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How to get free images online

Working for a digital PR agency I regularly write blog posts for clients or for the Prohibition PR blog. I often think of ways to make my blog posts more engaging, and, content aside, having attention-grabbing photos is the easiest way to do just that.

I’m always drawn to blogs that have made good use of imagery. Using my own personal blog as an example, you can see that I’ve used a vast collection of visually-rich imagery from my adventurous cake creations. However unless you take the photos yourself, copyright images can be expensive especially if you are buying an image for every post.

Chocolate cupcake

Chocolate cupcake

Never be tempted to simply use an image you’ve found on Google, or worse still, from a media outlet. You’ll be in breach of the image-owners copyright, and chances are you’ll be tracked down and billed. This happens more often than you’d think, and the cost can easily reach the hundreds of pounds. Media outlets in particular will come down on your hard and will get their money!

Realising this could be a common problem amongst fellow writers, I have a couple of really useful sites that bloggers will appreciate and benefit from;

Firstly, there is Freedigitalphotos.net. This site allows you to download a wide variety of stock images for free (although downloads are usually in one size). However, remember to correctly reference each image or you’ll be in breach of the site’s terms. If you need an image in a larger size, there is the option to purchase it for a reasonable fee.

Secondly, there’s Flickr which is also a useful source of good quality images. When searching, make sure you go to advanced search and choose ‘creative commons licensed content’. These are images that people have made available for public use. However, make sure you check the terms of use for each one, as some do not allow commercial use, some do not allow you to alter them and so on. Also remember to correctly reference each image, by referencing ‘Creative Commons’, and linking to the image owner’s profile on Flickr.

With these sites, you are on your way to creating a neat looking blog post! If that’s all it takes then make sure you do it and save money for the more important things in life, like cake!

Red velvet cupcake

Red velvet cupcake

Football Flick – Video Seeding Campaign

Over the last couple of years we have been working closely with a number of the best marketing agencies in the country to help them seed their viral campaigns on the web whether that is news, video, apps or even music. It’s the best part of the job and we get to play with some amazing content and stunning videos from all kinds of different sectors and as long as the content is good we are happy to help.

The video we are working on this week comes from our good friends at The Lift Agency and is for a new product called Football Flick Urban. The Football Flick Urban is a three Dimensional multi user football skills trainer, which consists of a front curved ramp, a back ramp and a net in the middle. Each of the three elements of the Football Flick can be used to help train and develop skills used in football.

The video has been created by Lift to generate some real excitement around this useful new soccer training aid. It showcases just what can be done with the unit by players of any ability and what’s more that it can be used anywhere, reinforcing the brand’s strapline… Play Anywhere. It also features the talents of John Farnworth. John is 26 and from Longridge in Lancaster and he holds four Guinness World Records including the most around the worlds in under a minute. In the video, John shows off his skills as a football freestyler and all that the Football Flick Urban has to offer.

Having only been in circulation around 24 hours, the video is already proving to be a big hit. You can see it yourself below:

Prohibition PR Helps Set Up Online Student Magazine – Student Wire

Over the last few months the Prohibition PR team have been working hard to help launch a new online student magazine – Student Wire. The idea was to create a website specifically for students, written by students about being a student!

Our client The Student Store wanted specialist help to create a thriving online community. So we scoped the project out and looked at how we could create something which would help other students out, give advice and provide some great content that was relevant to the audience.

Prior to the launch of the project the team put together a number of focus groups from local universities to bring together thoughts and ideas of what they would like to read.

Emilie Sillett, a second year public relations undergraduate and current intern here at Prohibition HQ was made editor of the magazine due to her rather bubbly personality and passion for creative writing. She was then also asked to help recruit a team of budding journalists and creative writers to help her create a magazine with a difference.

To help increase awareness and garner interest, the magazine was seeded online throughStudent Wire social media and student forums, getting as many people as possible to check it out and create a buzz around the launch of the site. After just four weeks Student Wire is already a huge success and a hit with under graduates from universities all over the UK.

