FTC Guides: Bloggers react, offer advice for brands

Blogland will be buzzing tomorrow as the new FTC Guides take effect, clarifying rules for disclosure of material relationships between bloggers and brands.  We talked to blogger members of our MomSquad to get their reaction to the guidelines – what the rules mean for their blogs and what advice bloggers have for brands.

“I couldn’t be happier about the new guidelines,” says Jill Notkin of Work at Home Mom.  “Over the last year, everybody with a computer has jumped on the ‘blogwagon’ and the saturation is making it difficult for serious bloggers to maintain a reputable face.  Maybe this will bring more respect back to blogging.”

“I am now including a disclosure statement at the end of each post – I either add my own verbiage or use verbiage the brand supplies,” explains Mom’s Favorite Stuff’s Jodi Grundig. “Brands should be up front with how they’d like bloggers to handle disclosure on products they supply.  If the brand and blogger isn’t in agreement with how disclosure should be handled, it’s probably not a good fit.  I do think some companies have been going a bit overboard with disclosure, however.  I’ve been asked to write, ‘this recipe was supplied to me for free from xx.’  I really don’t want to see blogs become all disclosure/no valuable content.”

“In order to give an honest review, you must try products and put them to the test.  It’s no secret companies offer products for this purpose and your audience will not think less of your opinions when this is disclosed,” comments Julie Gerber of The Gerber Babies Blog (not that ‘Gerber’).
“I think brands should look at the sites first and find the blogs that are a good fit for them,” advises Anisa Raoff of Kidoinfo. “Do they want to send their product out to whoever will review it or does it matter who the blogger is?  Do they want to align with certain blogs because of the content on their site?”  Great questions.

“Brands need to cover their own ‘behinds’ – there are plenty of review bloggers who take [the FTC Guides] seriously and work professionally and there are others who do not,” adds Posh Parent Clarissa Nassar, also a Glambassador for Glamour magazine.

“I just wish the rest of the media world was held to similar accountability, especially celebrities,” says Mommy Niri Nirasha Jaganath.

And on that note, the FTC guides do go beyond bloggers, extending the same rules of transparency and disclosure to third-party experts utilized as spokespersons and celebrity endorsements – and that’s a good thing.  We’ll have much more on this topic in the December issue of the 360PR MomSquad Trendletter. Meantime, some good resources are Blog with Integrity and the Council of PR Firms’ Code of Ethics. Love to hear your comments!