Do You Disclose Sponsored Posts?

DisclosureDo you disclose sponsored posts? You really should, you know!

Disclosure isn’t something I’ve seen talked about a lot on the web lately, unless it’s people complaining about TechCrunch, or TechCrunch a throwing a rather pathetic hissy fit about biased reviews (see the comments for a good laugh).

Disclosure appears to be something that seasoned bloggers just take for granted and don’t bother talking about, but I think it’s something that we need to keep bringing up because many of today’s bloggers are new to the scene and missed all the fuss.

Back in 2009 the FTC published guidelines regarding the use endorsements and testimonials in advertising . The guidelines basically made it clear that a blogger (or celebrity, but then again we’re all celebrities these days right?) must disclose any arrangement where the company compensates the blogger for a review, positive mention, or sponsored post. This also applies to social platforms such as Twitter and  Facebook.

If you don’t disclose, then you and the company risk being fined.

Here’s a link to to complete guidelines for those new to blogging or who haven’t previously read them: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (.pdf). If the legalese is too much for you check out this post for a more straightforward explanation.

(FWIW – Here’s my original post about these guidelines from 2009)

I post sponsored posts on this blog. I’ve always marked them clearly as being sponsored both in the post itself (as required by the guidelines) as well as stating it clearly on the policies page – here’s an example post I did earlier today for a Samsung campaign.

I don’t do the $5 sponsored posts that many bloggers do. I’m choosy about the campaigns I will do sponsored posts for, and invariably I have to invoice those companies, which means earnings have to be declared when I do taxes etc…

Yet, I wonder how many folks who do the $5 dollar posts actually disclose them. I see pitches for them, or folks asking for them on the various “I’ll do X for $X” sites (that sounded quite dirty didn’t it?), quite regularly. There’s usually no mention of disclosure in the pitch, or they’re deliberately vague with the wording. I also guess that unless you do a huge number of such posts, it’s rather easy to fly under the radar, not declare them for taxes and maybe even slip them past your readers as well.

Lets be honest, it doesn’t take much encouragement for folks to slip $5 bucks here and $10 there into their PayPal account smug in the knowledge that the tax man, and the FTC will probably never know.

As mentioned above, it’s not just the unscrupulous who may not be disclosing their posts, but it’s also those who are new to blogging since 2009, or simply didn’t become aware of it when it was announced.

So have you been disclosing your posts? Have you forgotten about the FTC guidelines? Were you ever aware of them, or do you simply not care?