Friday, October 09, 2009

Sponsorship Transparency and the FTC

Hello Fellow Fashion-Lovers!

I wanted to write a quick letter with regard to the Federal Trade Commission's new regulations on blog advertising and sponsorship. I've been meaning to address the topic for awhile now, and with this recent AdAge.com bulletin, now is as good a time as any.

The official word is that the FTC will start cracking down on bloggers who are posting opinions and product reviews that are bought. This is part of a bigger effort to provide readers worldwide with honest, expert information. The FTC is worried that people posing as 'experts' in their field are actually paying lip service to companies who want their products and services to look and sound good. Bloggers must clearly indicate when an opinion or review has been paid for or in some other way sponsored via "material connection." This will go into effect December 1st, 2009. Some people find these new guidelines laughable, because it's true, there's no real way the FTC can crack down on bloggers who they suspect aren't obeying the rules. But I believe it is good to have prescriptive behavioral guidelines in place that would allow the commission to penalize those who break these laws, when caught.

I just want to let you know, straight-up, that Style Bard and Style Bard Shoes never have and never will sell you anything but an honest, editorial opinion. It has always been my personal policy not to let money or goodies dictate a product review. I will always let you know when I have received products by mail to review, or been compensated in some way for advertising. Most--but not all--of the banners in the sidebar, you can imagine, are in some way compensated. However, everything in the content of the blogs is my unendorsed opinion. If an article is paid, you will see the word "sponsored" either in the title, or within the first sentence of the blog post. If companies send me samples to review, I will indicate whether or not I am keeping the items--but please know that I would never let some shiny trinket in my possession affect my review. I do not and never will sell my opinion. I only allow companies to send samples for review so that I can then in turn provide my readers with firsthand information about the product. The first suggestion I make to potential advertisers is donating a prize to my readers; y'all should know that I do not make a penny on contests run on my blogs. If vendors want to give you guys free stuff? I am more than happy to facilitate that endeavor by negotiating a fair contract and advertising the contests. I get nada out of contests, and it's the first recommendation I make to fashion outlets who want to advertise to you. Furthermore, I do not accept advertising for products that are unrelated to your interests (such as cookware, or gadgets). And before I accept actual cash money to write about an item, on top of letting the prospective client know that I will be telling you it's sponsored in very forthright wording, I am very careful to negotiate what kind of verbiage can and cannot be used. I will not make it seem like I have seen or tried anything if I actually haven't. I will not make it sound like I personally endorse anything that I don't like. I will never say that ugly shoes are cute.

Oh yes--and I should also reassure SB and SBS readers that any and all marginal profit I make from these two websites? Is used to maintain these two websites. No; the Style Bard is not running out to the mall with her hard-earned advertising dollars (besides which, rest assured, we'd be talking about a jaunt to Forever 21 and not a spending spree at Saks). GoDaddy.com gets a significant chunk of advertising dollars; I'm next going to invest in a much more polished (and paid) newsletter account so that I can actually regularly update readers about what's going on, instead of sending sporadic emails. Let me say it loud and clear: I'm not here to make a profit. This website was always started because I wanted to write about fashion, and share my opinions with others. And though I've now branched from this blog to Style Bard Shoes and OMNY, all of my writing continues in the same spirit. Cause you gotta trust me--if I were in blogging for the money I'd have quit a long, long, long time ago.

Well, I think that says what I set out to say. I just wanted to let y'all know that you can always trust the content on Style Bard and Style Bard Shoes--and that's because I'm not some money-hungry commercialized bigwig blogger. I do it 'cause I love it, and I'm honest because I care. Not just because the FTC is telling me to.

~SB

[PS: Speaking of which, check back later today for a product review on www.TheHookup.com!]

2 comments:

jdot said...

i'm so glad i found this blog, i love it! i am also from south florida and living in NYC! welcome!!

The Style Bard said...

I'm glad you found me, too! How long have you lived in NYC?

~SB