The Word of Mouth Marketing Association introduced a new code of ethics for marketers as they interact with bloggers.
The WOMMA Ethics Blogger Contact Guidelines offer 10 rules to teach staffers who talk to bloggers.
Meanwhile, computer giant Dell Inc. was the first to sign up for WOMMA’s Ethics Adoption Toolkit, a collaborative document library for companies that want to make a formal commitment to ethics in word of mouth marketing.
The contact guidelines and the toolkit are both part of WOMMA Practical Ethics program which also contains a third element, 20-questions ethics assessment tool for preventing unethical word-of-mouth campaigns.
“The challenge for marketers is that they are asked to participate in the free and open blog conversation, but there is little or no guidance on how to do it the right way,” said Andy Sernovitz, CEO of WOMMA, Chicago.
These guidelines come soon after a couple of bloggers failed to disclose they were paid to write complimentary comments about Wal-Mart on since removed blog, “Wal-Marting Across America.”
Here are the guidelines:
1. I will always be truthful and will never knowingly relay false information. I will never ask someone else to deceive bloggers for me.
2. I will fully disclose who I am and who I work for (my identity and affiliations) from the very first encounter when communicating with bloggers or commenting on blogs.
3. I will never take action contrary to the boundaries set by bloggers. I will respect all community guidelines regarding posting messages and comments.
4. I will never ask bloggers to lie for me.
5. I will use extreme care when communicating with minors or blogs intended to be read by minors.
6. I will not manipulate advertising or affiliate programs to impact blogger income.
7. I will not use automated systems for posting comments or distributing information.
8. I understand that compensating bloggers may give the appearance of a conflict of interest, and I will therefore fully disclose any and all compensation or incentives.
9. I understand that if I send bloggers products for review, they are not obligated to comment on them. Bloggers can return products at their own discretion.
10. If bloggers write about products I send them, I will proactively ask them to disclose the products’ source.