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FTC Guidelines Overview: How it Impacts PR, Brands and Bloggers


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  • Hey Sarah, nice presentation. Quick question: the disclosure example you show on slide 27 features the endorsement of a non-profit organization, not a product or service being sold to consumers.

    Have you ever seen the FTC applying its guidelines or rules to the endorsement of a nonprofit organization or cause?
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
  • Hi Sarah!

    Thank you for mentioning CMP.LY in your presentation. We are working hard to lessen the burden of this challenge for bloggers and brands alike, and we appreciate advocates of truth in social media just like yourself. I have just one request - please update our URL in your presentation. We do not have an 'O' in our name - it's just CMP.LY.

    Thank you!
    Kirsten Gronberg
    Community Manager at CMP.LY
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here

FTC Guidelines Overview: How it Impacts PR, Brands and Bloggers

  1. 1. FTC  Guidelines  Overview:    How  it  Impacts  PR  and  the  Blogger  World   Sarah  Evans   @PRsarahevans    
  2. 2. Disclose.  Disclose.  Disclose.   Official  FTC  Media  Release:  h2p://    #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  3. 3. Why?   •  It’s  the  right  thing  to  do   •  You  want  readers,  brands  and  consumers  to   trust  you  (as  a  blogger  or  a  business)   •  If  you’re  the  “owner”  of  the  brand  or  business,   you’re  ulHmately  responsible  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  4. 4. Top  3  Takeaways  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  5. 5. AdverHsements  that  feature  a   consumer  and  convey  his  or  her   experience  with  a  product  or  service  as   “typical”  are  required  to  disclose  the   results  consumers  can  generally  expect   What  does  that  mean?  Endorsements  must  be  truthful,  not  misleading.  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  6. 6. If  a  company  refers  in  an  adverHsement   to  the  findings  of  a  research   organizaHon  that  conducted  research   sponsored  by  the  company,  the   adverHsement  must  disclose  the   connecCon  between  both.  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  7. 7. A  post  by  a  blogger  who  receives  cash   or  in-­‐kind  payment  to  review  a  product   is  considered  an  endorsement.  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  8. 8. “The  FTC  guidelines  are  about   decepKve  pracKces  in  which  what   appears  to  be  an  honest  opinion  is,  in   fact,  a  biased  perspecKve.”   –  Joe  Chernov  (@jchernov),  co-­‐chair,  WOMMA  Ethics  CommiVee  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  9. 9. TOOL:  FTC  Online  Endorsement   Guidelines  Quick  Overview   hVp://­‐overview-­‐for-­‐online-­‐endorsements    #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  10. 10. On  behalf  of  the  brand…   •  It’s  the  brand  or  adverHser’s  responsibility  to   inform  campaign  parHcipants.  UlHmately,  YOU   are  responsible.  Explain  to  members  of  your   network  what  can  –  and  can’t  –  be  said  about  the   product;   •  Set  up  a  reasonable  monitoring  program  to  check   out  what  your  people  are  saying  about  your   product;  and   •  Be  proacHve.  Follow  up  if  you  find     quesHonable  pracHces.  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  11. 11. TUDYCASES Ann  Taylor  LOFT   To  promote  the  launch  of  its  summer  collecHon,  Ann  Taylor   LOFT  invited  bloggers  to  aVend  an  exclusive  preview  of  its  2010  summer  collecHon.  "Bloggers  who  aVend  will  receive  a   special  giY,"  the  invitaHon  read,  "and  those  who  post  coverage  from  the  event  will  be  entered  in  a  mystery  giY  card   drawing  where  you  can  win  up  to  $500  at  LOFT!"    
  12. 12. In  small  print  on  the  invitaHon:    "Please  note  all  bloggers  must  post  coverage  from  our   event  to  their  blog  within  24  hours  in  order  to  be  eligible.  Links  to  post  must  be  sent  to  [e-­‐mail  address],   along  with  the  code  on  the  back  of  your  giY  card   distributed  to  you  at  the  event.  You  will  be  noHfied  of  your  giY  card  amount  by  February  2.  GiY  card  amounts   will  vary  from  $10  to  $500."      
  13. 13. “We  were  concerned  that  bloggers  who   aLended  a  preview  on  January  26,  2010   failed  to  disclose  that  they  received  giYs  for  posHng  blog  content  about  that  event,”   Mary  Engle,  the  FTC’s  associate  director-­‐ adverHsing  pracHces,   wrote  in  a  leVer  dated  April  20  to  Ann   Taylor’s  legal  representaHon.    
  14. 14. The  ResoluCon?   •  The  FTC  ulHmately  determined  not  to   recommend  an  enforcement  acHon,  because,  in   part  ‘LOFT  adopted  a  wriVen  policy  .  .  .  staHng   that  LOFT  will  not  issue  any  giY  to  any  blogger   without  first  telling  the  blogger  that  the  blogger   must  disclose  the  giY  in  his  or  her  blog.’     •  They  expect  the  company  to  monitor  bloggers’   compliance  with  the  obligaHon  to  disclose  giYs   they  receive  from  LOFT.”  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  15. 15. On  behalf  of  the  blogger…   •  It’s  the  brand  or  adverHser’s  responsibility  to   inform  you.  However,  it’s  your  responsibility  to   familiarize  yourself  with  online  endorsement   guidelines.   •  Set  up  an  online  disclosure  policy  page  on   your  site  and  refer  to  disclosures  when  talking   about  the  product(s).     •  Be  proacHve.  Push  back  on  the  brand  if  you   have  quesHons.  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  16. 