Happy FTC Disclosure Day!

Today is officially Blog Disclosure Day – the day the much yapped-about, freaked-out-about, and completely misunderstood FTC endorsement guidelines go into effect. In fact if you want to be a stickler, it’s actually Advertiser Endorsement Disclosure Day but eh. It’s more fun to beat up on bloggers who aren’t even real journalists or anything.

In its honor I would like to propose a really simple system for 100% disclosure and FTC compliance. Not that some of the existing ones aren’t smart – I just think they don’t allow bloggers to tell the whole story.

Just use the appropriate hashtag after any of your sponsored posts or tweets or Facebook status updates or passing comments to strangers on the F train. It will just make things easier for all of us.

I wouldn’t ordinarily write about this kind of product, but hey, I was out of it and it saved me a trip to the store.
Use: #human

My brother’s mother-in-law’s friend’s kid owns the company. But I really do like it. Mostly.
Use: #favor

I am a shareholder of this company. And today my 20,000 shares are worth approximately 14 cents. Total.
Use: #havemercy

I am hoping that if I host this giveaway for this company now, they’ll invite me on a free trip to their factory in Cleveland.
Use: #whoring

I am hoping that if I host this giveaway for this company now, they’ll buy an ad on my blog.
Use: #dreaming

 I don’t actually like the product I’m talking about but twitter parties are just so fun. Besides, I don’t have any real life party invitations. So, you know…here I am. Talking about this stuff. Whoo! 
Use: #lonely

I just copied a press release in its entirety and passed it off as a review. What, you think I really took the time to figure out how to make a ® on my computer?
Use: #dipshit

I actually really do love toilet bowl cleaners! Talking about them, writing about them, reviewing them, collecting them -I swear, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night just to sneak into the bathroom and fondle my assortment. No really, ask me anything about toilet bowl cleaners. Seriously! Anything! We can like totally start a ning group about them or something.

Use: #prozac

What am I missing?


49 thoughts on “Happy FTC Disclosure Day!”

  1. (Smacking forehead) That's right! Thanks for the reminder. I like the #dipshit hashtag. I have no idea why people do that whole press release thing.

    While I love reviewing products, yes-really, I don't get why anyone would do “reviews” unless they actually like it, are smart about it or like spouting off their opinion like pez. Like me. Ha.

  2. Hey look! I have 27 kinds of Vlasic pickles in my refrigerator! 27 kinds! Also! I'm craving Pringles! Mmmmm Pringles! With Pickles! #drunk

  3. Some people say this product smells like shit and causes a nasty rash. But if I don't feature this freebie I'm scared more won't come. #blindeye #delusional #sensorilychallenged

  4. How about one for big blogger relations programs that completely explode because the products suck or the company does something stoopid. Let’s say, #clusterfuck ?

  5. I love this! As a nonblogger, I never understood why all of a sudden there'd be some rave review product on dripless candles appears!

    Thanks for the enlightenment for all of us out here not in the know! Ha! I'll know now!

  6. First, I love you.

    Second, joking aside (primarily because I'm genuinely confused, not only about the *actual guidelines* but also about the parent blogger community conflicts over the blending of art & commerce in overt ways), as someone who frequently does giveaways and the like herself, where do YOU see the lines being drawn in terms of respectability and propriety? Like, what do YOU do w/r/t giveaways and such on CMP that is different from the people perceived as “whoring”? Is it all in intent? Because though I'd never give away a product I didn't actually like or believe in (right now I'm giving away two pairs of Dansko shoes, and man, I fucking love those shoes, and have, like, ZERO qualms about promoting them — and moreover, I'm happy to give readers free shit I think is cool, yanno?), I'm still confused about at what point these things become — as nudge-winked about here — “unseemly.” Just would like to hear your honest opinion, cuz you're smart and shit.

    Asked in, swear to god, the most earnest way possible, because I'm fucking clueless. 🙂

  7. Hey Sweetney,

    The idea is simply this: Marketers are not supposed to use shady tactics to get out advertising messages, or disguise them as editorial.

    I'd say take a look at the video of the Blog With Integrity town hall with an FTC director, here. It clarifies a lot.

    The gist is, if you have a “material relationship” with marketer, you are obliged to disclose it. In other words, you wrote a review in exchange for a product, you wrote a review for money, you wrote about a trip or event because someone else paid for it, or you promoted a brand that gives you a commission on clicks or sales, also called affiliates. (Which is a little more complicated, as you'll hear on the webinar.) If Cool Mom Picks writes a post on behalf of a sponsor it's disclosed and always has been. Our readers' trust means more to us than the sponsor in the long run.

    So give away Danskos on your blog. Give away four hundred pairs of Danskos – and save one for me! But if they're paying you to do it, you're supposed to let your readers know so that (presumably) they can take your recommendation with whatever grain of salt is required.

    That's it!

  8. Also as far as intent…

    Cool Mom Picks operates like a magazine, recommending items that are relevant to our readers that we see at trade shows, in magazines, on other blogs, in local boutiques, and sometimes from PR.

    I think the majority of personal review blogs (not all) exist only to “review” items that come in the mail. I don't know that that's unseemly per se. But I do always wonder if the free stuff stopped coming whether the review blogs would disappear.

  9. Ahh, okay, word. I think I understand it.

    So in theory, you see no problem with people promoting products on blogs, it's in PRACTICE — IE, people doing so while secretly pocketing $ for said “endorsement” — that is the unseemly bit?

    Got it.

