WOMMA Issues Blogger Guidelines For Marketers

Following its release last week of an "Ethics Assessment Tool," which proposed 20 ethics questions that brands, clients and agencies should ask themselves when planning a campaign, the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association yesterday issued a draft of guidelines for bloggers.

Called the WOMMA Ethical Blogger Contract Guidelines, the 10-item checklist aims to help marketers ensure they are always appropriate and ethical when communicating with bloggers.

"It is vital that marketers understand the rules of the road when communicating with bloggers," said WOMMA CEO Andy Sernovitz. "We're committed to making it easy to be ethical."

According to Sernovitz, marketers who want to join blog conversation must first decide if and when it's appropriate, then do it ethically, respectfully, and with good taste.

The new tool comes just several weeks after the recent Edelman flogging fiasco, when the public relations firm and was revealed as the exclusive contributor to a trio of Wal-Mart-friendly blogs that were ostensibly authored by independent writers.



Some of the key points of the new blogging guidelines include: "I will fully disclose who I am and who I work for from the very first encounter when communicating with bloggers or commenting on blogs," and "I will use extreme care when communicating with minors or blogs intended to be read by minors," as well as presumably self-evident guidelines such as: "I will never ask bloggers to lie for me."

Sernovitz pointed out that the document applies specifically to marketers and does not cover "how to blog" or rules for internal blogs. "WOMMA is in no way making a statement on blogger behavior or attempting to assert authority over the blogosphere," Sernovitz said, emphasizing that the organization's job is to educate marketers.

"This tool sets a new standard for disclosure in emerging media," said Robert Ricci, vice president, web relations, Weber Shandwick Web Relations. "Hand these guidelines to everyone on your staff who's working with bloggers, and make sure they follow them."

The entire list is available at www.womma.org/blogger. As with the ethics assessment tool, issued last Wednesday, WOMMA invites comments and suggestions about the blogging guidelines on its Web site through Nov. 14.

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