16. Example  of  Blogger  Ambassador  Program:   Typical  “Asks”   •  Get  the  tools.  Purchase/use/download  product.   •  Join  the  Ambassador  Program  for  a  period  of  <insert  Hme   frame>.   •  Use  our  product.  Use  the  product  and  document  your   experience.     •  Create  content.  Post  a  blog  or  vlog  review  of  product  on   your  blog  or  website  (disclose  compensaHon)   •  Social  sharing  of  the  review  post,  including:  at  least  one   tweet  and  one  share  on  Facebook  (disclose  compensaHon)   •  Follow  brand  TwiVer  account   •  Like  brand  Facebook  page  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  17. 17. As  a  blogger  you  should     have  the  following:   •  Disclosure  policy  on  blog  or  website     •  Disclosures  you  use  when  sharing  informaHon   on  social  networks   •  DocumentaHon  of  your  partnership  with  the   brand     Don’t  worry,  I’ll  show  you  what  these  look  like.  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  18. 18. An  exciHng  round  of  #True  or  #False.  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  19. 19. True  or  False?   A  comprehensive  online  disclosure  policy   on  your  website  fully  covers  you.  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  20. 20. FALSE  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  21. 21. Tweet-­‐ready  You  must  disclose  your  affiliaHon  with  a  company   or  product  on  your  site  and  social  networks.   #BBsummit11  #FTC  via  @PRsarahevans  
  22. 22. True  or  False?   If  a  restaurant  “comps”  you  a  meal  without  you  asking   for  it  and  you  write  about  them,  you  don’t  need     to  disclose.  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  23. 23. FALSE  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  24. 24. True  or  False?   Adding  the  hashtag  #spon  to  your  tweet  covers  the   acknowledgement  that  you  were  compensated  in  some   way  for  your  post.  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  25. 25. TRUE  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  26. 26. A  Few  Guidelines  Official  WOMMA  Guidelines   Others  •  #spon  –  Sponsored     •  #ad  •  #paid  –  Paid     •  #client  •  #samp  –  Sample   •  #advisoryboard   More  info  here:    
  27. 27. Incorporated  hashtag   into  Google+  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  28. 28. True  or  False?   Bloggers  not  in  compliance  with   guidelines  may  be  fined  up  to  $11,000.  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  29. 29. FALSE  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  30. 30. There  is  no  fine  for  bloggers  for  not   complying  with  an  FTC  guide.  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  31. 31. True  or  False?   You  do  need  to  disclose  if  you  review  a   product  and  then  returned  it  to  the  business.  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  32. 32. DEPENDS  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  33. 33. In  this  instance,  yes:  If  you  are  given  the  use  of  a  product  for  an  extended   amount  of  Hme  you  should  disclose:  1)  That  you  were  given  the  product;  2)  How  long  you  were  given   the  product;  and  3)  You  returned  the  product.  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  34. 34. Disclosure  Policy   Example  for  blog  or  website   This  policy  is  valid  from  July  14,  2011   This  blog  is  a  personal  blog  wri2en  and  edited  by  me.  For  quesKons  about  this  blog,  contact  <insert   your  email  address>.   This  blog  does  not  accept  any  form  of  cash  adverKsing,  sponsorship  or  paid  topics.  However,  we  will   and  do  accept  and  keep  free  products,  services,  travel,  event  Kckets  and  other  forms  of  compensaKon   from  companies  and  organizaKons.     The  owner(s)  of  this  blog  will  never  receive  compensaKon  in  any  way  from  this  blog.   This  blog  does  contain  content  which  might  present  a  conflict  of  interest.  This  content  may  not  always   be  idenKfied.  We  are  employed  or  consult  with:  Company  1,  Company  2,  etc…  We  serve  on  the   following  corporate  or  non  profit  boards:  Example  1,  Example  2,  etc…  We  are  acKve  in  a  poliKcal   party  which  influences  our  blog:  AffiliaKon  1.  We  blog  about  people  to  whom  we  are  related.  These   people  include:  My  mom  (name).  We  have  a  financial  interest  in  the  following  that  are  relevant  to  our   blogging:  Investment  1.  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  35. 35. TOOL:   hVp://  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  36. 36. True  or  False?     PracCcal  example.   A  company  with  a  new  app  hires  you  as  part  of  an  ambassador   program.  As  part  of  your  requirements  they  ask  you  to  submit  a   posiHve  review  in  an  app  store  along  with  “posiHve  comments.”   If  you  use  the  app  and  like  it  you  do  not  have  to  disclose     you  were  compensated.  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  37. 37. FALSE  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  38. 38. TOOLS   •   •  WOMMA   •  DisclosurePolicy.Org   •  FTC  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  39. 39. FTC  Resources   •  Specific  quesHons:  Email:   •  Revised  Guides  offer  more  than  35  examples   of  how  guidelines  apply  in  pracHcal  sesngs   •  To-­‐the-­‐point  video  clips   •  To  file  a  complaint  or  get   free  informaHon  on  consumer  issues,  visit  or  call  toll-­‐free,  1-­‐877-­‐FTC-­‐HELP   (1-­‐877-­‐382-­‐4357)  #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans  
  40. 40. QuesHons?    #BBsummit11   @PRsarahevans