Yesterday, I sat down and began writing a post for one of my two travel blogs.
It was a post topic that I’d been meaning to cover for years, an annual January literary event at a museum. Every year I’d blow it and forget to write the post until it was too late, but this year I put a big fat star on my calendar for the end of December, so I wouldn’t forget.
There was no problem finding updated information about the event, and I was particularly pleased to find that the museum also has a blog, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter stream, YouTube channel (only one video, but hey, a start) and lo and behold, a Flickr photostream. I linked to all of them in my travel blog post, because that’s the power of the Web – the simple act of linking actually helps you pull other blogs and sites up in search rankings, because linking to a site increases its authority in search engine algorithms. Hey, my whole job these days is tourism and social media, so I love to shine a light on great places.
I ran into trouble when it came to finding a good photo and video to go in the post. A photo or some sort of graphic is almost a must-have for a compelling travel post, and embedding a short video of this particular event into my post would also make it more intriguing and attractive to possible visitors.
When I don’t have a photo of my own, I always go to Flickr and look for images with the appropriate Creative Commons alternative copyright license (need more ideas for finding photos? Here’s how to find local photos for your tourism projects.)
Since the museum has a Flickr account for their own pictures and a Flickr Group Pool for others to contribute their personal photos, I figured I’d have an embarrassment of riches for wonderful pics.
No such luck….I struck out in the Group Pool and even though the museum had plenty of nice photos taken at the annual event, I couldn’t use any of them in my blog post because they all had the default Flickr Creative Commons license of “All Rights Reserved.” For this particular travel blog (which is ad-supported and for which I’m paid per post, so I consider it commercial) I needed an image with one of the least-restrictive CC licenses, simply “Attribution.”
That means that when I use the photo in my own content, I give attribution/credit to the original photographer, and I also link the photo in my post back to its original URL page on Flickr. Confused? Just look at the Whistler’s Mother spoof photo above in this post. Mouse over it to see the attribution, and click it to go to the source page.
Yes, if I contacted the museum and asked, they might let me use one of their photos, but it was New Year’s Eve and I wanted to post that day. I didn’t have time to wait around playing “Mother May I.” I’m a blogger and I want it now, and I want it at 2 a.m. if that’s when I’m writing the post. You can see our obsession with speed as either a total pain in the neck or a totally great opportunity to get the word out, fast. I vote for Option B, of course.
If you want me or any other wired writer to have great material to highlight your destination, help us out. Make it easy for us to toot the bloggy horn about your destination, attraction or event.
Give at least some of your Flickr photos the simplest license, “Attribution,” or even “Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivs” would work for many blogs. Put a link to your photostream on your Web site or blog, to help us find it. While you’re at it, put a nice selection of available-for-media-use pics under the Media tab on your site. Yeah, ’cause we are media – even though you may never have heard of us, I guarantee you want our coverage and links.
Give us a few decent videos to help show off your goodies, about two to three minutes long, with titles and credits that say who you are and list your URL. Make sure we can embed them, whether you use YouTube or some other service like Blip.tv, Viddler, Vimeo, etc. They do not have to be professionally produced, but they do have to be interesting, with decent audio, and easy to embed.
Most bloggers could care less about email blasts (“delete, delete, unsubscribe, delete” describes much of my day) or pretty Flash-based Web site pages that we can’t link to or some giant press packet on a CD. I know exactly what I want to write about and I do it on my own schedule.
Learn to think like a blogger and provide those nuggets that help us tell your story, because we want the world to know about you.
Feel free to let me know in the comments if I’m off my rocker and missing some obvious impediment, or if you have additional thoughts. Thanks!
Update: Kudos to the museum! After I asked them on Twitter to switch some of their photos to a less-restrictive license, they did it, so here is the blog post that I updated to include two of their images and here is their whole set from the event.
Sheila, Thank you for teaching your readers a little bit about copyright, ownership, and permissions. In a time when even our phones have cameras with video, it’s easy for people to forget that photographs and portraits are copyrighted works of art. I appreciate you taking the time to remind everyone that not all web content is available for use.
You’ve also made me re-think my travel images. Next time I travel, I’ll make sure that the Flickr images have the Attribution license in case anyone needs them in the future.
.-= Lori L´s last blog ..Texas School of Professional Photography 2010 =-.
Just found your great site. So informative and thought provoking on many levels. I will be back. Thanks.
Thanks, Brenda. It’s pretty laser-focused on tourism/travel, but most of my posts can apply across any industry. Let me know how I can help you!
Thanks, Lori, that means a lot since you’re a professional photographer.
I’m not saying that everyone should be loose with their creations all the time, only that some thought needs to go into who might enjoy easier access to some of one’s works.
This post in particular is cross industry applicable.
I am in the pet industry and am saving your info as a favorite. You are informative and have saved me time and we al know how valuable time is.
Thank you very much.
Thanks also to Cathy Stucker for Tweeting about you.
How ironic – just today I posted ‘I love sharing but I hate stealing!’
One of my ordinary, old photo was downloaded, cropped and signed! by Armenian online news site!
Please check the post and tell me what you think!
.-= BLOGitse´s last blog ..I love sharing but I hate STEALING! =-.
