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Eye on the Internet: AudhumbLa's Docent Blog

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Using Images from the Internet

Develop Systematic Messages on the Web

The Internet is has caused marketing to be an ever changing landscape. It's made some things incredibly easy and others extremely difficult.

AudhumbLa is keeping an eye on what's happening and is happy to share her observations with you.

Using Images from or on the Internet

The use of image custom graphics, clip art, photography, and illustration creates the most confusion over copyright. When is an image open and reusable, versus when is it protected?  Audy has a few simple rules with regard to downloading and using images found on the Internet. If you want more information about

Be sure of the facts. If you find an image you want to re-use, check the copyright. Go to the web site where the image actually is not just the image search results and check for copyright restrictions. These can be co-located with the image in alt tags or adjacent text, elsewhere on the page, or on a copyright page. A separate copyright page must have a link to it from someplace on the page where the image resides. 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Forget the convenience of grabbing an image and running. Show others the respect for their business that you would expect for yours. If the image's owner says reuse prohibited or request permission for reuse, listen up.

Use common sense. If the image is to be part of your brand or a promotional campaign, make sure you have rights to its use. In fact, you should consider original artwork as you want your brand to be unique. And if you've paid for work for hire, make sure you actually own the work you don't want to have to pay the vendor for reuse.

Remember If no rules exist for an image's use, it's fair game. Though a word to the wise if you plan on using the image as a critical component of your business, you might want to e-mail the webmaster of the site where the image was found, asking for approval of its reuse. Better safe than sorry.

Protect yourself and your business assets as well. Regardless of whether your business asset is an image, a message, an implementation or approach or the results of the product/service provided, it needs to be protected.

If you think there's a value to an image, a message or an approach, and you post it on-line, include the appropriate legal statements. Be specific as to the terms of that asset's use, and the rights (if any) granted by its posting. It doesn't need to be written by lawyers or all-encompassing, it just needs to be clear and present.

If you're not sure about the definitions of copyrights, trademarkets, patents and the various classes of imagery, Click here.

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Systematic Message Platforms

Ever walk into a crowded room?  One where everybody is talking at once?  If you're not careful, your web site can be just like that crowded room full of noise, different voices, and oft-conflicting stories.  Each and every page of your web site press releases and other news, product information, general background, newsletter archives, and so on can be accessed one right after the other (or even all at once).  Each page, and the messages it contains, needs to be consistent, if not harmonious, with the other pages on your site.

Sounds simple, but 3 frequently-made mistakes prevent many message platforms from being systematic:

No leadership, a.k.a., "too many cooks" syndrome. 

Because your web site reflects your entire company, it's a common beginner's mistake to draft your messages by committee.  Bad, bad, bad.  Your messages need to be consistent and clear.  Otherwise, they're just noise.  So, assign someone control over what you say about all communications, and then make sure that they're involved with your web site.

Spontaneity, a.k.a., "ready, fire, aim" syndrome. 

You just don't have the time to worry about everything; just get that one change published.  Nice in theory, poor in practice your customers don't have time to waste but they do have time to research.  They'll find that inconsistency you've ignored, and they'll remember that about you.  Your webmaster is ultimately responsible for your site's clarity and consistency.  Make sure that maintaining these is part of their job.  Empower them with ability to say "NO" to underdeveloped messages, and listen to them when they spot an inconsistency.

Myopia, a.k.a., "product silo" syndrome. 

The bigger or more diversified a company gets, the greater the tendency to build a web site in "silos".  Each silo represents one particular product area, department, location, whatever.  To keep web site contents fresh, each silo owner manages their own information, including messages.  They know their piece of the business, but may not know much else.  And it's rare if they worry about if their pieces make sense and look professional when combined with the rest of the business.  Your Communications or Marketing executive should have ultimate say in knocking down silos or getting them to operate in unison.

Remember, bad customer impressions thrive in the absence of a systematic message platform.  You've seen it before.  Off-the-cuff remarks resulting in negative impressions that last.  Press releases that sound fine by themselves but raise questions when earlier statements are considered.  And the general perception that a company is leaderless and in disarray, or that "the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing".  Once it's on-line, your message platform will be scrutinized.  Do your messages hold up under this scrutiny?  If not, read Abullard's advice on how do develop a system for brand management. Click Here.

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