    Clearly this whole subject confuses the crap out of me, probably because I don't frequent blogs that do the kinds of things people get all up in arms about, you know? [shrug]

  10. The number one 100% bestest thing in the whole wide world about the blogging platform is that…

    it's yours. You can do whatever you want with it. It's empowering, and ownable, and democratic and awesome.

    (But then, sometimes that's the worst thing about it too, right?)

  11. I think Girl con Queso's should be corrected to #stoned, but that's just me.

    These are awesome. As someone who love reading about the stuff other people like, I really appreciate the disclosure this is requiring. No more guessing about the motives behind the review. Also, Sweetney, could you please tell Dansko to correct their sizes, the 12's fit like a 10 and as a big footed girl, that sucks.

  12. Dude. You totally forgot #shill. The hashtag I will need to use as I promote my husband's new business. For shame.

    Personally, I will be using #sellout as much as possible – might as well call 'em like I see 'em.

  13. When you wonder if review blogs would disappear if the “free stuff” stopped coming, I think it's probably fair to point out that review blogs like CMP and other successful ones that don't review “free stuff” still have a successful business model. Presumably, you're making enough advertising revenue to feel compelled to continue running the site.

    I'm certainly against review blogs existing solely for the sake of shiny packages showing up on the front stoop. But I also doubt that anyone is out there putting time and effort into product reviews for the hell of it or out of boredom.

  14. MM, hm, I guess I should have been more specific – when I think of review blogs, I think of personal bloggers who started a (second) blog with the purpose of housing the posts they write in exchange for products that they receive.

    I love when individuals write review blogs to express their passions, and cover books, movies, or whatever it is they love. Provided whatever they love is more specific than “free stuff.” In which case more power to them – but I'm not reading.

  15. I'll listen to anything you have to say about your company as long as you feed me dessert. #sugarfiend

    You paid for drinks and gave me a car service #newbestfriend

  16. This product I'm reviewing was developed by a really really famous person. I'm hoping if I drop her name enough on my blog and write a nauseatingly glowing review, she'll mention me in her memoirs someday.


  17. My UPS guy is super-hot, and the more reviews I do the more often he visits. Sometimes I accidentally drop the pen when I'm signing for the package, just so he has to bend over to pick it up.


  18. Plz RT: Huge contest on my blog! All you have to do is leave a comment to enter. Plz RT!!!!! #HellFreezesOver

  19. How about “I'm a blogger and bloggers write product reviews to make some money. I do my best to check the products and write as much truth as I can, but I, how shall I put it, trust my readers to have brain, so I don't decide for them what's good and what's not”.

    #commonsense or #blogger

  20. Someone sent me this last year and I never understood why, because it is SO not my style. But maybe you would like it! GIVEAWAY!

  21. Wow, this was funny. As a independent PR/Mktg person who works with mommy bloggers on reviews, this struck a cord! I've been working with some great bloggers for about 6 months and, yes, some reviews have been just OK for my clients. I guess that's life. My advice from the other side of this debate is that clients/PR people need to really get to know the blogs they're partnering with and not just pick gazillions. I read them all, go back in history etc. Try to get to know the PERSON who writes it.

    But I'm small potatoes; there are no sponsored trips to HQ, no mommy blogger think tanks…I've been in consumer product marketing for over 20 years and this feels like the wild wild west–scary but exciting!

  22. Amber that is so freaking great.

    I should hand my blog over to you for a day. I would be an improvement.

  23. I'm with Alexis. No issue disclosing here! And I love all these hashtags. No one can say we “mommy” bloggers don't have a sense of humor!

  24. Love it. I don't do any type of review/giveaways but I often tweet about things I like, just because I like them – no relation to the company etc at all. In fact at one point I kept writing about yummy restaurants and felt the need to say #notpaidjustpregnantandlovefood or something like that…

  25. Question: I had, I think, to place a discloure on my blog on/by December 1st however, I have noticed many other high profile blogs/bloggers have not. I am confused as they are having great big holiday giveaways/reviews yet there is no disclosure statement on the post or anywhere on the blog. #whatgives

  26. Liz someday I wish we could have a great big convention with all the bloggers that are connected to you through comments with you as the person of honor because I think you simply rock! Not only does CMP have honest and cool content, you are GENUINE as evidenced nearly daily here through your stories of the girls.


  27. I have to agree with Mommy Melee to a degree. I am one of those bloggers who has a second solely review blog. I started it though before this whole thing took off simply because, I do like doing it. I go through and approve everything that comes through because I think it fits the blog. If it doesn't fit then I don't say yes to reviewing it.

    After it arrives, it's tested and I give my honest opinion. That's that. I have no qualms about giving a bad review. I just like to be – dare I say it- fair and balanced.

    I think I just threw up in my mouth using that term.

  28. Jennifer, they're guidelines not laws so really there's nothing to make a blogger comply – except that if the disclosure isn't up to par and a marketer can be held responsible for it, then they may choose not to engage with those bloggers any more.

    Also maybe those bloggers have nothing to disclose? You can give away anything you'd like on your blog, but if you're being compensated for it then readers need to know.

  29. This post is made of WIN. I especially liked Amber's comment about dropping the pen – “it's the bend and snap!”

    Just got a holiday candle in a tin to review, supposed to give one away, it not only smells yucky but it's only worth $2.50. So I'm telling them sorry, but not gonna do it. #finallylearningmyworth

  30. OMG! I didn't see this until today. Hilarious. I saw another one somewhere else that was equally entertaining! Love them!

  31. I think you missed your calling in life, you should have your own late night show or write for one of shows. The ratings on Conan would go through the roof I bet!

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