If you don’t have copyright, it could be catastrophic. Just ask STA

Posted in Uncategorized.
Blue Steel

Copyright quickbrownfox

With all this publishing we’re all doing across social media, it’s easy to get carried away and see a great photo you like and just add it to your post. It won’t matter, right? Wrong.

STA Travel just found out the hard way that using a great shot you’ve found, without asking permission of the owner of said shot, can get you into hot water.

It seems they saw a photo online from a former customer and thought “that would look great in our own work” and just went ahead and used it both online and then in a printed brochure.

Now I hear you saying, “oh how silly of them, who does that?”. But think about it. When was the last time you added a photo to one of your posts without purchasing it or gaining approval from the owner of the image to use it? Or did you just go to Flickr, Google Images, or see something in your own feed and save it down and use it? We’ve all done it, some knowingly running the gauntlet and some unwittingly. But it’s all breaching copyright and you could find yourself in the same hot water STA are now in.

STA have done the right thing and taken the image down, but the owner of the photo still retains the right to sue them. Tricky situation because it breaches not only her copyright but also her privacy rights (a photo where the person can be identified falls under the Privacy Act). The ball is now in her court.

The hard part is that some sites say their images are ‘free to use’, but they rely on you to seek permission to publish. It’s easy to see how you can get into strife without realising it.

The best rule of thumb is – if you didn’t take the shot and seek permission from the talent shown within that shot to use it for promotional purposes, then you will need to either get approval to use or pay for it – or end up paying for it in other ways.

There are some great sites that let you buy images quite cheaply – Shutterstock, iStock, Stocksy and more – a quick Internet search will show you plenty to choose from. These sites you pay for the image but at least you know you’ve got permission to publish. As for the ‘free’ sites, be sure that if you’re using an image from these guys, you check the fine print to ensure you do indeed have permission to use.

*Meeshka the cat provided permission for quickbrownfox to use this image for promotional purpose

Xmas Ducks in a Row

Posted in Marketing, Social Media.

quickbrownfox christmasWith only 3 weekends to Christmas, it’s time to get a few of your ducks in a row if you haven’t done so already. Here’s a few things that might help in getting December off to a great start…

  • The festive season is not just for retailers
    Even if you don’t sell retail products, you can still promote to and engage your audience at this time of year. What about creating an offer you can tailor to the season? Or ask your database to share the cheer and give you suggestions for new services or products? You could ask your customers to upload a picture of their team in festive outfits using your product or service to your social media pages. Or perhaps find a way to count down the 12 days of Christmas? It doesn’t just have to be for the department store sales – you too can connect with your customers and followers.
  • Santa uses his branding well, so should you
    This time of year is a great time to thank your client base (and your key suppliers and staff), be that with a card or perhaps a personalised gift. And it’s a perfect opportunity to let your brand come to life for them. Get your cards made with your branding strong and proud (digital printing is really affordable now) and if you’re buying a gift, find ways to link this with your branding (for example, rather than a pen, you could do a branded cup cake). Get clever, your audience will appreciate your effort.
  • Being social takes planning
    With January only weeks away, you need to have your next round of blog posts decided and planned out, along with your posting strategy for your social media accounts. Take the time to review the stats and find out when is the best time to post to each for you and what seems to get the best reactions and tailor next year’s posts accordingly. Even writing 3 months of content in advance can take a huge amount of pressure off – and will allow you to look and feel more strategic about things. With many folks away in the few weeks over Christmas and New Year, it’s a great time to get ahead of the pack.

Hopefully you’ll get some time off to reflect on a great year and look forward to an even better one in 2015. Enjoy.

Privacy laws and SPAM (and not the porcine kind)

Posted in Uncategorized.

 

UPDATE: As at 12 March 2014, the Australian Privacy Laws changed. So if you hold a customer database or sell products to customers where you hold their information and you have a turnover of $3m or more, then you need to read up on what’s different so you don’t get into any strife. They’ve put together a nifty PDF that gives you the drum, which offers hours of entertaining reading.

The short story is:

  • there’s some things you need to be sure your Privacy Policy now states (read the PDF for the list)
  • you have to make this Policy readily available and easily accessible
  • be careful about the types of information you request and store
  • storage and use of personal data must be safe
  • and there’s a new mandatory credit reporting privacy code

It’s dry reading and a little bit government-speak, so if in doubt, get your legal team to review your processes so that you don’t find yourself accidentally contravening this new policy. Unfortunately, “I didn’t know” won’t cut it.spam

While we’re talking about policies, it’s probably timely to also remind yourself of the Australian SPAM Act and make sure you’re not emailing people willy-nilly without their consent. If you are promoting your business in any way (other than just your logo), then you MUST have the permission of the recipient. You can read more here to ensure you’re following the rules properly. It’s important you don’t break the law, but it’s even more important that the audience you are mailing to are engaged and want to hear from you.

