IFB recently published an article dealing with bloggers, sponsors, and full disclosure of sponsored items or posts, and I think it is a very good article to read, both for information and for discussion.
As a brief rundown of the post, in case you don’t want to read it or don’t have time, they basically talk about easy and gracious ways to highlight that something is sponsored, and they briefly touch on the FTC guidelines stating bloggers must disclose sponsored posts/items. Mostly, the article gives us bloggers some ideas on how to non-awkwardly state that a post or item is sponsored.
Now, I’m pretty new to sponsorships, but I already know from the example of other bloggers to highlight a sponsored item. It’s a courtesy both to the sponsor– to give them credit where it is due– and also to my readers– to be completely honest with them. But, as a new-to-sponsorships blogger, I did not realize that highlighting a sponsor is actually a must. FTC guidelines, which I didn’t know about, state that bloggers must disclose:
– When you receive a free product and review it
– When you link to the product’s website and receive a commission (called an affiliate program)
– When you receive money, product or services for posting about a product
– When you review a product or service that comes from an advertiser on your site
(taken from IFB’s post)
Now, a little while ago I was contacted by a company who connected me with their customer, and wanted me to write a blog post about their customer’s product. They didn’t give me any guidelines other than it should relate somehow to the product. After I wrote the post and published it with the usual “Sponsor Spotlight” title, added it to my “sponsors” category, and disclosed at the bottom that, basically, it was a sponsored post but all of the opinions were my own, the company contacted me and requested that I remove all of my references to them being a sponsor. In their experience, they said, blogger posts worked better for marketing if it wasn’t highlighted as a sponsored post.
And, since I am new to all of this, I happily obliged. I figured, first of all, that they were paying me for the post, therefore it wasn’t that big of a deal to follow their request. And secondly, all of the opinions in the post were definitely mine; I loved the company’s product, and everything I expressed about it was very true. I wasn’t sure how readers who noticed the sponsorship references leave would feel, but since it was an honest post about a product I thought was beautiful, I didn’t feel too bad. I would just as soon have written about the company’s product on my own without payment.
Now my question to you all: how would you deal with a sponsor who wishes to remain anonymous after you have published a post? Would you have obliged, like I did, or responded that you would like to keep the sponsor clarification? As a reader, do you feel offended if you know something is sponsored on the blog yet it is not specified by the blogger? Are you more willing to visit a site if you know it’s sponsored, or do you more trust posts that a blogger seems to talk about on their own? Or does it make a difference?
In the future, I will clarify that I must be allowed to specify any sponsor as such when I am reviewing a product or have received something from them, and I’ve added that little line at the bottom of my sponsorship page. That way, potential sponsors or affiliates know right away that they’ll be highlighted, as nicely as possible, and that there is no anonymity in working with me.
So, tell me your thoughts. What would you have done in my place?
Side note: those tights up there? That was the first and last time I wore them. Five minutes after I put them on, I tried to adjust them and BAM a run happened. *sigh* This is probably a good example to not buy cheap tights, especially if they only come in one size.
I hope you all have a beautiful Wednesday!