I heard about the issues surrounding the Nestle Family blogger event yesterday night, and the first thought that went through my mind was responsibility.
I am NOT up on all the companies in the USA’s business practices, ethical standards, marketing campaigns, or boycotts against them. However, as a blogger who others turn to for information, I make it a point to be as informed as I can when writing about a topic. If I were invited by a company to attend their social media event as a blogger, I would be compelled to find out what I could about that company and make sure I could support them in line with my personal beliefs. I don’t understand how any blogger could do any less. (I am NOT pointing a finger at the Nestle Family blogger attendees, but stating a general comment.)
The issues surrounding this event have taught me that as bloggers, we need to be responsible to something greater than just a company’s marketing campaigns. If a blogger does their research and can still support Nestle (for example) then fine- that is their decision, but they should be able to explain why they support a company on the major issues.
In my opinion, if you are attending a conference as a blogger at ANY business, or corporation, you should be informed on their background. Simply saying you weren’t aware that the company did this, or you didn’t know the company had issues against them is not responsible, it is the easy way out, and creates distrust among the blogging community and the readers.
No two people will ever see every issue exactly the same- that is what makes blogging great and builds our community. Thousands of thousands of people turn to our blogs every day for correct, accurate, and trustworthy information. We have an obligation and a responsiblity to ourselves and to our readers to be honest, and to do our due diligence not only on the topics we write about, but also with the companies we choose to align ourselves and associate with.
The Nestle issue has shown me that to do any less than this is not acceptable to me as blogger. One reason blogs are so successful is because so many people don’t trust companies and traditional advertising anymore. People turn to blogs for honest and trust-worthy information. If we allow ourselves to be “bought” by any and every company that comes a-callin’ should we be surprised when our collective reputation as a source of unbiased, accurate, and honest information is tarnished and eventually weakened?
In the case with the Nestle incident, our opinions, beliefs, and reputations as bloggers are worth more than a few hosted blogging events by a corporation that has been one of the most boycotted companies for questionable ethical business practices worldwide since the 1970’s.
The handwriting is on the wall- what the blogging community chooses to learn from the Nestle incident is up to us.
I posted this quote on Twitter last night after reading up on the Nestle issue, and I think it sums it all up:
“The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.”- Confucius