Blogger Outreach Tips: Understanding The Latest FTC Guidelines

Blogger Outreach Tips: Understanding The Latest FTC Guidelines

By: Shelly Kramer
June 28, 2013

ftc blogger disclosuresWhether you’re a blogger or someone who works with them on blogger outreach campaigns, understanding FTC blogger disclosure guidelines is becoming more important than ever. By following guidelines, you can help protect your blog, brand and/or client—and when it comes to the Internet, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

The FTC’s most recent guidelines were released earlier this month and provide more parameters tied to disclosures in digital advertisers. As MediaPost points out, these updates are “a guardrail, not an ultimatum”—but it’s still essential to not only understand the guidelines, but use them, too. Here’s a look at the updates:

Clear And Conspicuous Disclosures

These two words, “clear” and “conspicuous,” are the words to remember in reference to FTC-compliant blogger disclosures. When disclosing a product or brand tie-in, this information can’t be buried in the post—instead, it must be included at the top of the page. Additionally, the disclosure needs to be formatted in the same text size as the blog and can’t be in a color that makes the information less noticeable than the other content on the page. And hyperlinks used for purposes for disclosure are discouraged by the FTC. And it makes sense, doesn’t it? A disclosure that’s buried or hard to find doesn’t do anyone any good.

Use Hashtags To Distinguish Short-Form Posts

If you’re tweeting or posting another short-form message, the FTC suggests labeling the content with #Ad at the beginning of the content. It’s also acceptable to use #Sponsored, although this is generally less preferred because of the length.

One other note? As Holly Pavlika writes for MediaPost, “The FTC, however, is open to other disclosures other than #Ad and #Sponsored. So, the guidance offers an opportunity if an advertiser is willing to explore other options.” If you’re willing to assume the risk that comes with that sort of experimentation, it might be something worth exploring.

When in doubt? Remember that the FTC is all about clarity and truth. Be upfront about testimonials, product reviews, gifts and other related product or brand tie-ins. And if you’re part of an agency or working on behalf of a blogger outreach campaign, don’t hesitate to include some blogger education in your materials. Don’t just assume bloggers are well-versed in areas like FTC guidelines (although it’s certainly a smart idea). Use the opportunity to present your own suggested disclosure parameters, along with examples, as an added safeguard for your brand and the participating bloggers.

Have you incorporated disclosure education as part of your blogger outreach campaign? What sort of response did you receive?

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