I got a notice back in Dec 09 that the FTC wants me to tell you when I’m being paid to write about a topic. You can read about it at http://ftc.gov/multimedia/video/business/endorsement-guides.shtm and a full text is at http://ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf.
Fortunately, this has never been a concern for me. I was directly offered compensation once and refused. That one post is A Product Review – BizWiki.co.uk. I start that post by stating that I was asked to do the review and would receive compensation. I then wrote “I am accepting no money for this review. I told KMM that I would do the review, would not accept payment, and in exchange I would write what I felt to be accurate.”
Likewise, I was once asked to do a review of What’s in a Name? Bill Sweetman’s YummyNames but that time the company itself contacted me. I did interview them, realized they were doing something I’d been doing for years (and before they “marketed” it) and wrote about them to reinforce a lesson to myself — Just because something is obvious to me doesn’t mean it’s obvious to others. There’s opportunities in what’s obvious. This piece of wisdom became a NextStage Principle, What is a Dark Mystery to you is Perfectly Obvious to someone else (and vice versa).
Generally speaking, though, I’ve always been suspicious of people who write about a product because they’ve received some remuneration for doing so. Long, long ago a company offered to validate NextStage’s Evolution Technology for a 51% interest in the company. We read their offer and listened to their pitch a good 4-5 times because, frankly, it confused the crap out of us. We asked “How can you do a fair validation study knowing that, should you validate what our technology does, you’ll be the primary beneficiaries of that validation?”
We were told we didn’t fully appreciate what they were offering us.
Something makes me think we did, all too well, and that it wasn’t exactly something we could stomach. Then again, we don’t come from a business paradigm where (we’ve learned) such things are common.
Still, when it came time to validate Evolution Technology, we went with groups we knew would tell us the truth of the validation tests regardless of everything else.
Those tests went wonderfully.
Generally, though, I think I’m pretty good on those FTC rules.
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