Two kids' t-shirts (one of them on the model at left) and a onesie from Rabbi's Daughters. Occasionally, review copies of books, some of which I actually end up reviewing. A comped dinner at a now-closed Beverly Hills eatery that turned out to not have been a comp at all. A basket of Hanukkah goodies last year from OhNuts, which I unfortunately never got to review, even though it included chocolate-covered pretzels that were damned good. (How's that for a review?) One trip to Israel with Nefesh B'Nefesh, on a chartered plane carrying new immigrants to Israel. (They had the entire plane anyway, so "paying for my seat" isn't exactly right.) Oh yeah, and occasionally movie screenings for the press. But they don't give us popcorn, so I don't have to declare that here.
Also, those ads in the sidebar represent paying advertisers, some of which have programs that I talk about on the blog if I feel like it. I've had the good fortune of working as a paid consultant with organizations like ROI, JewishTVNetwork.com and the Berman Jewish Policy Archive on things I'm hired for, but which I think are sufficiently impressive to discuss in my non-work (or overtime) contexts as well. And I usually try for full disclosure in those posts.
Why am I telling you all this again now? Because I have to.
This week, the Federal Trade Commission passed some revisions to its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising which affect bloggers. That's right. The FTC's onto the game of swag-for-posts, and they're not going to take it anymore.The FTC's new guide features the addition of: new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed."
These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.So here I am, penitent and prostrate before you. I will declare, as the Boston Globe put it, "We're bloggers: we get free stuff." But I will add that when you're not a fashion blogger or a mommy blogger, the stuff you get isn't usually something so expensive as to inspire a bias in an otherwise unbiased person. When it's a review copy of a book or a movie screener, usually a writer can look past that item's freeness and assess it for what it is, unfettered by bias - even if she is a blogger.