So far it has writers from Leeds Metropolitan University, Liverpool John Moore’s, University of Salford and London Metropolitan providing advice, news and ideas on anything from how to choose your student accommodation through to how to cure a hangover.

Emilie is always looking for interesting features and creative writers so drop her an email if you think you are cut out for the job contact@studentwire.co.uk.

For an idea of some of the topics the team write about at Student Wire, check out some of the favourite posts so far:

1. The Student Halls Lottery by Sarah Raynard

2. Clubbing.. Why bother? by editor, Emilie Sillett

3. Celebrities And Their Surprising, Unrelated Degrees by Amanda Champion

4. And have a look at my own article, Technology That Will Make Life Easier.

And finally, the sponsors of Student Wire – the Student Store – has recently launched a photo competition of ‘the work space from hell’.  Be it your messy student house, your dirty desk or your rotten bedroom we want to see. The winner will be determined by public vote via the Student Wire Facebook page – so be creative as possible and you could be in with a chance £100 shopping voucher and the Adobe Creative Cloud software up for grabs! Apply here.

This was a guest article from Laura Crossley.

Violation of Google’s Guidelines Will Result in Damaged PageRank

Google’s latest announcement has made it official that selling page links and including paid-for placements on your blog can and will damage your PageRank. In the announcement Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Web Spam stated that ‘selling links (or entire advertorial pages with embedded links) that pass PageRank violates our quality guidelines, and Google does take action on such violations.’ Such action has been taken out recently on the florist giant Interflora for breaking Search Engine Optimisation guidelines by manipulating links to improve its PageRank. Penalisation of Interflora is the latest proof that even the largest brands are not immune to Google’s rules and regulations. Currently as punishment Interflora doesn’t show up on Google for the majority of it’s search terms, a huge disaster for the brand with Mother’s Day fast approaching. The highest Interflora appeared was on page 2 of a Google search, but mainly Interflora was non-existent. The damages to the brand could value at millions worth of pounds. Matt Cutts has also posted on his own personal blog about PageRank penalties and selling links. Replying to the frequently asked question of ‘Why has my PageRank gone down?’ Matt answered ‘the drop in Toolbar PageRank is an indicator of the decrease in our trust of the site.’ Google isn’t against paid advertisements, it actually supports the practise but they are asking for such links to be disclosed to search engines.  Sites should be judged on their content and influence for SEO not their bank account. What does this mean for PR? Whilst it will upset many people, Google’s announcement will help to ensure that online public relations prioritises quality content over simple and easy paid-for placements and links. Therefore Google is helping to ensure that public relations online is practised ethically. Blogging is a way of using your online freedom to express your opinion and interests, add value and engage in discussions. Blogging on your personal blog, on behalf of a company, just because they are paying you an attractive sum, I believe, totally defeats the object of blogging in the first place. Don’t get me wrong advertorials (which have been around for decades in PR) and articles that clearly show they are being sponsored to review a product are still effective ways to position a brand. It’s the articles that have been paid for that include brand names and links to a website that don’t make it totally clear that are misleading. What do you think? This is a guest post from Lara Busch you can follow her on Twitter.

The 10 Best April Fools Stunts

Google
Regular pranksters Google certainly did not disappoint this year! Now I could probably write a whole post purely on Google’s April Fools stunts from yesterday, but I’ll cut to the chase:

Google Nose: First up is Google Nose, as its name implies, the service lets you search to find out what your queries smell like. You make think that only an idiot would believe it, but after reading some long technical words, many of us must have pulled our screens a little closer and had a sniff!

Google Maps Treasure Mode: Google created a treasure map mode on Google Maps along with a video announcement telling us that the ‘Google Maps Street View team’ have found a treasure map belonging to an infamous pirate. They said the map contains a variety of encrypted symbols which you are tasked with decoding.

Gmail Blue: This one is said to be a dig at Microsoft’s future Windows 8 revamp, also to be named Blue. Google created an almost two minute long video explaining the new technology that is going into their new Gmail design, only to find out at the end, that they just coloured everything blue!

