Plagiarism and Stealing

Recently, I’ve witnessed several acts of plagiarism and stealing. As the need for content and attention (a result of good marketing ideas) increases, it’s likely individuals will engage in more thefts.

Unfortunately, stealing ideas and content is something that impacts all businesses and individuals trying to monetize their online activities (here’s a piece on how to detect plagiarism).

It’s too damn easy. Copying and pasting content, whether it’s via source code or simply highlighting text on a screen, makes all words accessible. Blogs are frequent targets for plagiarism.

The intense demands of content creation and the ensuing burnout that many individuals complain about creates a sense of desperation. Publish or perish, as academics used to say. When publishing becomes difficult or impossible, some people turn to stealing ideas and content.

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Differentiation Requires Show, Not Tell

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Image by Eric Lim

The Internet and in particular social media have empowered thousands, perhaps millions, to start their own businesses. One outcome of the social media movement is how easily people become “thought leaders” or topical influencers.

As a result, we have many paper tigers running about, almost indistinguishable from the ones with real teeth with one singular exception: Results.

Last week for PRSA-NCC and this morning during a keynote at Brand Camp NYC I discussed this exception, and its critical role in creating true market leadership.

When content and personal branding techniques online quack and act like ducks, many readers are quick to believe. Yet results are not necessarily associated to the voices, creating a problem. Because we have hit a saturation point, more businesses are becoming discerning in their choices of vendors, digging deeper than what’s published on a blog post or LinkedIn group.

As time continues and social becomes a place overburdened with branded marketing content and voices, differentiation requires more. Pundits are a dime a dozen these days, real businesspeople are not.

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Reliving Intellectual Flaws with A-List Influence

One last silhouette
Image via Flickr

“The ignorance, prejudices, and groupthink of an educated elite are still ignorance, prejudice and groupthink,” Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell’s Intellectuals and Society goes into great detail about the flaws intellectuals bring to bear upon society with their influence. Some of the behavior of A-Listers matches those of intellectuals, historically.

First, let’s use Sowell’s definition of intellectual, an occupational category — writers, academics and the like — whose works begin and end with ideas. Clearly this description matches bloggers who make their living based off their writing, via consulting, speaking and other services.

You might not like what they have to say, but you can’t deny the influence of A-List bloggers.
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Creativity Finds Its Genesis Alone

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Image by Camila Dal-Ri Brugnera

Society values collaboration and groupthink in our decision making and increasingly attention-based popularity driven social web, but a collaborative culture repels creativity. We are not good for me (at least from a creative standpoint).

A study from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist shows that the most creative minds are introverted, they need quiet and alone time to prosper.

In essence, new directions aren’t necessarily crowdsourced. An idea starts somewhere, and usually that’s with an individual.
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Inescapable Groupthink

Mass Yoga

Often cursed by reactionary pundits responding to the popular, groupthink remains an inescapable behavior pattern in social networks.

For those unfamiliar, groupthink is when a community’s desire for harmony overrides rational examination of ideas and concepts. Conflict is stamped out in favor of consensus.

So long as people act in tribal ways, we will always have groupthink regardless of media, idealism, culture or geography.

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When Someone Takes Your Proposed Campaign Concept

Many Flickr pix being STOLEN! Please DIGG!
Image by Laserone

Recently, I had a prospective client take a proposal idea and implement it themselves. Having your campaign concepts taken is an all too frequent occurrence in communications consulting, unfortunately. You have to show some flare to get the deal, so it’s a Catch 22. But what can you do about someone taking your campaign idea without compensation?

1) Don’t Give Away the Whole Pie

It’s hard to rip off an incomplete concept. In this particular case, the prospective client called asking how to achieve their goal. I suggested three tactics, two of which were blogger relations oriented — pitches and guest posts, and the third being an ad campaign with a vertical online media property.

In the case of the prior, I listed four names as examples. After being turned down by the client, I noticed two of the four names had published guest blogs or tweeted about the issue. Because the whole group of bloggers and online media outlets was not listed, the would-be client has some work to do.

And with the ad buy, well, they’ll have to negotiate for themselves. Their relationship is not mine, and I know I could have gotten them deeper discounts. C’est la vie.

2) Avoid Bad Mouthing the Prospective Client Publicly

It makes no sense to talk about the prospective client negatively in a public setting. First, ideas are free. Everyone has ideas. Executing them is what people pay me to do because of experience, relationships and savoir faire. Who is to say another consultant or professional couldn’t have come up with those ideas?

Secondly, it signals to other potential clients that you are a loose cannon that will take their name in vein. Clients need to feel safe with you.

That being said, if a friend mentions this would-be client is talking business with them, you may want to share your experience. It’s more about protecting friends from having their ideas ripped off. You would hope a friend would warn you of such a situation, wouldn’t you?

3) Wish Them Well

Again, ideas are easy. If someone thinks they can do it themselves, God bless them. Who knows? Maybe they can.

Even if you are very good at strategy and provided a unique approach, it doesn’t mean the would-be client will implement it successfully. Ninety percent of the time they won’t be able to do it as well as you. Your expertise and relationships are why people hire you. Know this, and turn the other cheek.

What do you do when someone steals your idea?