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I’m still struggling with the whole full disclosure thing from the FTC. It’s not that I disagree with it–in fact, I think I have been following their guidelines all along. But now I feel like I really need to watch myself or I’m going to jail. All this was brought to mind when Mashable featured the work that Converseon [full disclosure: I am Converseon's Chief Strategist] client Telstra [full disclosure: I have tangentially worked on the Telstra account for Converseon] did to publicize its social media guidelines with an interactive learning module [full disclosure: oh wait, I don't think I need to say anything this time].
I think the thing that annoys me the most is that it really screws up a decent story to constantly be disclosing. It feels like the blogging equivalent of TMI (my daughter has explained to me that means “too much information”).
So, I’d like to tell you the story about what Telstra did. Not because they are a Converseon client, but because it is cool. And this isn’t a story that shills for Converseon, because Converseon didn’t create this cool learning module. Converseon didn’t create the content. [Full disclosure: Telstra is a Converseon client and Converseon did provide advice for this project.] But it’s safer for you to scroll back up and read the Mashable story or Telstra’s own blog post and look at the module yourself.
The truth is that Telstra is a Converseon client but they are a really smart client. The story is not about Converseon–it’s about Telstra. They wanted to do this and they did it. It’s only the FTC that causes me tell this story mentioning the name Converseon more than Telstra because I don’t want anyone to think that I am trying to shill Converseon. I think it is a more honest and more compelling story if Converseon were never mentioned.
But I know that is unrealistic. I know that even without the FTC rules, I would have disclosed that Telstra is a Converseon client and that I work for Converseon. And I’m not sure what to do about that. I know that openness and transparency and full disclosure are all good. I know that it’s important for readers to understand all the relationships and entanglements of the blogger to be able to evaluate the credibility of the information from that blogger. And I don’t even begrudge the FTC’s rules–everyone isn’t as scrupulous about this stuff as I have been, I know.
But I do miss just being able to tell a good story, even if I happen to know the story because I work with the subject of the story. Instead, I wait for Mashable to tell the story so that when I bring it up it has Mashable’s credibility, in case you doubt mine in this situation.
I don’t know what to do about any of this. I am just noticing that we are losing something here and I don’t think we are going to get it back.
About Mike Moran
Mike Moran has a unique blend of marketing and technology skills that he applies to raise return on investment for large marketing programs. Mike is a former IBM Distinguished Engineer and the Senior Strategist at Converseon, a leading social consultancy. Mike is the author of two books on digital marketing, an instructor at several leading universities, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Society of New Communications Research.