online questionnaire that asks you questions about your vernacular and then predicts where you live or are from? Facebook offered up its own version of mapping with the NFL team allegiance charts. You can create features like this yourself by using the Facebook graph search, using U.S. census data, or another data source—the key is to package it in a compelling manner.

The bottom line is, it’s not just about awareness anymore. PR now creates awareness and engagement—actions, enrollments, sales, whatever—to support the overall business objectives of the organization.  What are some of the most compelling pieces of content you’ve seen recently, and what aspects have you applied to your own content? How do you continue to create compelling content, and where do you find your inspiration?

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When Marketing Tactics Mean Missed Media Mentions

Monday, December 9th, 2013

When Marketing Tactics Mean Missed Media Mentions Beijing Air Purifiers Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Fresh IdeasThe toxic air in Beijing and other cities in China is an environmental and public health disaster, but it’s an enormous opportunity for air purifier providers – Beijing alone has an estimated population of 20.6 million people. The US Embassy in Beijing recently placed a massive order for “more than a couple thousand” but “under five thousand” air purifiers. They ordered from the US provider of Blueair, a Swedish company, but the article also mentioned Blueair’s competitor, IQAir.

I lived in China for four years, and for almost a year before becoming a magazine editor, I managed the Beijing branch of a China-based company with exclusive dealer rights to an American air purifier brand. The most notable thing in the New York Times article: The brand I sold wasn’t even mentioned, and they’ve been in China for years. What happened?

I learned a lot about marketing from watching what happened at this provider. Here are a few things I noticed when I was there that caused the brand to miss out on what could have been a very valuable media mention.

Disregarding market differences. The dealer I worked for is headquartered in Shanghai, but expanded to Beijing when I arrived at the company. Their advertising and marketing efforts had modest success in Shanghai, and it was decided that Beijing would employ the same strategy and tactics as Shanghai.

Both Blueair and IQAir enjoyed far stronger brand recognition in Beijing than they did in Shanghai. Our retailer didn’t need to advertise and market aggressively in Shanghai, so declined to do so in Beijing. As a result, even years after I left the company, there still wasn’t widespread brand recognition.

Lesson: Be willing to go through a trial-and-error process when targeting a new market or segment, and adjust your strategy to the actual market.

Marketing with tunnel vision. The company relied on print ads in one magazine and attending international school fairs. Unlike the Shanghai market, the Beijing target market has more niches and is geographically more spread out, and between the ads and the fairs, we reached a very small slice of the target market and saw little return on those tactics. We concentrated more on that small return than on long-term growth.

Lesson: Continually assess ROI from all your efforts, and diversify marketing strategies; you can’t expect different  results from doing the same thing. Don’t mistake making progress for getting results.

Not engaging the most influential media outlets. In Beijing, there are maybe half a dozen English-language magazines competing for the expat market, so advertising in these magazines is the best way to build recognition in the international community. Our brand spent almost all the marketing budget advertising in first one, then another, of the least-read of these publications.

The head office wouldn’t even talk to sales reps from the most-read publications in Beijing. They not only lost eyeballs on what could have been valuable advertising, but they also shut off any form of communication, meaning they couldn’t become experts or resources by providing comments or information in articles.

Whenever the big magazines wrote about air quality or air purifiers (which was fairly frequently, since it’s a prominent problem), our competitors, IQAir and Blueair, were mentioned and experts from their company quoted. The brand I worked for was never mentioned, which is exactly what happened in this New York Times article.

Lesson: Advertising doesn’t equal coverage, but don’t shut your organization off by refusing all calls. You can’t become a resource if you won’t talk to anyone. And if you’re going to advertise at all, make sure that outlet fits your strategic goals as well as your budget.

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BurrellesLuce Backs Media in AP Lawsuit

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

The advent of digital technology has created some pretty interesting debates over the fair use of copyrighted content and how publishers can be paid for their news contributions and protect their copyrights.

By violating copyright – even inadvertently – PR professionals can expose their organization, clients, and constituents to a number of liabilities. That is why BurrellesLuce has worked directly with publishers and other content providers (for close to 30 years) to establish use agreements that pay publishers royalty fees and allow our customers worry-free access to copyrighted content.

We are staunch supporters of commercial use of content with the expectation that those providing a similar services to ours should also pay for the use of the content. We are also long-time members of the The Software and Industry Information Association (SIIA) and believe that people, including PR and communications practitioners, should pay for commercial use of content. We have had a turnkey copyright compliance program in place since 2008 and we work to educate our customers on copyright compliance and the proper use of licensed content.

The same cannot be said for other companies in the media monitoring and evaluation space. Some aggregators, posing as monitoring services or search engines – depending on what best serves their position of the day – are not curating content, but archiving and hosting a database of publisher’s content. This creates challenges for PR and marketing pros, and some media monitoring firms expose their clients to potential liability.

At BurrellesLuce we curate content on behalf of our clients and charge a royalty. Those royalties go back to the publishers. PR professionals are understanding, more and more, why these measures are necessary. They recognize the difference between a genuine media monitoring service and an aggregator. They realize they may be exposing their organization, as well as their clients, to substantial copyright liability by using the latter.

The difference is best outlined in an article by Neiman Journalism Labs, which discusses the difference between search engines and aggregators.  A search engine, like Google and its “free” business model, typically provides links to the original content and pays a licencing fee to the copyright owners, while aggregators repackage the publishers’ copyrighted material, send it to their customers, and charge their customers without paying a royalty to the publishers.  As a genuine full-service media monitor, BurrellesLuce uses a business model that ensures that the publishers get paid for the use of their copyrighted content, and gives our customers the peace of mind that comes with compliance with the law.

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In PR and the Media: September 15, 2011

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Near the 5-Inch Heels, Guerrillas on Four Wheels (NYTimes.com)
“EVERYONE was expecting New York Fashion Week to embrace mobile this fall. They just didn’t mean vehicles. Plastered with logos — and offering free food, cosmetics samples or mini-makeovers — cars and trucks sponsored by brands have become almost as ubiquitous during the past week’s events as five-inch heels.”

1st Female Editor Denies Influence of Gender (Maynard Institute)
“Jill Abramson, who last week became the first female editor of the New York Times in its 160-year history, said Sunday, ‘The idea that women journalists bring a different taste in stories or sensibility isn’t true.’ The statement was challenged by women who have studied the topic of women in journalism.

Shoppers Via Twitter Spend More, Online Behavior Impacts Retail (MediaPost)
“Shoppers who land on retail sites through Facebook or Twitter are less likely to make purchases. Their conversion rates average 1.2% and 0.5%, respectively. Per average order, however, they spend more than those who come through Google.”

UPDATE: Facebook Suggests Subscribing To Profiles (All Facebook)
“Facebook is suggesting that you subscribe to people’s public status updates and customize how much of their feeds you receive. The site is rolling out a new subscribe button that will enable you to receive in your news feed publicly visible status updates from people who aren’t yet on your friend list.”

Are Big Media’s Partnerships With Seattle ‘Indies’ the Future of Hyperlocal? (StreetFight)
“In the furiously expanding, highly competitive and often conflicted hyperlocal space, some pieces appear to be coming together. Just possibly, highly digital Seattle may be the birthplace for what has long eluded hyperlocal: a sustainable business model.”

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