Best Practices For Reducing Risk in Blogs
Blogs can easily cross the line from “education” to “disease claims”
This year, there have been five warning letters that include claims made in blogs, and the line between what is allowable and what is a claim continues to shrink. #WarningLetterWednesday
It is easy for a well-intentioned content writer to cross the line from education into the disease claim category, which I wrote this post.
I break blogs into two categories. Both are considered marketing and must be compliant, but dividing them into two categories helps clients understand how rigid they want their compliance to be. Ideally, there would be no "educational" or "science" blogs on a commercial website, but few companies follow this path. The life of a consultant is helping companies understand risk while also supporting their real-world, compliant and effective marketing. This is fun!
Informational & Product Blogs
Informational blogs: These are not intended to sell a product but are used to educate about ingredients and science. Crossing the line from informational into a product blog is very easy, so extreme care should be used. Removing all calls to action, such as linking to a shopping cart, can help lessen the implication that a blog is being used to sell a product. I discussed "educational" blogs and compliance with a top FTC official who said something similar to this. 'Why is a company using blogs on their commercial website if not to sell products.' This is the lens the FTC and FDA look at when reviewing marketing statements. I often use this example when educating about how "informational" blogs can easily cross the line into claims.
Here's a post from last year about this.
I also suggest removing any high-risk "buzzwords" from the blog, including pictures and clinical study URLs. Here is a post and video about finding and placing these high-risk disease words.
Product blogs: These are considered "extensions of a product label" and, therefore, must be ultra compliant. If a company wouldn't write "pain" on the label, this word should not be used in a product blog. The same rules about "buzzwords" apply here.
Here is a video about reducing risks when using blogs.
Here is a detailed post where I discuss blogs and much more! "Warning Letter Review: What Went Wrong & How to Avoid"
Disclaimer: The educational information provided here is for informational purposes only. Contact an attorney for specific legal advice. Rule #1 in compliance is to ensure marketing is truthful and not misleading.