So I decided to add something new to this blog – a regular talk and update about compliance regulations and why they are so important. There are so many things to deal with when it comes to following compliance rules and protocol for the following sectors: supervise
- State Board-compliance
- Review Site-compliance
What I would like to discuss today is the FTC-compliance portion of our services. There are scores of pages to the revised rule – these pages basically address the issue of endorsement – and for someone who eats, breathes, and sleeps the “Internet” like me – the FTC has the biggest impact on blogging. There used to be a time when bloggers would write fantastic reviews about products and get paid for it! While that may continue to go on under the table these days, the FTC took action to limit that sort of bribery and address other areas of endorsements. The FTC’s key revision made under its “Guide Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” insists that if a blogger fails to disclose “paid-for-reviews”, whether it is monetary compensation or free product, the blogger is subject to huge fines and can face up to $11,000 in fees. This new guideline demonstrates the FTC’s aggressive pro-consumer and pro-regulatory philosophy.
The following includes the FTC’s amendment: 16 CFR Part 255
Please note page 12 which is particularly interesting as it relates to reputation management:
“An actual patron of a restaurant, who is neither known to the public nor presented as an expert, is shown seated at the counter. He is asked for his “spontaneous” opinion of a new food product served in the restaurant. Assume, first, that the advertiser had posted a sign on the door of the restaurant informing all who entered that day that patrons would be interviewed by the advertiser as part of its TV promotion of its new soy protein “steak.” This notification would materially affect the weight or credibility of the patron’s endorsement, and, therefore, viewers of the advertisement should be clearly and conspicuously informed of the circumstances under which the endorsement was obtained.
Assume, in the alternative, that the advertiser had not posted a sign on the door of the restaurant, but had informed all interviewed customers of the “hidden camera” only after interviews were completed and the customers had no reason to know or believe that their response was being recorded for use in an advertisement. Even if patrons were also told that they would be paid for allowing the use of their opinions in advertising, these facts need not be disclosed.”
So how does this relate to Aesthetic Reviews reputation management program and the overall ratings and reviews practice oh a physician and/or surgeon?
Neither you, nor we, nor anyone for that matter can pay a patient to give a positive review – period! However, it happens, but please be aware that this sort of enticement is illegal. Businesses are continuing to do all sorts of ‘gray and shady things’ in attempt to get around this regulation. I know because I hear stores all the time. I can’t help but find some of this somewhat intriguing. The laws aren’t necessarily etched out in stone and/or 100% clear. This is an area that so new, fast, and ever-changing, that there’s really nothing governing what’s happening on a day-to-day basis.