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.