I don’t often write about blogging, preferring instead to blog, but this week has seen a shift for me. When you have been blogging for a while, as I have, your inbox fills with the flotsam and jetsam of the corporate PR world and the tempting possibility of making money from blogging becomes a reality. Some of the approaches are interesting, most are not and some look too good to be true.
It is this last bracket which has caused me angst. Back in January I turned down a large (to me) sum of money to take part in a campaign run by Actimel/Danone, this week I am walking away from an association with CBias/SocialFabric. Both decisions have been made because my conscience bellowed loudly in my ear as it is wont to do.
When I signed up for CBias/SocialFabric as it started its foray into the UK blogging scene I had no idea how close its connections with Nestlé were. I signed up under the proviso that I would not be working for any companies which didn’t fit my blog and its ethos and I specifically mentioned Nestlé in that email. However, it has become apparent this week that CBias/SocialFabric and Nestlé are very cosy bedfellows indeed and I will not be hopping on in there with them!
Nestlé is my line in the sand, a line I will not cross. I have boycotted their products for about 25 years – which isn’t easy as they are pretty insidious, popping up where you least expect them!
I boycott them because, in spite of years of protest and appeals to their better nature, they are still aggressively marketing baby milk in countries where the water to mix with that milk is not clean and where families are spending more on this product than they are in rent. I took part in the recent Save the Children campaign where, once again, Nestlé and Danone were presented with information clearly outlining the impact their actions have on communities and families in the developing world.
Danone appeared to listen and:
‘announced plans to conduct regular and independent audits of their operations to ensure they align with the international code on the marketing of breast milk substitutes. They will publish the first results of these audits on their website in the coming weeks.’ (Source)
Nestlé, however did not:
When we asked Nestlé about their plans to respond to our research and report, they reiterated their existing policies. However, they did commit to reading our research in depth and announcing their response in the coming months. (Source)
They are going to read the research. Jolly good. I shan’t hold my breath.
What Brie O’Keefe doesn’t say in her post is that Nestlé CEO, Paul Bulcke, dismissed the [Save the Children] email campaign by saying the messages were identical (Source)
To arrogantly dismiss over 4000 emails, hundreds of Facebook comments from customers and members of the public about the Save the Children report and a 12,000 signature petition seems typical of a company whose former CEO Peter Brabeck thinks water should be privatised and a company which is currently trying to patent the medicinal properties of fennel.
This is why I cannot work with CBias and Social Fabric, I cannot be a part of an orgainisation which actively promotes a company which seems to have no moral compass and which is happy to make money while putting children’s lives at risk. If you want to see how much work CBias have done with Nestlé in the US look here.
Now, I know a Nestlé boycott is not for all of you, I am not trying to tell anyone what to do that’s not my style. I shan’t stop speaking to you if you eat a Kit Kat anymore than I would if you chose the beef off the menu when we were out for a meal together. This post is about me and my line in the sand and I would love your feedback in the comments at the end.
So, what have I learned from all this? I have learned to do my research better before jumping on the latest Big Thing, I have learned that if things look too good to be true they probably are and I have learned that I have the guts to admit when I’m wrong and to walk away.
I have also made a Big Decision prompted by feedback from Kat and nurtured in conversation over coffee with Gemma. It was Kat who first pointed out to me the Nestle/CBias connection and who gently pushed me in the direction my little boat has always wanted to sail and it was Gemma who filled my sails with confidence. Watch this space!
This is me…ploughing my own furrow (it really is me!)
So – tell me – are personal ethics and a moral code important in blogging and how on earth do we tiptoe through the minefield of PR approaches and temptations without blowing ourselves up?
You might like to read Aly’s post about bloggers, brands and ethics which touches on similar issues
I am, frankly, stunned to have been shortlisted in three categories of the Brilliance in Blogging Awards – Commentary Inspire and Outstanding! You can vote for me here but only until May 12th – so hurry up! Thank you!