Google seemed to have a bottom-less budget in their marketing and PR department this year. They also made up pranks with Google+, Australian Google Street View, Google Enterprise and…

…YouTube
YouTube took to their blog and posted a video to tell us that their site was set up merely as a way to find the best online video in the world. The video claimed that they had enough footage to end the competition and close down the page.

Bing
If you happened to be on Bing.com yesterday (which I’m sure you didn’t), you would have got a shock. The site completely changed how it looked if you typed “google” in the rival search engine. It was still regular Bing under the surface but the layout was a copy of Google’s. And just for an extra dig, you could either press the “Search” or the hilarious “I’m Feeling Confused” button instead.

Twitter
Yesterday morning Twitter announced it will no longer allow the use of vowels in tweets. The social networking site said that by eliminating vowels, they are helping tweeters to a “more efficient, and ‘dense’ form of communication.” And if you really can’t live in a world without vowels, Twttr (as it renamed itself) will allow you to tweet A, E, I, O and U for the small fee of $5 a month.

Sony Animalia
Sony had us all laughing with a video telling us they are releasing a new “Animalia” line of products for your tech product-starved pets. Because apparently your hamsters needs a good beat whilst on their exercise wheels and your cat would love some headphones to block humans out!

Virgin Atlantic Glass Bottom Plane
The folks at Virgin Atlantic Airways can never pass up an April Fools. This year they took to Richard Branson’s blog to reveal a glass-bottom airplane supposedly made so we can “appreciate the beauty of the British landscape” whilst flying!

BMW Pram
BMW unveiled a new product yesterday, a pram! Or should I say ‘the limited edition BMW P.R.A.M. (Postnatal Royal Auto Mobile).’  Available in Princess Pink or Royal Blue, the soft-top convertible has been designed especially for the arrival of the new Royal baby.

The Metro
I won’t deny it, this April fool even got me! The Metro published a roundup of stunts from yesterday such as The Sun joking that the Angel of the North will be renamed ‘Cheryl Cole’ and the Guardian trying to fool us that scientist have bred rabbits with human ears. Only when you get to the end do you realise they were all completely made up!

Sacla Italia
Italian food brand Sacla added a touch of tech to its April Fool’s joke with the announcement of its latest product, ‘Twitteroni pasta – Eat what you tweet’. Rather like tinned alphabet spaghetti, Twitteroni pasta is shaped into letters, but also includes hash tags and the @ symbol.

The Huffington Post
The latest addition to the London skyline became the world’s best thrill-ride according to The Huffington Post yesterday when they unveiled ‘The Shlide’ – the helter-skelter style slide around Europe’s tallest skyscraper, The Shard.

 

What was your favourite April fool’s stunt from yesterday? Is there anything I’ve missed?

PR Interviews: 7 types of question a journalist might ask and how to deal with them

That old saying ‘forewarned is forearmed’ can be applied to many fields – and most especially to when you’re being interviewed by a journalist.

Journalists are generally pretty skilled at asking questions in such as way that will get their subjects talking – whether they want to or not!

But if you’re forearmed – not just by preparing in advance what you want to say, but also with what the journalist might ask – you’re much more likely to go into the interview feeling more confident, be able to take the control and make the points which are important to you and your organization.

Most questions fall into seven broad categories, and once you can recognize them, you then can work out how to answer them well, in a way that delivers your key messages effectively.

1. Open questions

Any question starting with who, what, where, when, how and why (and not forgetting ‘tell me about’). There’s normally no way you can answer these questions with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

“What does your company do?”

They are often asked at the beginning of an interview, so they give you a great opportunity to take control of an agenda, talk at length and really get your message across.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve asked a question starting ‘tell me about’ working on TV programmes such as Remembrance Sunday, to encourage people to talk about their experiences.

Do beware, though, as they can be used to trap you.

“When will the chief executive resign?”

“Why didn’t you call in expert help when you knew there was a problem?”

2. Closed questions

A closed question is one that can be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. For example:

‘Do you think that your company provides good media training courses?’

Or

Does your company also offer video production as one of its services?’

(the answer to both these is ‘yes’ by the way)

The way to spot these is that they generally invert the pronoun and verb in a sentence, so they might start with ‘Is it …?’, ‘Do you …’, ‘Will you …?’, ‘Have you …?’ or ‘Has your …?’.

