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Full disclosure to the FTC: We think our clients are great

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].

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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.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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  1. Avatar bay area internet marketing

    Awesome blog. Keep posting such nice and interesting posts.

  2. Avatar Martha Jones

    I have to say that that the FTC guidelines were not needed at all. Come on, people have brains and eyes, don’t they? For example, do you really need to tell people that an ad is an ad? I think it is like insulting their intelligence, if anything!

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