No, I’m not talking about the see-through, Lucite and plastic accessories that seem to be popping up left and right this season. As much as I would have loved for this post to be about transparent accessories on fashion bloggers, I actually want to touch on the issue of transparency within the fashion blogging industry.
I think that the article “Blogger Integrity: Swag, Accountability, & Disclosures” on HeartIFB.com puts it best:
“At IFB, we’ve tried to pound into your head over and over again about FTC blogging regulations and fully disclosing your brand relationships. Get a free product? Disclose it. Receive compensation for a post? Disclose it. Using affiliate links? Disclose it.”
Over the past few years, bloggers have gained more credibility as blogs shifted into a more widely accepted form of media. In fact, several of the bloggers I follow have made full-time careers out of something that they started doing only in their spare time. This goes far beyond beauty bloggers receiving stacks and stacks of free products and fashion bloggers getting clothes and front row seats at fashion shows—some bloggers get monthly cheques as YouTube Partners, some are featured in magazines, land book deals and offers to endorse brands.
As the popularity of blogs continues to rise, so do the issues of accountability and integrity. In its most basic form, transparency in blogging is essentially full disclosure and regrettably, many bloggers fail to make known their relationships with the companies they promote. I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with bloggers getting “gifted” goods or free services, in fact, it’s probably one of the perks that draws so many blogging in the first place. However, part of the appeal that I initially saw in blogs was that due to the lack of editors to please, copies to sell or content restrictions, the opinions could be honest. As freebies and paid reviews are becoming more commonplace in the industry and bloggers are establishing relationships with brands, I’ve noticed that a few of them seem to be less than willing to bite the hand that feeds them, in terms of posting negative reviews. Nevertheless, it has crossed my mind that it may be difficult to discern if the bloggers who tread more carefully in their reviews of certain products are doing so out of fear of damaging their relationship with the company or the fact that people are generally more satisfied with something that is given to them for free.
Although there may be not (yet!) be official rules or limits as to what bloggers in industries such as fashion are required disclose, a good rule of thumb for bloggers would be to divulge anything you think may be seen negatively if revealed later on. Honesty is the best policy in my eyes, because what you think is just a little white lie or an omission of the truth can really come back to bite you.
Remember there is such a thing as…
p.s. Follow the link to HeartIFB.com’s article on “How to Write a Crystal Clear Post Disclosure” which takes a more positive approach on the issue of transparency by “highlighting bloggers and campaigns that did it right, and showing exemplary practices that you can use as an outline for your own disclaimers.”
What are some of your thoughts on blogger transparency? Does finding out that items were gifted or given for free change your opinion of a review? Comment below!