Censorship or Compliance? | How to Convey Your Communications Expectations

“Per the Policies and Procedures you cannot have any company names, logos, trademarks or images on another website. Please either take down every referrence of [company name] or take the site down completely. If you have further questions please reply to this email.”

Checked my inbox this morning to find this message from a company asking me to delete all references to their name on my site, my blog and pretty much any other place online you can think of. It’s taken me five hours to clean up and I’m looking at another three or four to scour their name out of my existence. Thinking positively, it’s a swift incentive to refresh and update everything from LinkedIn to my home page.

Checking around online, it looks like independent sites related to the product have vanished. What bugs me is . . . if I wasn’t an affiliate I could write anything I want. And that’s enough to make me seriously consider terminating the relationship.

At first I felt guilty, but why should I? All of the posts promoted the product, encouraged people to try it or reported on results. My voice was a good one, but it’s silenced – on that topic. Maybe it’s for the best. I need to narrow and tighten my focus here. If you see any posts with error messages, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

In an effort to advance communications, here are a few recommendations for how to manage compliance with affiliate communications:

– clearly communicate marketing usage guidelines in writing at the first point of contact

– ask for an acknowledgement and agreement to terms and conditions before beginning a relationship

– give examples of what is and what is not acceptable

– supply high-quality graphics and communications that are so great they won’t want to or have to produce anything else

– monitor the blogsphere for mentions at Technorati and comment, preferably via email directly to the blogger, when lines get crossed

– understand that you can’t control all communications, but you can guide it with examples, case studies and a forum to receive questions and answers

– be forgiving if someone unintentionally strays outside of the boundaries

– look for inspiration, testimonials and fresh insights from the renegades

– appreciate new voices and invite them in to expand your reach

– know the difference between a blog and a website – a few well-placed bloggers can do wonders to ramp up your online presence when they promote your product

– allow some room for creative expression with a fill-in-the-blanks template

– give a digital stamp of approval for sites that promote properly

Offer affiliate products? Although you don’t want to have approve every affiliate’s email, site, post or press release about your product, a few guidelines will ensure consistent communications and better relationships for everyone.

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