I blog, therefore I Cmp.ly

Last week I attended a webinar (no, I wasn’t sure what it was either until it began) run by Tom Chernaik from the company Cmp.ly, which covered topics including the relationship between bloggers and pr companies and how trust is built between bloggers and their readers. It certainly made for interesting listening.
The webinar consisted of a lecture accompanied with a visual presentation of how, if you are a blogger, that being transparent, following guidelines and disclosing information will keep bloggers within the law. At this point I will add that the guidelines mentioned were US specific and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has no jurisdiction in other countries. However, the US guidelines state that bloggers need to disclose if they have any material connections with companies for products and services they may be featuring and that a disclosure on their blog alone is not sufficient and in fact needs to be stated in every blog post, tweet and link that is put out into the world wide web to promote themselves.
So, say for example, you are sent a product to review for free from a pr company. You may have a site wide disclosure stating that from time to time you review products but all opinions are your own. If (in the US) you write a post reviewing said item, you need to add a disclosure to the post as you have a responsibility for having a transparent communication with your readership plus you need to add a disclosure across all platforms you use including status updates.
Things that need to be disclosed include (but are not limited to) include: material connections, personal connections, gifts, paid posts, review products, samples, contests and promotions. That said, I can’t imagine a major crackdown on those that don’t disclose every item but I do think that in the interest of having a trustworthy relationship with your readers that disclosing connections are certainly a good idea.
In the UK, as far as I can tell (I am not law minded), there are no specific laws or guidelines for bloggers who have relationships with pr and marketing companies. But we do have guidelines under the trades description act and fair trading for businesses and for copyright laws, all of which should be taken into consideration as there can be a fine line now as to what some online content is considered to be.
Even though the ftc rules don’t apply over here, in a bid to be more open about review products, as well as having a site wide disclosure, from now on I will be adding a disclosure badge to each blog post which will look like this:
If you click on the badge it will take you to a page with written details of the disclosure e.g.this post includes a review product sent to me from a pr company.
So what do you think of the blogging guidelines? Do you already disclose to your readers? How far do you think disclosing goes to creating an honest blogging relationship?



  1. says

    Great post! I always disclose PR samples. I’m in Dubai and as far as I know we don’t have those laws yet, either. But I just feel like my reviews are honest as it is, so I have nothing to hide. I know some other bloggers feel it’s no ones business, but I personally feel that if you are telling the truth about a product then you should have no problems disclosing that it was sent to you for free.

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