When you answer them, it’s generally advisable to expand on what you’re saying and don’t just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’, particularly in a print interview where your answer might be turned into a quote by the journalist anyway.

Sometimes, however, you will disarm the interviewer by simply saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’, which can be very powerful.

3. Leading questions

These invite you to make judgments about your activities, and are highly likely to be asked if you’re under fire for some reason.

“Your track record running this hospital is hardly one to be proud of is it?”

In these circumstances, it’s probably best to ignore the premise of the question and deal with the issues factually, clearly refuting the points made. So you might list your achievements and describe the measures you have taken to overcome the current difficulties.

4. Incomprehensible questions

Interviewers do sometimes get in a muddle, especially if they know little about the subject of the interview. Don’t judge a journalist too harshly in these circumstances – they may have had only a moment’s notice of the interview and had no time to research. Rather than pointing it out the journalist’s ignorance, take the chance to answer the question you hoped they would ask, and deliver one of your key messages.

5. Multi-element questions

This is sometimes the sign of an inexperienced or over keen interviewer:

“With me now is Barack Obama, the President of the United States. So Mr President, can you tell me how you defeated the Republicans, but it’s all going a bit wrong now isn’t it, are you concerned about how the Democrats will do in this week’s elections, and what does it feel like to be the first black president of the United States?

Just pick the nicest question – ie, the one which will allow you to get your messages out best – and answer that.

6. Hypothetical Questions

The type of thing you may face from an aggressive current affairs journalist.

“Will you resign if the investigation proves that your department approved that shipment of illegal arms?”

To deflect this type of question, simply refuse to be drawn and turn the conversation to a positive point, repeating the statement you have made to other reporters.

7. The Cul-de-sac Question

This is designed to catch you out, no matter what you say.

“Mr Mullins, your organisation is responsible for leaking sensitive medical records. As managing director, you must surely be considering resignation?”

The only thing to do is refute both parts of this question – and stick to your own agenda.

Whatever kind of question you are asked, the most important thing in any media interview is to remember the reason you agreed to it – to promote yourself and your business or organisation. Good preparation – both in anticipating questions and in deciding on and polishing your key messages – will make that task far far easier.

 

We would like to thank to Ann Wright for providing us with this brilliant guest blog, Ann is the co-founder of Rough House which specialise in media training.

Why branding yourself properly is key to getting a job in PR

With the boundaries between private and public becoming ever more unclear these days, it is essential that you represent yourself properly on all the different social media channels. It is quite shocking to see that, even in the present day, with social media having been around for a number of years people are still unaware of the damage that their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare or Pinterest accounts can do to their aspirations for getting that dream job in PR.

I realise it is quite obvious that uploading drunken pictures, writing rude posts and posting provocative material on your page is a sure fire way to ensure you will be going nowhere in the industry because, after all, if you cannot show yourself in a good light, then why would PR companies trust you to represent them?

clip_image002Valerie Forrestal from slideshare has discussed in a slideshow how the wrong material can jeopardise your chances of scooping a job. Using examples, such as the woman who was denied acceptance onto a degree course due to drunken images on her Facebook page, she has highlighted the pitfalls of not branding yourself properly.

Companies in all industries want respectable employees that they can trust. In the US, businesses have even taken the drastic step of asking applicants for their Facebook login details, so they can run the rule over them to ensure that potential employees are suitable.

Whilst this may be seen as over the top to some, really it is a logical step. If companies cannot access your private account, then is there something for you to hide?

The LA Times previously talked about how important it is to represent yourself properly in today’s social media-driven society, highlighting the need to “be sure your profile is cleaned up so it won’t put off any potential employers.”

Obviously, the more personal sites such as Facebook do not have to be covered in boring material. But to talk about how stoned or drunk you got last Saturday is certainly not going to endear yourself to your future employer.

Everyone is aware how powerful social media is in today’s society but, unbelievably, many are still not taking the necessary steps to represent themselves properly, which is harming their chances of progressing into professional employment.

