Pinterest’s PR Positives and Copyright Calamities

An interesting infographic from Lemon.ly, via Mashable. Click the picture to view the article.

I LOVE Pinterest. When my friend Mel first sent me an invite about a year ago, I was instantly addicted. The concept, the design, how easy it is to use, I thought it was just brilliant. As a personal user, I even actually attempt projects that I pin.

As someone who wants to practice PR, the fact that people are actually doing what they pin just makes me smile. The whole point of PR is to influence someone to do something and Pinterest is doing that.

The Pinterest craze among media outlets has been interesting to follow. At first everyone wondered what it was, then everyone became infatuated and then tech blogs kept talking about how influential it was and how it was driving traffic even more effectively than Twitter.

And then one of its most influential demographics found the flaw. Bloggers have recently become outraged to find that other Pinterest users are violating copyright by pinning photos without credit to the original source, even going so far as posting full recipes in pin text.

With my background in journalism, it’s second nature for me to check sources and fully read something before I pin. When I blog about things I find on Pinterest, I credit the orginal blogger, not Pinterest. Most users however, don’t.

A lot has been said on the issue of Pinterest and it’s copyright issues. One of my favorite food bloggers, Bluebonnets and Brownies, puts all the legal talk into very down to earth language here. She started a petition to at least get the pin character allowance down and emailed the Pinterest team.

Ben Silbermann, a co-founder of Pinterest, responded to her through email (you can view that in the same link, just scroll down). Silberman’s letter was respectful, written in a conversational tone and friendly. The limit was imposed and set at 500 characters. Gold stars in any PR grading book.

The day before that post, on Feb. 20, Silbmerann wrote a post in the official Pinterest blog about how site owners can also insert code into their site to prevent any photos from being pinned, allowing sites to “opt out” of the service.

These two small actions by Pinterest were smart both for business and public relations. They show that Pinterest is a user-oriented site with loyalty to its main contributors. Without the support of bloggers, Pinterest would not be nearly as successful as it is today.

This isn’t the end of all the copyright infringement headaches for Pinterest though. According to a post in Social Media Today, Pinterest could face legal ramifications in the future for knowingly supplying the means to infringe. While it’s not Pinterest’s intent to infringe on copyright, they are trying to monetize on the model, which is an actionable matter in court.

Are you a Pinterest user? Are you violating copyrights?

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Linsanity: A different type of PR crisis

Linsanity, the craze surrounding Knick’s star Jeremy Lin, has dominated news markets beyond the sports spectrum this February. After years of losing seasons and sexual harassment suits, the overwhelming positive buzz Lin has brought to the team is certainly welcome.

However an article in PR News raised a realistic media relations question:

“How should largely unexpected great news be handled by PR? Is it much like a crisis, but in reverse?”

PR pros are constantly on edge for bad coverage, with a plan in place to face a crisis head on. So why don’t we have a back-up plan in case news becomes too good, too fast?

The Madison Square Garden group is doing a good job “riding the wave” and packaging stories that are specific to different audiences.

The MSG team also seems to be following the constructs the article outlines: have a plan in place, create a “dream team” to respond to media requests and stay on track. Now they just have to avoid overdoing it.

The PR world can learn from explosive stories like Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin, whether or not you know which sport each one plays. To keep positive stories, regardless of the type of business, from becoming stale and overdone, PR teams should monitor the story, use the positive press as an opportunity to engage current stakeholders and gain new ones, and realize when the story is no longer relevant.

Update on My First Grad School Fail

Remember my first grad school fail? Who could forget, right?

I just got the grade back tonight and thought y’all would be interested in the outcome. Ready? Make sure you’re sitting down…

97

SHOCKED

My first thought was that the professor flipped the numbers and it should be a 79, but no, she really liked it (despite questioning us like terrorists).

I guess I’ll send Tim Cook that presentation after all….

First Grad School Presentation Fail

Last week I had my first big-girl graduate school presentation. If a picture can say a thousand words, this is how it went:

An interpretation of how my project went

Our task was to counsel Tim Cook moving forward as the CEO of Apple. Interestingly enough, our professor asked us this a week before Steve Job’s death.

My partner and I weren’t completely on the same page on a few things, but we compromised on both ends and came up with a presentation we could both stand behind.  She mostly did the business aspects of the project while I focused on media outreach.

I made what I thought was a great presentation via prezi, we were rehearsed, confident and prepared. At NYU, students and professors use a shared desktop instead of plugging in your personal laptop like at Seton Hall.

I pulled up the prezi site before class but didn’t run it through completely. Strike one. When it was our turn to present, the actual presentation didn’t work because the NYU computer didn’t have flash.

Seriously, who doesn’t have flash?

My SHU laptop and a helpful friend in class saved the day. I bravely, or maybe desperately, switched the overhead connection to my SHU laptop and the prezi worked.

A few slides in and we swung strike two. The business numbers my partner pulled up said that Apple “only” owned 28% of the global market. During our preparations I thought it was a lot, but at the risk of keeping our group together I didn’t question her further.

The professor however, questioned her much further. She went on for three minutes on how we were essentially dumb for not realizing that 28% is a lot of the global market. My partner may not have had her numbers clear, but as a partner I should have asked her to clarify more, but in a clear, non defensive way myself.

Strike three was my fault. My research showed that Steve Jobs was legendary in public relations, which in some senses he was. The professor stops the presentation and asks me in a sarcastic way, “You mean to tell me you think Steve Jobs was a friendly CEO?”

Everyone laughed. As soon as she said that I recalled a blog solely dedicated to Jobs’ jerk answers to consumers.  My heart sank. My research literally failed me.

I recovered by saying I admitted the mistake, and regardless our project wasn’t about Jobs, it was about Cook, and we wanted Cook to be friendly and accessible.

We finally finished the presentation. What should have been a clear 10 minute presentation turned into a 30 minute bashing. We then answered questions as best as we could, though I have to say most weren’t on topic.

We went back to our seats without so much as a pity clap. Not one.

I thought about brown-bagging it back on NJ Transit but realized I needed something stronger. I mentioned it in passing at the end of class to a friend, and he quickly rounds up a crew so that I don’t have to go alone. Awesome, I won’t just be whining to a bartender.

We went to the Southwest Porch across the street from school. We vented to each other about our professors, our classes, our projects and our commutes. But most importantly we learned from each other, we encouraged one another, and we helped each other sift through our problems.

And by the end of the night we all agreed that y’all is a very useful contraction and should be used more often.

This, I’ve learned, is how PR is. You put your heart into a campaign, you might mess up but you roll with it as graciously and as best as you can in the moment. You tell the truth, admit when you’re wrong and at the end of the day you move on with your new lessons with the help of your friends.

Is life the same? We had to sit there and question if this is the field we want to go in after a tough presentation like that. Deep down we all knew how our professor was treating us could be a foreshadowing of how most of the industry would treat us.

Were we ready for that? Were we ready to represent clients in situations like that?

I think that our support with each other that night showed us that we are. We all made at least three new friends that night, and not just because we were at some planned networking event.

And to me, that’s worth the $12 kiddie cup of bourbon and sweet tea.