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The Top 5 FTC Definitions In Podcaster Pay-For-Play Laws

Beyond • April 25, 2014

Pay for play is not in any way a phenomenon which has first surfaced in the social media podcast age. Payola was common in the vaudeville era of the Roaring Twenties and in 1959 Alan Freed, the DJ who popularized the term rock and roll, faced trial for accepting money to play specific records on the air. When it comes to the Wild Wild Web, podcasters are just as responsible for adhering to rules which prohibit pay for play as anyone working in the more traditional forms of media such as radio and television… and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wields the legislative sword to ensure that everyone complies. Yes, podcasts are regulated by the FTC The FTC is well aware that endorsements from all types of influential sources are an important factor which assists consumers in making purchasing decisions. That is the primary reason why the Commission mandates that whenever anyone (and that includes podcasters) are sharing content with any audience in the United States which a “reasonable consumer” could interpret as an influence, a disclosure of the relationship with the promoted party will be “clearly and conspicuously” included. There are various definitions of terms included in the FTC regulations which must be clearly understood by all podcasters but these are the five most significant: Material relationships. Also known as material connections, they are the existing connections between a podcaster engaged in endorsements and the marketer of a specified product or service. Deception. The FTC regulations specify that a statement made on a podcast is deceptive if it can be deemed to mislead a “significant minority” of consumers. That is a very critical statement as even if one out of five of your podcast listeners could be seen as being deceived by your podcast you could be in some very hot legal waters. Clear and conspicuous. The placement of the disclosure in your podcast about your endorsement has to be “discernable and understood” by an average consumer. Therefore, whispering your disclosure at 15 dB over the speaker-blasting screaming guitars of your intro doesn’t cut it with the FTC. Endorsers. Podcasters are classified as endorsers as they fall into the legal definitions of “advocates,” “influencers,” or “ambassadors.” Podcasters who receive products at no charge or even at a discount, as well as those who are paid outright are legally endorsers. Endorsement. The FTC assumes that any podcast statement dealing with testimonials or reviews of a product or service fall under the term of endorsement. An extended definition of endorsement The extended definition of what is an endorsement in podcast terms is essentially commercial speech, and the borders between what is free speech and what is commercial speech are extremely tenuous. An individual posting on their Facebook page that they just bought an XYZ-Tech tablet and they absolutely love it is definitely on the side of free speech. However, an individual who is engaged in a profit-making operation through the production of podcasts and who has received either a cash payment or the “gift” of the tablet itself from XYZ-Tech who makes an equivalent statement falls on the side of commercial speech. Could a consumer be reasonably deceived? There is a very fine legalistic distinction in what effectively constitutes an endorsement as the FTC does not necessarily consider endorsements as being specific to their content. Therefore the Commission does not consider a disclaimer statement by the podcaster that “the content of this podcast is not intended to be a review or testimonial” as valid in any way. The FTC determines whether or not an endorsement was actually included in your podcast according to the actual content message which is received by the consumer. If the Commission believes that a consumer could reasonably be deceived by a podcast’s content into believing it was an “honest and uncompensated” review when indeed valuable compensation did exchange hands favoring the podcaster, then the law has been violated. You don’t have to be an infomercial pitchman like Kevin Trudeau to face 10 year jail terms as the FTC considers podcasts equivalent to TV broadcasts, so obey the laws! Please enable JavaScript Powered by Benchmark Email

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Too Busy for Email Marketing? Now We Do It For You.

Beyond • August 25, 2010

We live in a busy world. In the hustle and bustle of it all, people don\'t always have the time to do things that they know are important, in both their personal lives and in business. It\'s the reason quality restaurants and fast food places are so popular: It\'s great to have someone else do the work for you. Then there are some things you just need to do yourself. Nobody is getting healthy by watching someone else exercise for them. And up until now, email marketing has been like that too. Even with a service as great and easy like Benchmark Email, you still have to get in there and do it. Here at Benchmark Email, we understand you don\'t always have time to do everything yourself. That\'s why we are proud to introduce our new and exciting service: We Do It For You. Our email marketing experts will do all the email marketing steps for you. With an email concierge team at your disposal, you can have all the benefits of email marketing without the worry. Just like the Showtime Rotisserie, you can set it and forget it. Just send us what you want to say in a doc, pages or text file and send it to us along with any pictures or logos you want in your campaign. We\'ll do the rest! At only an additional $149.95 per month, Benchmark Email\'s We Do It For You email marketing service is a no-brainer for people who are really busy. You get all our standard features, but we actually do the steps for you. This includes up to two email marketing campaigns - from start to finish - each month (additional campaigns can be added for just $35). Plus, you get final say before the emails are sent out. You get a total subscriber management solution. We\'ll upload and even segment your lists for you. Our team will create an online sign-up form that automatically builds your subscriber list for you. We\'ll even set up your account with auto-responders so welcome messages will greet all your new subscribers automatically. The service doesn\'t end there. You\'ll have great customer feedback channels when we build customer surveys and polls for you. And because the social space is where it\'s at in 2010, you won\'t be left out. We\'ll publish your newsletter to your Twitter account as well as other social media services. Most importantly, we\'ll make sure you look professional. Your emails will sparkle with images, text and video to enhance the appeal. We\'ll refine one of our award-winning templates to fit your company\'s image for free (there are over 300 to choose from, but we can also design a custom template for 1/2 price - $150). Your email will have a permanent home in the Benchmark Email community, ensuring longevity to your campaigns. The rewards of email marketing cannot be denied. It\'s one of the most cost effect ways to market your company. We understand that running your business is no simple task and that every minute counts. Perhaps you understand the benefits of email marketing, but just don\'t have the time to make it happen. At Benchmark Email, we get that you\'re busy. That\'s why we\'re offering to do it for you. Find out more about Benchmark Email\'s We Do It For You.

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