Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Controversy: Posts with benefits

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the body in charge of consumer protection in America. Sometime in May, it released new guidelines concerning bloggers (in this post I am making reference to beauty bloggers only). The key message from the guideline is that all bloggers must disclose their relationship with a brand/company/celebrity if they review their product as this is considered an endorsement, or risk an $11,000 fine.

This means that if we (beauty bloggers) get free products from a brand to review, then we must disclose that we got those products for free. It also applies where we are paid to do a review.

When I first started blogging, I thought I must buy thousands of products to maintain my blog. Most bloggers start this way. I soon discovered that you can get products from brands to review. I was happy about that but I never knew that you could be paid to blog, until I received an e-mail asking me to do so. Sometimes, a brand or a PR company will contact bloggers with free products to review and/or a certain amount of money for reviewing. This does not mean that we will give good reviews. It just means that we have agreed to review the product and we will get paid.

Most beauty bloggers however only review products that are good. Most of us feel like if a product is crap, then there is no point putting it on our blogs. Unfortunately this means that all we ever give are good reviews. This is what has made people suspicious. Some people feel like we get paid to say that product x or brand x is good or we say so in order to receive more free stuff in future. They feel we are somehow deceiving them into buying things that may not be good but we couldn't care less because we get benefits anyway.

Personally, I would not like to give a brand or a product bad publicity. It potentially has legal implications hence I find this new regulation, even though it does not apply to me because I am in UK, very intimidating and annoying. I have a sneaky feeling it is on it's way across the Atlantic and heading straight this way.

On the other hand, I am the sort of person who reads reviews of everything before I buy. I always read the bad reviews first funnily enough. I want to know what is wrong with that product because I believe that despite the good points, there might be something bad, which someone discovered that everyone else missed. If I were to find out that the people who reviewed a product got paid to do it or received it for free, it would certainly alter my judgement. I wouldn't know whether to trust that review or not. Still, if it was the case that they were paid, I would certainly want to know

It is a real dilemma and I'm sure lot of bloggers will continue posting without disclosing. Honestly what are the odds of getting caught?

I have to say it goes against everything I stand for to deceive people because of some benefit. I am working on having a link/tab to a list of all my sponsored posts in future but I will not yet disclose whether I get some benefit or not to make a post. Since I believe that people should make judgements based on an informed decision, I can promise my readers honesty and transparency on posh-ville. When I review a product I will always say what is good and also what is bad, and I will never review a product that I have not seen or tried. Remember that what I am saying is what I think and that it is ultimately up to you whether you invest in a product or not. It is your choice whether to believe my reviews or not, all I can assure you is that I will be honest about what I say.

Stay beautiful...

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