This past week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued new guidelines that go into effect December 1, 2009, stating that bloggers who endorse products must disclose what they’ve received in return. Since many companies use the influence of blogs to promote their products, it is important for these companies to be aware of the new requirements.
As a mom-owned small business, does this apply to you? The answer is absolutely yes. And the FTC has indicated that it will most likely put most of the onus on businesses to ensure that the bloggers they work with comply with the rules of disclosure. This means that if you work with bloggers to promote your products or services, the FTC expects YOU to make sure those bloggers are explicitly stating the nature of the relationship you have with them.
So what does this mean in practical terms? What exactly do you need to make sure the blogger does? While the FTC hasn’t explicitly stated what compliance looks like, here are some things you can do/look for:
1. Each blog you work with should have a disclosure policy. Ask to see it, and let the blogger know that you expect the nature of your relationship is disclosed (Have you provided the blogger with free product? Has she been compensated in some way for the review? There must be a way for readers to know there has been some sort of compensation.)
Here is an example of a Disclosure Policy: http://blissfullydomestic.com/disclosure-policy
2. See if the blogger has a “Disclosure” link or text on her site. There is an example of this at the bottom of this site: http://resourcefulmommy.com/
To learn more about disclosure policies, visit http://disclosurepolicy.org/. If you plan to work with a blogger who does not yet have one, she can generate a disclosure policy right from this site.
By disclosing the nature of your arrangement with bloggers, you not only protect your business, but you also help the blogger maintain credibility with her audience, which in the end is a win for both of you.
For more information on the blog rules, here’s an article from CNN Money: http://money.cnn.com/2009/10/06/news/companies/ftc_blogger_advertising_rules/index.htm?postversion=2009100609
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