Today, PR professionals spend as much time sourcing or creating visuals as they do writing content. It makes sense given the impact of images. BuzzSumo analyzed over 1 million articles and found that articles with an image once every 75-100 words received double the social media shares as articles with fewer images (Source). Social media content with images outperforms plain text. Tweets with images received 18% more clicks than those without (Source) and Facebook posts with images see 2.3X more engagement than those without (Source). Further, using images increases how much is remembered. When you are given audio or text information, you remember 10% of that three days later, but combine the information with a visual and you are likely to remember 65% of the information, three days later (Source).
However, the use of images can be a legal landmine if you don't know the rules. In a conference last year, Kerry O’Shea Gorgone reminded us that “There are legal rules marketers and PR professionals aren't aware of, and there can be serious legal consequences if these rules are violated.” Gorgone advised that even if unintentional, copyright infringement can cost you or your clients thousands of dollars. She warned that even if the content is released under a Creative Commons license it may not be safe to use, as third parties upload stolen pictures and videos. You may have even noticed that this year many graphic sites that offer access to free stock photos have updated their language warning you to check the right to usage.
The infographic below is a good reminder of the truth about copyright infringement. Of course, the safest course is to use original copyrighted images that you own. You can do this by taking your own photos, hiring a photographer, or by purchasing photos from legitimate photo sites (keep the documentation for safe keeping). We'd love to hear from you. How do you make sure you are sourcing legal images? Have you or a client ever had an issue with copyright infringement?