by: REX RAIDER
GMI INSIDE NEWS
NOV 12, 2004
First I'll start with some background info for those you not in the know:
Car magazines (such as Car&Driver and Motor Trend) prepare their issues approximately 2 months in advance. That means they have to prepare their stories early, and have the NEWS that they are reporting seem fresh when the issue comes out 2 months later. This is especially relevant around the time of car shows.
If car magazines reported on car shows 2 months after they occured, then people wouldn't buy the issues as much, as that information would be old, and most people would have seen the information already, most probably on the Internet.
So to give car magazines and other publishers an advantage, car manufacturers (not just GM) provide information, pictures, press releases, and news to the publishers early enough so that when the timing is right, the event (product launch, car show, etc...) and their magazine articles will have the information simultaneously.
During this delay period, the pictures/news/articles are not allowed to be shown ANYWHERE. This is called an Embargo. You can sit with the information, and work with it, but you can't show it to anyone until a specific date. If you print/use the images before the date set by the manufacturer, then you are breaking the embargo. A situation that is highly frowned upon by all parties involved.
Now that you know what an embargo is, here is what is currently going on:
Due to a couple of situations in the last few months where the Embargo has been broken, GM has recently taken away the access to embargoed to all enthusiast websites, such as GMI (and others).
So, now, GMI and other sites have no advantage over the general public, and have to scramble at the last minute when an embargo has been lifted to make sure they have the news, pictures and content on their sites. This often means a team of site moderators will have to be up at 3 am to gain access to the information, and then work for hours overnight to prepare it for the members. In order to get the news first and fast, often corners are cut, either on presentation or on quality. Both things that don't look good for the site.
Magazines that also have websites (www.autoweek.com, www.motortrend.com, etc...) STILL have access to the the Embargoed pictures, and can prepare their websites ahead of time.
I find it odd that recently Car & Driver came to us at GMI for news. C&D trusts us, but GM does not. GMI is the place to come for all the latest GM news. We should be supported by GM, not fought against.
But that's not what this is about.
Recently, there was a picture of the new Corvette Z06. This picture was seen on a Corvette enthusiast site, and a Camaro enthusiast site. Seeing that it was relevant news, GMI picked up the story, and also displayed the picture. There was much debate about the authenticity of the photo.
The Corvette site in question received 2 "cease and desist" letters informing them to remove the picture "or else". They took the picture down. GMI has not yet heard from GM yet.
Our sites no longer have access to the GM embargo area. We can't see what pictures are/aren't legitimate. We can't see what pictures are GM property (and not just photochops). We can't see the estimated release dates. We have no way of knowing if any photo at random is embargoed or not.
Furthermore, GM makes no indication on their photos that they are copywrited GM material, or that they are embargoed. GM should have a watermark on all their official photos, or they should have a small obvious line of text stating the picture can not be used.
In this day and age of technology, it's not that hard to do it. GMI does it on their "exclusive" pictures. Brenda Priddy and Co puts one on all her spy shots.
It's not hard to do.
The other thing is that GM has a tough time keeping their pictures to themselves (which I think may or may not be on purpose). Recently access to some GTO and SSR pictures were placed in an open area where everyone had access to them. GM "forgot" to put a password on the area.
With the recent Z06 picture it wasn't anyone's intention to break any embargoes. GM has to be a little more forgiving. It's GM's fault that the picture leaked out in the first place.
So basically GM:
- Watermark/date/stamp your photos. Let us know they are yours. Until then, how do we know the legitimacy? How do we know if we are breaking embargoes?
- Keep a better eye on your stuff. Don't let pictures leak out. Password protect your media sites better. Don't make a generic password for everyone (like you've been doing). Use specific passwords for each visitor. Then track who visits what area.
- Don't punish everyone for the actions of a few.
- Make a level playing field. Different people use different media outlets. Some people want to surf the internet for free and and don't want to pay $4 to read it in a magazine.
- Recognize that we are here to help the brand, not fight it. We are enthusiasts. In general, we are the people that try to sway the non-GM people back to the brand.
/end of rant