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Disclose business relationships when promoting

By Jacob McKimm

Disclose business relationships you have with content you’re promoting to stay out of trouble.


Jason Mudd talking about how it's important to disclose business relationships when promoting on social media.The internet is filled with all sorts of ways to advertise groups and companies. From quick social media posts to long-term influencer campaigns, there are many ways to tell the world about a company or service you like. At some point, you might feel like promoting brands and companies you work with. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s important that you disclose any business relationships you have with the business or group you’re promoting while doing so.


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Some might find it tempting to promote the product or service without disclosing any relationships to make it more appealing to people. However, this is a very bad idea for several reasons.


Why you should disclose your relationships

First of all, not disclosing your financial relationships with companies you’re promoting is unethical. By not disclosing that a relationship, you’re tricking people into thinking you’re just a fan or satisfied customer of a product or service, when, in reality, you’re working with the group behind the service or product on business terms.



Second of all, not disclosing relationships is in violation of Federal Trade Commission regulations. The FTC’s truth-in-advertising guidelines say you should disclose relationships between you (an endorser) and marketers – if you don’t, your advertisement is misleading. If you aren’t disclosing relationships and get caught, the FTC will fine you. Being deceptive is going to hurt even more when it affects your company’s bottom line.


Finally, being caught can ruin your reputation. Once you’re known as someone who is dishonest about business relationships, then no one will trust what you say in the future. After all, if you can’t tell the truth about a potential conflict of interest, then you’re not very trustworthy. This is particularly important for PR practitioners and social media influencers, as their livelihoods depend on honesty.


How to disclose your relationships

Disclosing your relationships can be done how you want, but it’s important that the disclosure is easy for people to find. Readers must easily be able to know about any relationships you have with a group so they’re informed.


Not sure how to properly disclose business relationships? Check out these examples to get you started:

  • If you are promoting a service you use on your personal social media accounts, disclose that you’re working with them within the post itself. Be upfront and honest about your business relationships instead of trying to weasel out of it.
  • If you will profit from items purchased from third party sites via affiliate links, add a warning at the top of the page or social media post that states you or your company might earn a percentage of sales from items linked within. That way, users clearly know you can profit from items they purchase.

For a full breakdown of how to properly disclose your relationships, refer to the FTC’s guides for websites and influencer marketing.


Being ethical

Disclosing any business relationships you have with something is a habit you should always be in. It’s ethical, keeps you out of trouble with the FTC, and helps you maintain your reputation. It’s easy, too, so there’s no reason not to do it. Trying to pull a fast one on potential customers by not disclosing a business relationship is never worth it.


Need more pointers on properly disclosing business relationships? Contact us and we’ll be happy to give you some tips, straight from PR professionals.


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McKimm_Jacob-1.jpgClients love Jacob’s speed. Jacob is an inbound marketing-certified webmaster. He earned an integrated communications degree from Florida State College at Jacksonville. Jacob joined Axia PR as an intern in August 2015 and earned his way into a critical role at our PR agency.

Topics: PR tips, ethics, social media

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