I am feeling a bit confused about what the FTC expects for bloggers when it comes to disclosing if the post is sponsored (meaning someone paid you to write it) or if you received a product in exchange for a review.
My understanding has always been that you need to make a disclosure statement for any and every post that contains such content. But I've been hearing lately that having a "disclosure policy" on your blog somewhere (perhaps it is one of your tabs) is sufficient. Is this really true?
I find it to be a bit ethically questionable, for example, to have keywords linked back to a particular site, and that site paid you to do it, but you don't disclose this in the post, itself. Ethics aside, though, is that permissible in the eyes of the FTC as long as you have a blanket disclosure policy on your site?
This need for clarification is because a particular sponsored post company I work with repeatedly sends me offers, but they almost always state that I cannot disclose that the post is sponsored in the post, itself. When I questioned them about this practice, they stated what I mentioned above about just having a general disclosure policy. I have been declining all the offers, thinking that they were all in violation. But am I incorrect?
You should definitely be disclosing the relationship and I've seen people say that a general disclosure is NOT good enough. Try reading some of Susan Getgood's posts on the topic. It's enlightening and I think it'll answer your questions.
(There are related posts at the bottom that give more details as well.)
It's very possible that company will get in trouble with the FTC for that. In fact, I'd honestly be tempted to report them if they're trying to skirt the FTC rules. The FTC is more interested in making sure companies comply than they are worried about the individual bloggers.
I would not work with a company who specifically says not to disclose it in the post. FTC compliant or not, that seems shady to me. I think they should be disclosed. Now, I know a general disclosure works some of the time so if YOU felt it didn't need to be disclosed than I wouldn't harp on it because ultimately that it is your decision to make. But, since you feel it should be disclosed and the company is saying not to disclose it... not a good sign. At the least, it needs to be up to the blogger who is actually posting the material.