What we call things makes a big difference in the world of public relations. In fact, you might be surprised how often it seems to make all the difference in how the public views an issue, industry or product.
That’s why brands like Sir Speedy, Slim-Fast, and DieHard communicate their benefit in their name. And why companies that make trailer homes call their product “manufactured housing.”
It’s why instead of “pro-abortion” and “anti-abortion,” we have “pro-life” and “pro-choice.” And why instead of calling it an “estate tax,” opponents use the term “death tax.” You see, most people don’t have multi-million-dollar estates — but all of us will die.
Take even a highly complex issue like the ongoing mortgage crisis. Personal finance writer Scott Burns recently wrote a column placing blame on the credit rating agencies, like Moody’s. He distilled his argument by labeling the practices of these agencies “insider rating” — a clever play on “insider trading” that will surely give the rating agencies headaches should the term catch on.
So never doubt it: it matters what we call things.
“Rights-Managed Photography” Sounds Like Castor Oil Tastes
Which brings us to a product category that could use a PR makeover: rights-managed photography. Though professional photographers and stock photography agencies steadfastly defend the benefits of RM, the fact remains that many photography buyers are running to royalty-free in droves.
Oh sure, royalty-free has its advantages. But then, so does rights-managed. For example, rights-managed photography protects the buyer against use of the same image by competitors — which can sometimes lead to real embarrassment. Rights-managed photography protects the buyer in any number of ways that royalty-free does not.
But the term “rights-managed” is horrible. It sounds like castor oil tastes. It’s all wrong because it’s bureaucratic and restrictive; who wants to have something as precious as their “rights” managed?
It also characterizes the product in terms of the supplier’s interests rather than the consumer’s. It’s like calling a Lexus a “high-margin vehicle” rather than a “luxury car.”
What’s More American than Breaking “Free” of “Royalty”?
“Royalty-free,” meanwhile, is a wonderful term. What’s more American than wanting to be “free” of “royalty”? And what’s a better marketing word than “free”?
Semantically, rights-managed photography definitely has gotten the short end of the stick.
So what if instead of calling it “rights-managed photography,” we started calling it “buyer-protected photography”?
And what if instead of calling it “royalty-free photography,” we called it “buyer-unprotected photography”?
If I were a consumer who didn’t know much about the stock business, this would at least communicate to me the benefit of paying more for “buyer-protected” work. And the risk of settling for “buyer-unprotected” images.
Of course, you’ll probably never see this kind of aggressive re-branding of rights-managed photography. Why? Because most of the big companies that sell rights-managed photography today also sell royalty-free. They’ve already picked their poison. They’ve cannibalized their own businesses — and there’s really no turning back at this point, is there?
[tags]stock photography, rights-managed, royalty-free[/tags]