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Gini Dietrich

New FTC Guidelines Should Affect All Who Review Products

By: Gini Dietrich | October 12, 2009 | 
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This won’t come as news to most of you: Last week the FTC released its new disclosure guidelines for bloggers. I don’t have a vested interest in this as I don’t make money from blogging. And I do believe there should be disclosure and honesty for anyone who writes a review for a product, including affiliate marketers, paid tweeters, and bloggers. This isn’t news to you, either as I’ve blogged about this before.

But what is of interest is what other non-paid bloggers are saying about the guidelines.

Paul Holmes, last week, wrote that bloggers are now held to a higher standard than traditional journalists. Then Davina Brewer wrote that she agrees disclosure is key and this is a no brainer for bloggers (plus it’s worth the read just to see how she uses “glitter-farting ponies).

Which I agree with.

But, to Paul’s point, why are journalists held to a different standard? As PR pros, we send products to reporters ALL THE TIME for review. They don’t have to disclose whether or not they received the product free-of-charge, nor if they kept it for personal use. Some media outlets do have no soliticitation rules in that they either can’t accept products or that they donate them to charities. But some outlets don’t have those rules.

Think about all of the DJ drops you’ve done in your careers. Think about all of the elaborate media kits you’ve produced. Think about how many green rooms you’ve sat in while you waited to hand off your client’s next best thing. How many times has the reporter said, “This review was made possible by the free-of-charge drop from XYZ client’s PR firm”?

Sure, a few years ago we had to stop doing video news releases without attribution to the client and most advertorials now say PAID ADVERTISING across the top of them. But there are some bloggers who are MUCH MORE influential than some journalists, yet the guidelines are different?

Shouldn’t journalists be held to the same FTC guidelines as bloggers?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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