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Commercial endorsement policy

Originally Published:
Feb 2017

This policy outlines the appropriate procedures for conducting commercial endorsements to ensure that legal and ethical guidelines are properly followed and that the company and its staff are safeguarded.

From the policy:

Summary
Commercial endorsements involve requests to company staff or officials from third party vendors or other businesses to promote or vouch for their products or services. For example, a technology vendor might request a statement or interview with the CIO approving its anti-malware product and recommending it for use. A commercial endorsement could involve something as simple as providing a reference for a prospective buyer to attest that the product does what it is supposed to do, or that the vendor is providing an honest and fair price and lives up to its commitments.

At first glance, the concept of a commercial endorsement sounds simple—but there can be pitfalls. Providing an endorsement to a product later found to contain fatal flaws that put businesses at risk can harm company reputation. Conflicts of interest may arise, such as if an employee provides a commercial endorsement for an organization that is revealed to be their spouse’s employer. Other legal factors can play a role in producing negative outcomes for poorly planned or executed commercial endorsements.

Scope
All employees, including full-time and part-time staff, contract workers, consultants, interns, and temporary workers are covered by this policy.

Exceptions
There are no exceptions to this policy except where permitted in writing by the HR department.

Policy details
All endorsements must be approved by HR, marketing, public relations, the legal department, or another department that is designated as being responsible for approving such decisions.

If applicable, the legal department should be consulted to ensure that all laws and regulations are appropriately followed. If no legal department exists, consult with an independent attorney. (Consider requesting the vendor to fund this consultation.)

Company employees may not accept money, gifts, discounts, or other incentives to participate in commercial endorsements; these must remain pro bono. Employees must state within the endorsement that they are providing it for no charge and of their own volition.

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