Excellent advice to “think like a blogger” and make things easy to find and use. I think many businesses think they are doing all the right things online — yet this is a perfect example of one who missed something big and some free PR because of it. Thanks for the education!
Hi Janet, Blogsite and Tara,
Really appreciate your thoughts, and glad the post was helpful to those outside the tourism/travel industries. Have a great New Year!
Great info here Sheila. I’ve passed along your tip to the VP of Tourism Services for Lynchburg and suggested that she pass the info along to her tourism partners. Keep up the good – and important – work!
.-= Cheryl Smith´s last blog ..Is Your Teen’s Facebook Page Open for All the World to See? =-.
Do you mean Becky Nix? She was kind enough to do a screencast/phone call with Tourism Currents recently, which turned into a video for one of our lessons, about how Lynchburg is using social media in their tourism efforts.
Thanks for visiting!
Well said. Well written. As Lori L said you’re helped people learn about some important issues. You’ve also made me change the way I treat my Flickr images.
I’m doing my best to help businesses help themselves. Have added your piece to my collection of favourite pieces I pass on.
Best wishes from Cork Ireland
.-= Paul O’Mahony (Cork)´s last blog ..How to present Social Media =-.
As a case in point for your post, I did a permanent installation for the Hotel des Arts in San Francisco – and the travel correspondent of one of the national morning shows used my room in his piece.
Part of me would like to think it’s because the room I painted is super hip and cool 🙂 But the more humble part of me knows it’s because I had available and easy to find pics on my site, blog and flickr and he could access them immediately.
This is a great post and one I will share with all my creative entrepreneurial friends. Thank you and Happy New Year!
Thanks so much for the flickr info. I will pay close attention to my licensing settings going forward.
Thank you. We are redesigning our site and these tips are really helpful. We currently offer the standard info about our services, but in an effort to stand out, this redesign includes education and events. Of course we hope to get bloggers talking about us, so these tips were great.
I heartily agree. I must congratulate you for a point well made. Yes there is definitely need for more photos with CC license on Flickr and other photo sites too. And if the owners would just stop to think of the possibilities open to them by just offering a small number of their works with less restrictive licenses their generosity would come back to them ten fold.
I personally would be using some of these pictures on my Seychelles Islands beaches travel site. Who benefits in the end? All do – including the copyright owner of the photos. We website owners and bloggers do not have the patience to go chasing copyright owners and definitely we do not want to contribute to the escalating spam in their mailbox. So yes please make it easy for us to showcase you work…
Again I say thank you for your thoughts that you have expressed very well in this post
My very best to you and all readers and a very happy new year
.-= Louis´s last blog ..Seychelles International Airport – Runway 13 and 31 | Airport Hotels =-.
Maybe one day they will hear us – great article and yes of course it is the future of media and pr’s are now playing catch up.
Couldn’t agree more. Pictures are one of the biggest problems I have sourcing for the site. Your reference to a “giant press pack” on CD made me laugh!I asked a fashion company not long back to send me the link to some street style stuff they had done ( and had told me about in conversation) they sent me a CD by courier full of stuff. Needless to say when I finally did have the time to go through it wasn’t even what I needed. PR’s could save heaps of time and money ( & get a more exposure) with just the tiniest bit of forward thinking.
Good post! good to know I’m not the only one!
Here’s another tidbit to help bloggers out: supply 140-character descriptions of your product/event/service. These insta-tweets increase your coverage. P.S. Love how you ended your post with “off my rocker” and started with Whistler’s Mother!
Sheila – Happy new year! Excellent post, not just for tourist destinations and attractions, but any small business looking to get more social and connected. The use of Flickr is a powerful marketing tool…if you get past the default the settings on your photos and think strategically about which ones you really want to share.
Kat Gordon – Great idea on the 140-character descriptions as well – I’d suggest making it about 120 characters so folks on Twitter can safely re-Tweet the information and add commentary.
Wow, thanks for all of the additional comments on the post, and comments on the comments!
I love the fact that so many visitors are not from the tourism or travel industries but still found this discussion thought-provoking. Writing something with fairly universal appeal is always a writer’s goal and it’s fun when you hit the mark (’cause there are plenty of days when you don’t.)
Just found your site and have been reading, reading, reading all morning. I’ve nothing much to add right now but just wanted to say thanks for all the hard work. I’m sure I’ll be back!
.-= Abi´s last [post] ..The Curse That Returned, Mexico =-.
I’m arriving a little late to this post … I couldn’t agree more about event and exhibition posts. I publish a lot of art exhibition and cultural event press releases. But, if they arrive in my inbox without an image, or worse yet, in .PDF format they get trashed. I don’t go out onto the web looking for images, and I don’t print the press release without the image.
I created an Arts Beat submission form on my site and about a quarter of the arts submissions come through that channel. I give very specific instructions as to how to make a submission, and also list what I don’t accept and why.
Now, when it comes to travel images for a post, if I can’t take an image myself, or edit one of my own images, I just don’t do the story.
Too many who send out all that stuff just do not have an online publisher’s mentality. They don’t understand the barriers they’re creating (or if they do and don’t care….well, don’t get me started, in that case.)
I appreciate your thoughts!