This is a story about vision, values, and the power of the {grow} community. I hope this inspires you as much as it did me …
Last week I wrote an article about being approached to take on ghost-blogging assignments and asked for your help. The result was an eruption of insight, support and respectful, intelligent debate. I wasn’t the only one inspired by the discussion. Anne Giles Clelland President and CEO, Handshake Media, Inc., wrote:
After studying your post and the thoughtful, informed comments that followed, I created a “Social Media Authenticity Policy” for my company and its sites. I even had it reviewed by legal counsel. I found the process challenging, the idea of taking a stand both risky and necessary, and clicking “post” ultimately mission-fortifying. I posted about the policy’s creation, then linked to the policy for all to see. Your point, “If this debate is not relevant to you right now, it will be in the near future as the demand for content explodes,” inspired me to choose to make it relevant right now. Thank you for inspiring me to equate online authenticity with the integrity of my company.

I asked Anne if I might share this policy with {grow} readers and she agreed. Here it is: LINK.

What stirs me is that Anne used our community’s input to take a stand and get in front of possible U.S. Federal Trade Commission guidelines on disclosure of sponsored content. In fact, she told me it is her objective to EXCEED the proposed standards.

As far as I know, this is the first published, legally-validated “authenticity policy.” This is not just good legal policy, it’s good business policy. Up until now the social media nation has been trying to cover its butt with clunky lists of disclosures and half-hearted attempts at codifying honesty. I’m encouraged that Anne has stepped up with an iron-clad commitment and founded a company based on integrity.
And nobody paid me to say so.
Illustration: Photo I took near Laguna Beach, CA
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