Bedtime reading anyone?

 

when PR goes bad

Posted in Copywriting, Marketing, Public Relations.

Butterfly-gate

monarchbutterfly

This week we were reminded of why a ‘PR stunt’ needs to be thought through from every angle before releasing it into the wild – literally. Sydney PR firm, ‘Free Publicity’, sent live butterflies to journalists to promote the DVD release of ‘Under the Dome’.

Now, whilst technically ‘on brand’ (butterflies form a major theme of the show), sending a journalist a live butterfly in an envelope is not cool (even if “great care was taken” to ensure their safety).

It certainly gained some publicity, but not the good kind. It also didn’t help that the PR firm managed a clanger of a typo in their pre-release (asking if the journalist would be in office to “except” the delivery). Cut-through is one thing, but sensitivity to how your idea might be received cannot be overlooked (nor can spell-check). And, given this is actually not a new idea (yes, some other firm did this back in August), it begs the question ‘what on earth were they thinking?’ There’s some serious damage-control going on now in the firm and I suspect some disappointment they didn’t run with a ‘snow dome’ option instead.

PR is a tricky and fickle thing. Get it right and you can have media stories galore about your product and brand. Get it wrong and well, the opportunity flies out the door.

If you need some PR ideas to get your product noticed (that don’t involve sending live animals in the mail), we’d be happy to help.

 

 

Is it a bad thing to use a stock image?

Posted in Advertising, Marketing, Social Media.
Marketing brisbane

There’s so many for and against arguments it’s hard to take a side on this one, but it is a question that comes up a lot within marketing circles – is it a bad thing to use a stock image?

Well, as usual, the answer is, it depends.

The case for:

  • if your budget is tight and if you have a specialised product or service where the chances of anyone else using the same stock image to promote their similar service is minimal, then sometimes stock images can suit your purpose (see my cute fox stock images as an example)
  • if you’re preparing a presentation and it needs some life added but you don’t own enough images, stock shots can play a good part here
  • your facebook posts will always do better if there’s an image involved, and now that they’re giving you free access to Shutterstock images for that precise purpose, there’s a great reason to keep your info fresh using stock imagery (see the quickbrownfox facebook page post on this for more detail)
  • it’s also true for other social media like LinkedIn and blogs – imagery can really bring these to life, so adding stock imagery can be a good way to achieve this without breaking the bank

The case against:

  • at the end of the day we’re talking about your brand image. So using someone else’s interpretation of that might be at odds with your purpose. In the quickbrownfox case, we are unlikely to be able to get a suitable fox to provide an appropriate facial expression at an achievable cost, so in this instance it falls into the ‘case for’. But generally your brand will need to showcase a skill, a mood, your people or give an insight into your brand’s personality which should come from within, not from an image library trying to hit multiple marks
  • photography is not as expensive as you think. At minimum, you need a hero image (or 2) and some support shots that help bring your brand to life so we’re not talking a 5 day shoot here necessarily. You will have invested in getting your logo, website design, copy writing, and collateral materials right – don’t let it all down with a stock image of ‘people shaking hands’ or ‘happy smiling corporate people’
  • you will own these images and no one else can use them without your permission. So you won’t find your competitors using exactly the same shot to promote their (perhaps inferior) product offer
  • imagery is emotive – it’s supposed to be. So make sure you don’t compromise on the emotion you evoke with your consumer – they’ll see right through it

At the end of the day it will come down to a combination of budget and intent. If you can, you should always aim to take and own your own shots. But for the right purpose and in the right circumstance, a stock shot might just do the trick.

5 things NOT to do to your customers…

Posted in Advertising, Marketing.

We thought you might enjoy these helpful tips the folks at Marketing magazine shared:

1. Don’t get their brand name wrong > Check the spelling of their brand, especially weird use of caps and their nuances (eg PayPal, quickbrownfox, eBay). Note that goes for the client’s name too!

2. Don’t quote price ranges > If you say the cost is between $500 and $800 – they’ll always hear the lower amount. Same goes for time frames. Use exact numbers to avoid disappointment all round

3. Don’t say ‘but’ > Using ‘but’ can sound like you’re not going to resolve the issue. Try using ‘and’ or moving straight to solutions “Monday isn’t possible – I’ll get priority on your project and have it by Tuesday 10am – is that ok with you?”

