Way back in 2009 British Mummy Bloggers started the Blogging With Integrity campaign, to encourage mum bloggers to be above-board and transparent in all their dealings with sponsors. At that time in America, the Federal Trade Commission was getting involved in regulating blogs’ sponsorship relationships, and our hope was that this voluntary program would avoid the back-tracking and PR blackouts that were going on in the States.
Now, recent action by the UK’s Office to Fair Trading demonstrates that Blogging With Integrity is more relevant than ever. The OFT has required a network of blogs to clearly identify promotional and sponsored content. It states that not disclosing paid-for promotional content – on a blog or microblog like Twitter – constitutes deceptive practice under fair trading laws. And this wasn’t some little network you’ve never heard of. This was Handpicked Media, one of the most visible blogging networks, best known for its focus on fashion and beauty.
Here’s what the OFT says:
Through the signed undertakings, [Handpicked Media] has agreed not to engage in promotional activity unless bloggers within its network prominently disclose, in a manner unavoidable to the average consumer, that the promotion has been paid for or otherwise remunerated.
Read the full OFT press release.
“Unavoidable to the average consumer” is pretty clear. If you have received a product and written about it, gone on a free trip, or received remuneration of any kind to write about something, then it needs to be crystal clear upfront to anybody who comes across your blog.
There’s never a better time to sign up to or reinvigorate your commitment to disclosure.
Here’s how to blog with integrity:
- Make transparent any relationships with products or companies. Eg: If you have received a product for free to review, make sure that’s mentioned in the review. If you have an ongoing relationship with a sponsor, be clear about it, describing it in a post or disclosure page and linking back to it in related posts.
- Clearly label advertising, advertorials and/or sponsored posts.
- Always write truthfully about a product or company.
- Observe intellectual property rights.
Here’s how some BMB members have told their readers about their sponsor relationships:
DO YOU HAVE ONE OR TWO MORE EXAMPLES?
Tell us how you write about products or companies in a clear and fair way – how you blog with integrity.