It is only simple steps that have to be taken to ensure your social media channels are not your downfall.

Have you seen any interesting examples of people not representing themselves properly on their social media? If you have share them with us in the comments.

TWEET FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE WITH LivesOn TWITTER APP:

Communicating with your loved ones from beyond the grave has always been a task left to the mediums and Derek Accoras of our day, but now the creepy séances, flickering candles and moving objects are a thing of the past. As long as the dead had Twitter, they can stay alive via a new Twitter app, LivesOn by favouriting tweets and posting links to topics they once liked. Your loved and lost can truly stay alive through the power of social media, but is this revolutionary or just down right creepy?

clip_image002

It’s evident that this app will most definitely divide peoples’ opinion on whether it is morally acceptable to keep the dead alive via twitter. However, for some it might be a new and incredible way to keep their lost ones a little closer to them after they have gone. LivesOn acts in a different way to how Dead Social, another post death tweeting service works, by not having you schedule your tweets before you pass away. During your time using Twitter when you are still amongst the living, LivesOn analyses your online Twitter behaviour to then select tweets once you’ve passed and share links with your followers online.

Developed by London based ad agency, Lean Mean Fighting Machine, one of the creative partners, Dave Bedwood spoke out to the Guardian saying, It offends some, and delights others. Imagine if people started to see it as a legitimate but small way to live on. Cryogenics costs a fortune; this is free and I’d bet it will work better than a frozen head.”

As a big Twitter user myself it almost seems palpable that I live on in a world I seem to spend so much time in. Although if I’m truly honest, I’m not really too sure if anyone would even notice my ghost tweets haunting the online social world, with all the social traffic, I’m pretty sure I would go un-noticed. But is this really a way for us to enhance our memories and extend our relationships even when we’re gone, and do we need to keep the relationships going when we’re not around? I personally don’t believe apps like these are adding value to our lives, the memories of who we were, left with the people we love, outside a networking bubble is what truly keeps us alive after we’ve gone.

To me, it does seem quite creepy and a little insensitive to the ones we leave behind, however is this just the evolution of social media? If so, what is to come next, can it get much more invasive, unique or crazy? I am intrigued to find out what lies ahead in the future of social media, it will inevitably get even more extreme in some way shape or form.

With life becoming more digital than ever before, apps such as LivesOn and DeadSocial seem to be the same as leaving letters behind for your loved ones, but just more interactive. As long as you believe your family and friends can deal with the impact of ghost tweeting then I would say go right ahead and truly discover the power of social media.

One question I do have is when does it actually know you have died and could it then re-tweet messages from my funeral as that is very strange and just plain wrong? I think I will leave it for now because it all just feels a bit too insensitive to me and I don’t want to go jinxing myself.

The top five Valentines’ PR and social stunts

It’s almost that time of the year again which most of us dread. Red roses and pink love hearts smeared over every shop, no chance of table reservations and a depressing 24-hours for all singletons – its Valentine’s Day. But love it or hate it, it’s a great time for PR stunts and campaigns and here are five of my favourites from recent times:

1. #TweetHeart

These days it seems that social networking is the most popular way to channel our love and emotions and companies have been using this to their full advantage this Valentine’s day. A popular online blog – Not on the High Street – came up with the idea of offering a very unique and personal gift this February 14th. They have created a competition in which contestants must tweet a special message stating why they love their valentine and including the link, #TweetHeart. The top 10 tweets will be turned into a love song, performed and recorded by a band called ‘The Coopers’ and posted online for their partner to see. You can read more about it here.

2. ‘The Twosie’

Asda's twosie as seen on their websiteSupermarket chain Asda did a brilliant job of getting plenty of pre-valentine’s day media coverage, by introducing The Twosie. After a survey on Facebook told them that most couples would be staying in this Valentine’s day (and after the onesie trend still doing so well) George at Asda decided to do the obvious, stick two onesies together, and produce the twosie, before posting it on their website.

A soft fleecy double poncho with bunny design hoods and ears, embroidered faces and ‘Love Bunnies’ print on the back and for just £25, it sold out in record time.

