Our Public Relations code of ethics hasn’t changed.
On October 5, the Federal Trade Commission unveiled the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. The same day, Twitter, blogs and sites like Mashable were buzzing. I too was a bit frenzied about what this meant for my clients. Would it mean an abrupt halt to sending bottles of shampoo, baskets or glue to bloggers willing to test our products and share their views with the world?
I was fortunate to listen to a presentation from three FrostBrownTodd attorneys specializing in advertising, marketing and media as they shared insights into the new FTC regulations. After asking a lot of questions about pitching bloggers, the appropriate use of paid spokespeople and Tweeting about my clients, I realized something. As PR professionals and members of PRSA, we’re already bound by the Code of Ethics to “reveal the sponsors for causes and interests represented” and ensure “open communication to help foster informed decision making.”
The new FTC guidelines may impact how I approach future blogger meet ups, product review pitches and relationships with third parties, but it won’t stop me from continuing to incorporate social media tools and sponsorships into public relations campaigns and media relations strategies.
The FTC regulations go into effect Dec. 1, 2009. Before that time, I encourage you to review these new guidelines and consider what changes you may need to make, if any. More information is available on the FTC Web site.