In December of 2009, the Federal Trade Commission began requiring that bloggers disclose their relationships with brands and companies who supply them with products or who sponsor individual posts. In the two and a half years since this story broke, disclosure has become so routine that both brands and bloggers take it for granted. But crafting the language that appears in a campaign or post — the “I got this for free” words that the blogger appends to her post — can be tough.
I know; I’ve spent three days this week working on a disclosure statement for bloggers working for me.
I’m a partner in a small hyperlocal social media consulting firm; we broker compensated campaigns involving bloggers and businesses in the Oklahoma City area. Currently the majority of our bloggers are being paid in trade — in other words, they receive a product or service in exchange for a review post. Recently, though, we’ve started bidding on larger campaigns that will involve paying bloggers to do more extensive work. For each type of campaign, we have been very specific with both the businesses and the bloggers: Disclosure is not optional.
In order to make this simpler for everyone involved, we have written two different disclosure statements, one for posts where the bloggers are paid in trade and one for posts where the blogger is paid in American dollars. For trade campaigns, our language looks like this:
This is a sponsored post; [BUSINESS NAME] provided [GOODS/SERVICES] to me as a member of the Engage OKC community, but all words and opinions are my own.
The blogger posts that at the bottom of her post, ideally in a slightly different font from the rest of what she’s written, to make it easily distinguishable from her post.
For campaigns where the blogger is paid, our disclaimer is slightly different:
This is a sponsored post; I was compensated for my work by Engage OKC, but all words and opinions are my own.
The business pays for the post, but my company pays the bills, and thus we get credit for sponsoring the post. However, we are also borrowing some language used by Clever Girls Collective to introduce posts underwritten by larger companies. They are currently running a campaign with Old Navy, and before each post in the series, the blogger includes this wording:
This post is underwritten by Old Navy. Whether you’re looking for a tankini, bikini or a one piece, Old Navy has you confidently covered. Check out their June swim sale and visit an Old Navy store June 21-24 and save up to 60%.
We like this approach for a couple of reasons; it foregrounds the client’s business, rather than Clever Girls’, which is what they’re promoting in the post. It includes specific SEO-optimized links to the client’s site. Finally, it offers readers a context in which to think about this individual post, something more than just the one-off review provided in this specific blog post.
No matter what your approach to the blog disclaimer is, it is crucial that you have one. While you can rely on the majority of bloggers to be up front about the fact that they were compensated for their work, it’s worth your time and energy to craft a statement that is organic to your brand and that can be passed on to bloggers who work with you on compensated campaigns.
Image via Anastàssia/Flickr