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Before You Cut And Paste Something Into Your Newsletter…

April 30 2014

magnifying glassWhen you see a photo or article online, that would interest your clients, it's tempting to cut and paste it into your newsletter or website.

There are two reasons not to do this:

  1. You're breaking the law.
  2. You want client to see you as the expert, not someone else.

Almost everything you see online is copyrighted. There are a couple of exceptions:

  • Things created by federal government employees on the job (like the Park Service's photo bankPark Service's photo bank).
  • Commonly known facts (like the phrase, "Location, location, location is the secret to selling homes").

How to Use Copyrighted Material

Just because something doesn't have a © next to it doesn't mean it's not copyrighted. To keep yourself out of legal trouble, assume everything you see online is copyrighted.

Protect yourself by answering these questions before you use something you found online:

1. Are you just copying it?

Cutting and pasting a photo or article is a pretty clear violation of the copyright rule. Ask the owner for permission.

2. Is the information you're sharing going to cause the author to lose out on revenue?

Taking the essence of someone else's work is wrong.

3. Are you using the information issue after issue, or just once in a while?

A spontaneous mention of something is okay; using someone else's work issue after issue is difficult to defend.

Your Clients Want To Know What You Think

Sharing something interesting and engaging with your clients is a great way to localize your newsletter. Adding your own thoughts about the article shows you're the expert, even when you're sharing another expert's ideas.

Take, for example, the home sale data that comes from your state association. Homeowners like to know what's happening in the bigger market. But the whole state data set is too much information.

Quote the most relevant data, give a link back to the whole data set and then add a couple sentences about how the local market compares. Keep your writing natural, as though you were talking to someone who asked you in the grocery store how the market is going.

Here's how that might look:

Your Headline: Florida Home Prices Rise 10 Percent

Good news from the Florida Association of Realtors® -- home prices were up 10 percent in February, when the median home price hit $165,000. Homes are on the market about two months, on average.

Here in Boca Raton, the homes I see selling the quickest have updated kitchens and bathrooms and are priced to match recent home sales.

If you're planning to move in the next few years, why not remodel now so you can enjoy the upgrades before you put your home on the market? Call me at (xxx) XXX-XXXX if you need contact information for a few of the remodelers whose work I've seen.

In sharing this feature, you've shown:

  1. You're in touch with what's going on state-wide.
  2. You know what's going on locally.
  3. You're a trusted advisor and it's OK to reach out to you for advice outside the home sale transaction.

If you just cut and paste the state data, you're only demonstrating #1. Showing all three things is much more powerful.

Next time you're feeling the urge to cut and paste, stop and think. What makes the information so important that you want to share it with your clients?

That's what you want to share --- along with a little quote and a link back to the article.

Note: Copyright laws and rules are constantly being updated and interpreted. This article contains general information and is not intended to be legal advice. Please discuss your individual situation with a trusted legal adviser before making legal decisions.

Dona DeZube, chief content officer for HomeActions, has the best job in the world: Writing engaging articles for HomeAction's twice-monthly e-newsletter about home improvement, personal finance, green lifestyles, home energy efficiency, condo living, and getting the most from homeownership.