3. Love Advice from Britain’s Oldest Couple

Last year, Britain’s oldest couple took to twitter and dished out love and relationship advice to the public. Lionel and Ellen Buxton, who will be celebrating 77 years of marriage this summer, tweeted on behalf of a wedding video company, called Shoot it Yourself. Although they haven’t tweeted since, their messages can still be seen on their twitter page @lionelandellen.

This resulted in some very interesting tweets, and gained some great coverage from newspapers such as the Daily Mail and the Sun.

4. Flaming Grill Facebook Date

This Valentine’s day, Flaming Grill Pubs are playing match maker. It has launched a campaign in order to increase activity of its Facebook page. Basically, you must join the page and choose a date from your Facebook friends. You are then in with a chance to win a meal for two with a bottle of wine thrown in!

A simple idea which will be no doubt rather popular with the men!

5. A Sex Guarantee

A Scottish clothes retailer named Foul Fashion is offering shoppers a ‘sex guarantee’. It will give its customers a full refund this month if its unusually colourful shirts don’t attract the opposite sex.

It may be slightly sleazy, but is certain to turn heads. The stunt has already been covered by multiple newspapers and PR websites, appeared on This Morning and created a hell of a lot of activity on Twitter.

Have I missed anything? Do you have any favourite PR stunts for Valentine’s Day to share?

This is a guest post from Laura Crossley who will be joining the Prohibition team in a couple of weeks.

Top Tips for getting a job in a Leeds PR Agency

For many, starting a career in Public Relations is not easy. But just how do you go about getting into the industry? Well, there are several interesting aspects to consider:

1) A degree is not always essential. Whilst many go to University and get a degree in PR, communications or English before looking for work, it is not the be all and end all. The Public Relations apprenticeship scheme run in association with the PRCA helps young people gain the necessary experience as well as qualifications

Apprentices are appealing because they receive practical experience and they get to truly know what it is like to work in the industry at a younger age. Unlike many university graduates that will be 21ish by the age of 20 they will have worked in the industry two or three years.

2) Experience is key. Companies/agencies are unlikely to take on a new member if they have not gained some sort of experience in the industry before looking for employment. Whilst some university courses have work placements as part of the course, actually seeking experience independently will help you see what the industry is like. Taking on interns regularly ourselves, we notice a huge difference in how much more developed people are once they have worked in the industry for just a number of months.

As Pressat has previously stated on its website, “it would be a good idea to get some work experience or carry out a placement with a local PR company.” Because PR is such a competitive industry, this will make you stand out from the crowd.

3) Knowledge of the industry is essential. You will not last very long if you are not up to date with what is happening in an ever-changing industry like PR, so it is essential that you read relevant material. Aside from helping you understand your work, it will also give you fresh inspiration and ideas.

As Jon Gloyne, an experienced PR professional, has stated for an article in The Guardian, “It’s essential to keep up to date with industry news and trends, so make sure you read from sites such as PR Week and Campaign.”

4) Network. In order to get started, it is essential to build up your contacts. Being prominent on all social media websites, not just Facebook and Twitter, will help you to increase your standing. Setting up a LinkedIn account, for example, is essential when going into any profession, not just PR.

As has been written on PRmeetsmarketing.com, “Creating a profile on LinkedIn is a must alongside a traditional resume.” It’s not always what you know, but sometimes WHO you know has a major impact on getting a foot on the ladder.

5) PR Yourself. If you stand out, then you are more likely to get somewhere when looking for a job. As PR is all about “Pray for play,” you need to be able to generate interest in yourself in order to prove you have got what it takes to work in the industry.

The best candidates for positions in agencies are those that are able to make themselves stand out and look different and can market themselves effectively. Our MD Chris Norton is currently lecturing at Leeds Metropolitan University on the PR degree and one of his classes is solely dedicated to helping the undergraduates learning how to market themselves and present themselves better to employers. I know he was happy to help with this because we get so many applications ourselves and some are great and some are terrible.

We have discussed the importance of representing yourself effectively before. What are your experiences of finding work in the industry? Is it more difficult than you had imagined?

Do you have any tips you can share for everyone else?