Full Disclosure: discuss

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!


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  • Sarah

    It definitely doesn’t matter to me either way. If I know something is sponsored I might be more likely to think the writer of the sponsored post is biased so I might take the praise of the product with a grain of salt (not with you though because I know you). However, if I don’t know a post is sponsored and then find out that it was, I don’t feel cheated or lied to, it doesn’t both me in the slightest.

    Also, too bad about the tights. They’re so cute!

    • Sarah

      Also, I would have done just what you did. Followed the companies wishes this time, but determined to make it a policy that all sponsored posts are plainly documented as such for the readers.

    • Eccentric Owl

      I agree; if I find out later that someone’s post was sponsored but they didn’t clarify, I don’t really mind. It’s their blog, and most people don’t write about a sponsor unless they do like the product at least a little bit.

      I know. I’m so sad! I have been looking for good heart tights for EVER. Oh, well.

  • Sarah With A Bow

    As a reader, I don’t mind what happens in the blog space as long as the writer is consciously trying to provide me with worthwhile content. Trying to cover up and obvious sponsorship or clearly including something for money that doesn’t belong on the blog? That will raise my ire.

    As for what I would have done, depends on how far into this game I was. I might have done exactly what you did at the time figuring it was their prerogative but now I make sure I identify the few things that need to be identified as sponsored because I want it all out in the open.

    • Eccentric Owl

      Yeah; I think it largely depends on if the post or item is something that actually relates to the blog whether the blogger discloses that it’s sponsored or not. Now that I’m getting more knowledgeable about sponsorship and how that all works, I’m definitely not going to work with any sponsors who wish to be anonymous in the future. I want it all to be open and honest.

    • Eccentric Owl

      If I had known then what I know now, I would definitely have tried to work around it with the company. As it is, I guess all I can do is live and learn. 🙂 But anything else, I definitely always list as c/o or point out the sponsor clearly in the post!

  • kelly

    I think the tricky thing here is what the sponsor made you so. They wanted your readers to feel like you had written it spontaneously; that they hadn’t any influence over you at all. I think they put you in a bad position. You were being completely authentic with your readers, but your sponsor wanted you not to be. I imagine you’d only get involved with a brand or a sponsor if you liked what they did / that it suited your style / beliefs / ethics. I always feel that if i know the blog well, that if I love narrative of their stories and connect with the blogger on that level, if they pop in sponsored posts then that’s all fine – but only if the link between the blog “brand” and the product / brand are congruous. I think it’s nice that they may be getting a freebie or some cash for what they do. What your sponsor asked you to do was essentially shonky. Transparency is key here; they were trying to get your readers to feel like you endorsed their product without any enticement (even if you loved the product and I’m sure that comes across in the sponsored post). Which then makes me question the ethics of the company that asked you to do this. They sound like tricky, sneaky folks!