by: Carol Bryant
Have you ever been asked to write a product review for a company’s service or product? If you are a blogger or microblogger, no doubt you either have (countless numbers of times) or you will be courted if you are just starting out.
There are two basic tenets you must follow if you are blogging about a product or service that you did not purchase yourself:
1 You must disclose that you received the free product;
2 You must also disclose if you were paid. You do NOT have to disclose how much you were paid;
Disclosure is something that must be followed per FTC guidelines. If you read the BlogPaws blog on a regular basis, interact in our community, and/or attend a BlogPaws Conference, we stress the importance and legality of disclosure.
Brands that pay for bloggers to engage in a program know that disclosure is imperative and necessary. Are you aware of these other “must do’s” with regard to being paid to work for/with a brand?
Earlier this year the FTC recently tightened online disclosure requirements. In response to this , FTC representative, Mary Engle, led a session during the BlogPaws 2013 Conference.
“The revised .com disclosures guidance is intended to help clarify when advertising disclosures do and don’t work on the small screen. The law hasn’t changed – if a disclosure is needed to prevent an ad from being deceptive, then the disclosure must be clear and conspicuous, no matter where or how the ad runs,” Engle tells BlogPaws. “But given the space constraints of mobile advertising, we wanted to provide guidance to advertisers on how to comply with this aspect of the law. Our goal is one we think your readers will share: to make sure there are no hidden catches or other misleading omissions in online or mobile promotions.”
Fellow BlogPaws Community Member and blogger, Paris Permenter of Dogtipper.com, attended one of our product review sessions and wrote an exceptional piece with highlights. Paris’ post on product reviews is worth checking out.
According to Mary Engle, “Disclosures should be placed as close as possible to the claim they qualify.”
So don’t hide your disclosure in a location where it cannot be seen or is hard to find.
Can You Use Hyperlinks?
BlogPaws works with many brands and through our Pet Bloggers Opportunity Network, we are able to facilitate relationships between bloggers and brands. Bloggers are a force with which to be reckoned and are on the fast ascent to rock star status in the pet industry.
If you don't like the product, let us know. It is best not to engage in product reviews if you don't believe it nor use the product to begin with. I wouldn't test kitty litter: I don't have a cat. In turn, if you test a product and it fails miserably you have a few routes to take. I always touch base with the company or the client. In this case, tell us here at BlogPaws. Be transparent and we will work with you.
Think about who reads your product reviews: Other pet parents. I trust the reviews given by pet bloggers whom I respect, and I especially get the warm fuzzies when product reviews are accompanied by:
- Real pets using the product or service;
- Photographs of the said real pets;
- Bonus points if I can see the product in action;
- Information on the details of the product or service, price, warranties, pros and cons if applicable;
When I see a disclosure statement I merely brush that off as transparency and actually gain a higher level of respect for the blogger for revealing the truth to me, the reader.
BlogPaws and its sponsors never pay for anything other than an honest review with full disclosure. We’re even fans of the no-follow rule, and our bloggers are encouraged to use it. Not sure what a “no-follow” is? We’ve got you covered:
Have you checked out our Pet Blogger Opportunity Network? We’re all about disclosure, honesty, and helping brands and bloggers work together. Any questions? We’re all ears.