4. Don’t go in blind > Got a new client or contact? Don’t say “And what do you do?”. Do a little homework and then get them to elaborate…”From my research I understand you do X – tell me more”

5. Don’t put the ‘A Team’ on the project > Telling them they’ve got the ‘A Team’ suggests you also have a ‘B Team’ who they might get next time. Instead tell them your philosophy is to hire only the best people at what they do and you’ve cherry-picked the team members that will best suit this specific project’s needs to get the best result.

While most of us would never do any of the things listed above, I bet a few of you have had it done to you!

December Checklist

Posted in Marketing.

ChristmasIt’s nearly here! Time to kick back and relax and reflect on the year that was and take a moment for some serious R&R. But before you reach for that tempting glass of eggnog, here’s a few items you may wish to tick off your list…

  • Nurture your relationships
    Now’s a great time to contact your clients (and suppliers) to do a yearly wrap up with them. Rather than making a last ditch effort to ‘sell them’, instead take the time to nurture your relationship with them. For your key clients, consider taking a gift in personally or inviting them to lunch/dinner/drinks. Take the time to talk about their year, their needs and their future so you can better understand their business and be of greater benefit to them in the new year
  • Spread the yuletide cheer
    If you’re sending Christmas cards out, sign them personally and ensure they’re mailed by no later 12 December as many folks go on leave early as part of school holidays (plus many like to showcase their cards in their office). So if you’ve not already sent these out, it’s time to officially panic and get thee to the post office. If you’re doing an online version, try to make it feel personal and consider making it a little trickier than ‘here’s something we created in Word’. The idea is to let them know you appreciate their custom and value the relationship. Now is not the time to go all cheap on them
  • Don’t forget your staff
    Make sure they know how valuable they are and how much you appreciate their contribution to the success of your business. Take the time to genuinely thank them (be it via a personal card with a small gift or a get together)
  • Let your community know your plans
    Add a footer to your email with the office closure dates asap (as early in December as you can), send an email to your database advising office closure dates and how to contact you if there’s an emergency. And, if you have social media sites, make sure you notify that community too of your pending office closure so they are kept in the loop. Consider using a message scheduling program (like Hootsuite) to pre-load some messages prior to Christmas and over the break to keep your profile up without having to put the eggnog down
  • Get ahead of the game
    Many businesses take this time period to wind down and take a holiday. If that’s not you, then use this unusually quiet time in the office to get ahead of the game and do some pre-planning for the next couple of quarters. Spend some time researching your competitors, other markets and your own plans to see if there’s an opportunity you can work into 2013

Then sit back with that eggnog and enjoy whatever time you may have to celebrate and reflect on your last year.
Cheers!

Pinterest(ing)

Posted in Social Media.

New social website Pinterest:  New kid on the block, Pinterest, is causing a bit of a stir, and for good reason. The site lets you simply post images of things of interest to you and others. For brands, this is a terrific forum to share your product line and things that inspire your work (think florists, photographers, interior designers, web designers – anybody with anything creative to share).

From a demographic point of view, it skews high to females, but that’s because it’s early days. For now, my advice to those of you who don’t have a ‘widget’ or ‘widget style service’ to sell on line and are not from a creative industry, I’d hold tight. But, I would get on and have a look at what is happening on this site as soon there may come a time when it is right for you to be there so you should get a feel for it.

On a personal note, you might find this site interesting nonetheless. Recipes, sports, funnies, gardening, travel, pets – you name it, it’s on there (yes, even porn which is causing an even bigger stir in the market right now!). So, while you might not be interested from a business point of view, this might tickle your own personal creative fancy in the interim.

To get in, you need to go to http://pinterest.com/ and request an invite. Or, just have a sniff about their site and see what interests you.

What have we done at quickbrownfox? Well, we joined to secure a user name so no-one else could take it. And, we’re sniffing about on the site to get a feel for how it works so we can share that info with you. Soon, we’ll have our own site up live as much of the content we post on facebook and twitter fits perfectly with this style of site (mainly the ‘what were they thinking” style of ads). Whatever you decide to do, make it (pin)interesting for others to view or you’ll be posting for no outcome.

If you are interested in setting up a pinterest page for your business, here’s some handy tips to make the most out of it. Hubspot have published a sensational free ebook on the subject. So if you’d like a copy just download from here. Big thanks to the folks at Hubspot for providing this (note, I’m not affiliated with them nor do I endorse their work, but this ebook has great advice and is definitely worth the read if you’re interested in making the most of your business site).

how to use Pinterest for business_Hubspot Feb12

Happy pinning!

