Trylon Communications  - February 2006

Blog Buzz Backfire

As blogs proliferate across the web, questions will arise about how a blogger should disclose relationships with people or companies about which they write. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal about Spanish tech start-up FON illustrates this dilemma.

FON Technology SL recently received a major funding round from Google and Skype. The company has a nine member advisory board, and most of them have their own weblogs.

Many of the advisory board members have posted information about FON on their blogs, in some cases disclosing that they were being paid by the company as advisors, and in other cases disclosing that they were on the advisory board but not mentioning any compensation. The issue is further clouded because none of the members have yet received compensation, and their packages have yet to be defined.

This gray area is more difficult to gauge than simpler cases of imprudent PR, such as hiring journalists to write “independent” articles or editing news releases when posting them to their website.

The best way to approach the situation is to constantly disclose any relationships one has with a company. Whether pitching a blogger, writing a blog of your own, or talking with a blogger on the phone, always make sure that any relationships are disclosed.