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How to: Manage up in your PR job

March 17th, 2014

I’ve been out of the corporate/agency lifestyle now for four-plus years. Technically, I work for myself. I am my own boss.
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6 tips to building a better social media team in 2014

February 24th, 2014

A few weeks ago a client asked me the following question: If we were to start building out a social media team here, how would we go about doing that?
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Should Managers and Leaders be Separated?

February 3rd, 2014

I decided that in 2014 I want to do more videos. I have a Youtube channel but I haven’t really been using it. I’m hoping to a do a lot more videos talking about the future of work and collaboration starting with this one on managers and leaders. For some reason there’s a common assumption and a lot of talk around the separation of managers and leaders, however when it comes to the future of work, managers MUST be leaders.
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Creating a Boundaryless Organization

January 13th, 2014

The first and most important truth any leader must understand is that the human beings who work inside every kind of organization possess unlimited potential. They have the ability to solve any problem and the adaptability to respond to unforeseen circumstances. It may be the most overworked truism in the business world, but employees are indeed the most valuable resource and asset that any company has.
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Online community management is surrogacy

December 16th, 2013

Hiring someone to both speak and respond as you on social media is not cheating. Think of it as delegation: you can’t be everywhere, all the time. There’s just one you and there are upwards of 1.4 billion people who, at any moment, could engage you, your brand, company, product, or service — brands, companies, products, and services. Your slice of that always-open pie is surely fewer than the global membership of Facebook; however, even if your portion is modest, are you committed to not only producing content for online consumption (broadcasting) but listening, responding, and engaging, too?
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What Community Managers Need to Know About Copyrights

November 25th, 2013

*This wouldn’t be a proper blog post about legal “watchouts” if I didn’t include a disclaimer. The following post includes best practices, suggestions and my own interpretation of the laws. I am not an attorney – just a cautious social media marketer. Consult your brand’s legal team for specific guidelines and processes for your online communities.*

Pumping out quality content for your communities is one of the most rewarding, creative and fun activities in the life of a community manager. It’s natural, and even a best practice – to take inspiration from the things happening around you – trending topics, pop culture, breaking news, industry news and events, and even other brands.

But, there are “rules” for brands using social media that do not apply to the average citizen, media outlets and bloggers. One treacherous area for social media marketers is the use of third-party copyrights without permission.

Freedom of Speech?

For US-based businesses, this liberty doesn’t apply. Everything you say as a brand is a commercial. You wouldn’t say something, if it didn’t in some way help you meet a goal. The FTC further enforced this notion in March 2013 when it updated the .com disclosure document to apply to forms of social media.

Common Third-Party Copyrights

As a savvy marketer, you’re probably already familiar with copyrights. But, it can’t hurt to refresh your memory. Some examples of the most common third-party copyrights are:

  • Images of People
  • Images owned by other people & brands
  • Music, Songs, Lyrics
  • Books, Literary Works
  • Videos, Movies
  • Songs, Movies and Show Titles
  • Anything that is trademarked

What is NOT a Copyright?

  • Works in the public domain, which would include intellectual property whose rights are expired, such as a sonnet by Shakespeare.
  • Words, names, slogans or short phrases, blank forms, works that are not original, and government works. Examples include the popular expression, “attagirl!” or a government building code.

Lastly, don’t look for the absence of the © symbol as a license to use the content – works do not have to have © to be copyrighted.

What’s Copyright Infringement Exactly?

Copying or displaying copyrighted material without owner’s permission – Ex: sharing a copyrighted photo. Think of it as the business version of plagiarism.

It also includes:

  • the knowledge of infringement
  • the distribution of a product used to infringe

Who’s At Risk?

  • The brand uploading the material
  • In some cases, those who facilitate the upload/download
  • Agencies or vendors who provide the material
  • Those that have the ability to supervise direct infringement and receives direct financial interest from infringement

The key takeaway: Any time a brand uses another’s copyrights for their own marketing purposes, they are at risk for copyright infringement. Take for example, this meme of Dos Equis’ The Most Interesting Man in the World.

Dos Equis Meme


Had a brand used this meme in a Facebook post without permission from the copyright owner, that brand could be penalized. Copyright violations often carry hefty fines, so, ironically, the subject of copyrights isn’t at all an irrelevant legal concept.

Yet, it’s easy to find real examples from brands, which are likely all too familiar with copyrights themselves, that use a third-party’s copyrighted material in their social media channels. Take Denny’s use of this popular “Imminent Ned” meme from Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones Dennys Post

Technically, Denny’s should obtain permission from the copyright holder before using this image. Which they very well may have done.

Having a basic understanding of copyrights can keep you out of hot water. The world of copyrights is complicated and varies by state and country. But, having a basic understanding of third-party copyrights creates boundaries in which to operate safely. As a result, your content creation process may become more deliberate or arduous, but you now have guardrails to help you play within the (legal) lines.

Stay safe out there!

Other Helpful Resources:

Understanding Image Copyright, Social Media Today

5 legal issues to consider when planning a sweepstakes

Updated FTC guidelines – What It Means for Marketers

Updated FTC Guidelines Impact on Influencer Marketing

Can You tweet That? Social Media and the Law

Pinterest Copyright Problem and How it May Hurt Brands


What Are the Best Tools for Note Taking at Meetings and Conferences?

October 28th, 2013

Today is “Question of the Week” day here at Duct Tape Marketing. I’ll tackle a specific question I received via readers or in places where I’m speaking. Submit your question here and if we use it we’ll highlight you and send you a signed copy of Duct Tape Marketing.
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Are Employers Ready for the Connected Generation?

September 30th, 2013

It wasn’t that long ago that our digital behavior and presence was something completely strange and unwelcomed by employers. Organizations used to lock access to the Internet, then to social media and any other kind of possible distraction. The Internet police state was patrolling in full force. Then smartphones came along and companies lost complete control over their employees Internet behavior. In addition to that our presence on the Internet became a kind of a reference point. Recruiters wanted to know more, to understand more about their future choices- like a game where everybody tries to find out more about firms but also firms try to learn about people and scout professionals by following or identifying who is what, says what, does what.
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