10 principles for ethical blogger contact have been published by WOMMA – although you have to question their effectiveness after the recent Edelman-Walmart flogs (fake blogs) debacle (PR giant, Edelman being heavily involved in WOMMA). However, the list is a handy reference for public relations practitioners entering the blogosphere:
1. Always be truthful, never knowingly relay false information and never ask someone else to deceive bloggers
2. Fully disclose your identity and affiliations, from the first encounter with bloggers or when commenting on blogs
3. Never take action contrary to the boundaries set by bloggers; respect all community guidelines when posting messages and comments
4. Never ask bloggers to lie for you
5. Use extreme care when communictaing with minors or blogs intended to be read by minors
6. Do not manipulate advertising or affiliate programs to impact blogger income
7. Do not use automated systems for posting comments or distributing information
8. Understand that compensating bloggers may give the appearance of conflict of interest – therefore fully disclose any and all compensation or incentives
9. If sending bloggers products for review, understand they are not obligated to comment on them and can return products at their own discretion
10. If bloggers write about products sent to them, proactively ask them to disclose the products’ source.
Someone failing the code’s first principle is the Strumpette – a PR “insider” whose blog (a naked journal of the PR business) has got the US PR and media world chattering thanks to some vitrolic postings. “She” even made the Washington Post website in the Summer. Of course, PR is ripe for satire – and often deserves it – however it is a shame that the Strupette adopts a pseudonym – Amanda Chapel – rather than being prepared to stand robustly behind the comments made. Openness and transparency have to be PR’s credo when blogging or we’ll never change the reputation the Strumpette so mercilessly mocks.