At the 2010 BlogHer conference, a smart session about the FTC guidelines and blogger disclosure lead to lively discussions.

On the panel, BlogHer's co-founder and CEO Lisa Stone, marketer Susan Getgood, blogger Kimberly Coleman and Stacey Ferguson from the FTC talked about the guidelines, misinformation and suggested ways to disclose relationships with companies and brands.

The biggest takeaway for bloggers is that the guidelines are just that – guides, not laws. No fines will be handed out and no one will go to jail for failing to disclose.

However, as a writer and reviewer with a relationship to readers, the onus is on the blogger to treat her/his audience with respect and transparency.

Suggested disclosure includes:

  •  An About or Disclosure page that lists previous and current brand and corporate relationships; and
  •   A disclosure at the bottom of each blog post, in case a reader arrives from a search and is unfamiliar with the site;
  • Also, affiliate links should be noted. An effective way to handle that is through hover text so it’s unobtrusive but noticeable.
  • Don’t have set language for every disclosure but to put it in the writer’s voice. This is why the FTC does not provide suggested language and why brands should not prescribe exact statements.

Recently, the FTC added a FAQ to accompany the guidelines. Of course, because this is fairly new, it will continue to evolve. But when in doubt, always disclose or explain relationships.

For assistance, see blogwithintegrity.com and BlogHer's community guidelines.

Tonja Deegan