When I first heard of the FTC's move to force bloggers to reveal who they're giving endorsements to (companies/people) in exchange for gifts or paid advertising, it focused on the Mommy and Daddy blogosphere and I remember thinking that's a good thing.
I mean, I particpate to a certain degree in that space and if I'm going to trusted blogs I read and they're pushing a specific product or service, I'd like to know if the wheels are being greased, although it isn't that hard to figure out - there is a degree of self-policing that works. I don't pitch stuff on mine in exchange for freebies and money, but that's not my motivation for personally blogging either.
Then I read the extensive article in Workforce Management this morning titled A Tighter Rein on HR Blogging?
I thought Good God no - please don't do this FTC. It'll be hard enough to enforce as is, but most blogs that I read in the HR marketplace or beyond aren't hard news traditional media sites that are supposed accountable for their content and sources or reveal their advertisers/customers.
Some might have a mix of credible news, like Cheezhead, but most HR blogs can be valuable resources full of commentary, opinion, industry insight and best practices, some cited research when applicable, levity, true voice that's transparent (no anonymity please), and basically people I've come to trust.
People I've come to trust - not companies, products or services. People talking about what they know and how it might help you (and your company). The brain-trust of HR blogging is intact and credible.
According to the Workforce Management article:
Most blogs allow readers to post comments - including anonymous remarks - and these let the audience challenge authors. What's more, the tight-knit nature of the [HR] field limits deception by bloggers, [Maren] Hogan argues. (Maren blogs at FOT and Marenated.)
While your website may be your marketing portal, your blog is the window into you as the representative of your business/industry (or many of you if more than person blogs for your business).
People do business with people they trust and have relationships with. Your readership has a relationship with you (via your blog).
We’ve been blogging since 2004 and have seen tremendous growth in our readership (relationships), but not just because we blog consistently (and sometimes intelligently) about marketing, PR and business topics in the HR space. It’s because we read other blogs and make comments and spur honest dialogue – we participate in transparent conversations about our business and offer resources and commentary for others to profit from, paying it forward so to speak.
In turn, we’ve seen our thought leadership grow and in turn our business grow (in conjunction with other traditional and Web 2.0 and social media marketing activities).
In other words, we’ve got good street cred, and it pays great dividends. Remember, trust is the currency of blogging and all social media. Without it, your efforts will fail and fail miserably.
So no, HR bloggers don't need to be policed - their readership does that.
And yes, we do push our own agenda at times that includes spotlighting HR suppliers we work with.
That's because we're a marketing firm. It's what we do.
Don't you trust me?
Post by Kevin Grossman (join me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn)
Labels: blogging, FTC, marketing and PR, social media