FTC’s Endorsement Guide Maintains Focus on Transparency, Deceptiveness

In a sense, some of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) communication is as far away from good PR as you can get. As we know, clear, unambiguous, concise communication is the gold standard for PR. Conversely, a joke holds that if  the FTC and other government writing were clear, lawyers’ incomes would suffer, since anyone could interpret it.

You want mystery in detective novels and TV thrillers, not business, where uncertainty is like kryptonite.

Yet, based on its communication, about endorsers at least, the FTC spends a lot of time in a cloudy environment. The Commission’s communication isn’t deceptive necessarily, but sometimes even the experts–lawyers who specialize in reading FTC tea leaves–are uncertain about its message and intention.

Indeed, even some of the FTC’s language is dissonant. Nearly everyone uses the terms influencer or creator when speaking about people who tout products on social. Yet the FTC insists on calling them endorsers.

Even when the Sun breaks through the FTC clouds, myriad questions remain. Evidence is May 19, when the FTC released its long-awaited updated Endorsement Guides.

Last revised in 2009–a lifetime ago in internet years–the Guides cover social media compliance.


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