Is automating your social media account a sin?

Posted in Social Media.

Some businesses are reaping the efficiency rewards of using automation programs (like Hootsuite and SocialOomph) to pre-load their status updates for facebook,Twitter and for their blog posts.

But is this the right way to use the platforms and what will their followers think?

Well, not to sit on the fence, but your success in using automation depends on how you manage it.

As it is in any form of communication you use to engage with your target market (in this case ‘followers’ and ‘community’), it’s important that you don’t find yourself talking at them but rather speaking with them.

It’s really no different to any communication strategy. It’s just like a brand or product owner devising a series of print or TV ads (each with a different message and building on the last ad) and pre-booking them into magazines and TV programs throughout the year to guarantee their ‘spots’. Every message is tailored to the environment in which it’s being booked (well, at least it’s supposed to be) and, despite many companies constantly breaking the ‘rules’, you won’t get the results if you put 20 lines of copy up on a billboard (don’t even start me on this topic!), So the same goes for social media – don’t use print media or ‘sales flyer’ language if you want to get results.

So in this sense, using auto-post programs can be considered a smart way to create efficiencies for your business – but you do need to stick to the ‘rules’.

How does it work?
Once you’ve written your marketing strategy and know what you want to say and to whom, you can create a number of topic categories you want to share with your audience and then write the content for those – right out to 12 months if you wish. For example, a quickbrownfoxclient (a band called the Electric 80s Show ) has just implemented an automated system to keep their fans engaged and involved with their brand. We wrote 12 months worth of updates for their facebook and Twitter accounts under topic categories such as 80s Facts, 80s Lyrics, funny band riders, and a special ‘flashback friday’ post with a classic 80s YouTube link for a little 80s reminiscing. All stuff their audience are interested in and want to hear about.

Rather than having someone from the band sit down every day, research, type and post these updates, it’s all been pre-done and is now sitting happily in an automated system where it posts out on the schedule we’ve set without them having to lift a finger. Nice.

The system will send out these ‘love bites’ to your audience to keep your brand in their mindset and to build rapport. Sooth-sayers in the industry suggest it takes 7 interactions with your brand before your target is prepared to buy. This is one way to build your credibility in your area of expertise and create an environment that encourages interaction.

These systems can also offer ‘friend finder’ searches, send automatic ‘thanks for following us’ DMs, and allow bulk uploads (which I’ve used and rate BIG time).

What it doesn’t do
Now that you’ve got this rapport-building strategy in place, it’s not like you actually just walk away. You do still need to monitor the account. As your audience responds to your posts, you need to be engaging right on back. A one-way conversation doesn’t last long and soon you’ll find you’re just talking to yourself. This is where a monitoring platform is good to be able to keep track of what is being said and how you can then better engage with the community to again keep you as efficient as possible.

You still need to reply to posts, retweet where you think it’s relevant and post current topical information along the way. But the automation program will take care of the main job of building rapport.

Which one should you use?
Well, without gushing, I’ve reviewed many of the automation programs out there and I’ve decided (as have many others) that there are two main contenders.

For the automation and bulk uploads, my recommendation is SocialOomph Pro for it’s ease of use and uber cool functionality (having used it for a while now, I feel like my inner-geek has been released!). Their homepage is tough to make sense of and looks very busy, but having now used it extensively, I can’t go past it. The key winning features are the bulk upload to list ‘reservoirs’ that are pre-scheduled to time and date (you simply upload a plain text file of all your updates and it schedules them…this is a GREAT feature); friend finder (including followers ‘with clout’); and the ability to easily manage a range of pre-ordained posts. It lets you schedule posts to a range of social platforms including Twitter, facebook as well as a blog feed.

Then, to monitor and do some ‘along the way’ posts to your platforms, I’m finding HootSuite to be easier to use than other platforms (I moved across from Tweetdeck and I’m happy with the switch). You can list and review your Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, foursquare and some blog platforms in an easy to view page as well as do some minor scheduling of posts. They also allow you to geographically search for hashtags and keywords. It’s really a terrific way to keep track of what’s being said and letting you easily interact.

Using them in conjunction means you can schedule and then manage your campaign without fuss and within limited time frames.

So, I would suggest that automating some of your messages is indeed not a sin. It’s a smart way to efficiently manage your marketing strategy. As long as you’re wily about it!