I’ve been sick for probably two weeks now (a month if you ask my husband who also says that days just run together when he has to work long weeks and overtime) but while I was lying in bed this weekend I watched many blogging friends on a press junket to cover KFC’s new kids’ meals.
*Disclosure no idea when the last time my family had KFC but I did get a taste for chicken tenders before I got pneumonia and had some at work one day.*
It was nice to see my peers, bloggers I know, respect, and have met, get to attend a cool (for the kids) event and hear what’s going on in the world of Fast Food Chicken.
What was not nice was watching other bloggers, ones I respected and looked up to for their insight and experience (and also know and have met) takeover the hashtag being used (search #kfckidsmeals on Twitter) as a means to berate and belittle their peers who were in attendance at this press event. Of course this turned the event into a twitter backlash.
The hijacking was done in attempt to get the other bloggers to call out KFC for the use of MSG and GMOs in their fast foods. It was done as a means (according to the bloggers doing the hijacking), as a way to “educate” the masses about all of the unhealthy things in KFC’s menu including the kids’ foods.
What I saw, as did other bloggers, was an unprofessional takeover of an event they weren’t at and using the bloggers’ kids as a way to guilt them for their choice in attending the event and bringing their kids along.
I am all for speaking out on something you’re passionate about. I’m passionate about organ donation, and removing sexualized advertising from the media as it pertains to kids. What I’m not for is the way the KFC event unfolded on Twitter (and continues to happen, even now). I feel that there is a right and wrong time to spread your message about something you’re passionate about. I also feel there is a right and wrong way. To me, this was just completely wrong all around.
Using children is deplorable
My biggest problem is the way many of the anti KFC bloggers used the other bloggers’ children as a means to make them feel guilty for being at this event and *GASP* bring your child and feed them the toxic fast food. However, what they were doing to the bloggers on Twitter was no better. In fact it was worse.
As a community that prides itself on giving every parent the right to parent the way they want, (breastfeed, bottle feed, formula feed, baby wear, cry it out, vaccinate, don’t vaccinate, spoil the rod, spare the rod… you get the picture) they really were calling into question the bloggers’ parenting abilities and their ability to make good choices for their children. I don’t get all breast feeding Nazi on those that choose to formula feed or call into question if they are inherently making their child unhealthy (and more likely to be overweight…) simply for the fact that it’s not my place to tell someone how to parent, what to do, or how to do it (unless of course you straight up ask me and then I’ll tell you but in a “this worked for me” kind of way).
I will be honest, the moment I saw tweets like “the grilled chicken still contains MSG which can cause neurological issues in kids.” And “ask them why #kfckidsmeals are full of sugars, chemicals and transfats. @blogger you wouldn’t really let your kids eat that.” And “If your vegetables come from a can you might as well give ur kids French fries”, I knew we as a community had crossed a line.
Had I been there, I would certainly have felt attacked and made to feel less of as a parent. Aren’t we beyond doing that to one another yet? It saddens me that anyone thinks that it’s okay to do this to their peers in the name of educating and informing. There were more tweets, a lot more. If you search the hashtag you’ll find them.
The anti KFC bloggers took the event bloggers’ non-responses to their tweets as being scared. I don’t see it that way; I see it as they were remaining professional both in front of the brand and in front of their kids (plus we don’t know the conversations or questions that were being asked at the event). How’s that for being bad parents? Because the first thing I want to do when I attend an event with my kid and people attack the event I’m at is lose my shit, make an ass of myself, embarrass my kids and mortify the rest of the bloggers, PR people, and the kids that are in attendance. (sarcasm)
Embarassment and shame by association
It actually shames me to say that the community (or blogger brand) that started the commotion on Twitter is a blogger network that I’m a part of. As a part of this blogger network I get opportunities emailed to me to work with brands in a sponsored or compensated (in one way or another) capacity.
*More Disclosure: I’ve never taken an opportunity with this blogger network*
I honestly have no ill will against the blogger(s) behind the network because I do feel that they meant well. I wish them well in their cause because what we eat is important to me. However, I don’t want my name associated with the network any longer. I feel extremely embarrassed and ashamed to be a part of a network that would choose to educate the twitter and online community the way that they did. I can assure you that if another blogger or group of bloggers were to come in and attack an event that they were at, or had organized, they would be up in arms over it.
I’ve opted to leave this blogger network through a request to have my account deleted. Honestly, I can embarrass myself on my own. I’ve done it before and with great success! I don’t feel the need to be a part of something that tries to smooth over their peers with tweets about how much they “love you” but… and they “adore you” but…. (again search the hashtag #kfckidsmeals) and in the next breath call question to my parenting as well as my choice to work with who I want to work with.
Why don’t you just say “Bless your heart” in the true passive aggressive nature that those “love yous” were intended and call it a day? Because that’s really what was being done – placating the ones in attendance with the notion that they are loved, that it wasn’t personal and that they should just “duck.” Yes, that’s exactly how you tell your peers you really care and support them (insert sarcasm here.)
It is absolutely one thing to be passionate about something and use your influence for good to raise awareness but I saw very little good come out of this and claiming that you love the bloggers involved in the event and tell them that it’s not personal is disingenuous. Because at the end of the day, it is personal to you. Your cause is personal otherwise you wouldn’t care so much about it would you? I know I feel that way about organ donation – it’s a personal cause to me because it affects me and those I love. (By the way, Zoe is doing great!)
Shame and embarrassment aside
In my job as a social media manager, I am asked every year to gather a group of bloggers for my company’s annual blogger event. I painstakingly go over their Twitter accounts, their blogs, their posts, and other social networks that are public and figure out who would be the best to come to our event. Who might care the most, who might be the most receptive to our event, who attends local events, and yes, who will be the least likely to turn on us. I do this for other clients too whom I work locally with as well as other PR people whom I may not be a fit for (but I know someone who is). I put them in touch with bloggers that I think are going to be receptive and open. I don’t send them someone who turns on others, or otherwise shows unprofessionalism in the social media space which was the great point that Stephanie Schwab made in her article “Don’t Bite the Brand that Feeds You.”
In it Stephanie says, “…And if you keep bashing brands you don’t like, even the brands you do like won’t want to work with you – the risk will be too great that you could turn and bash them.” She is absolutely right. I’ve done my share of brand bashing (waves to Barnes and Noble) and in some cases I don’t feel bad about it. In other cases, I’m sure it’s hurt me and that’s something I have to deal with as a blogger.
It’s called brand accountability. Ultimately you are responsible for what you put out there both as a blogger and as a brand (because as a blogger, you are a brand). If you have your own network of bloggers, then I’d think you’d hold your brand to an even higher accountability. You may think that if a brand snubs you that it’s probably a brand you didn’t want to work with (nor ever would) But consider this: maybe one day that PR person or agency will represent a brand you do want to work with; guess who they won’t call for their press junket. You never know, KFC’s PR agency may work with a company you would give your left eye to work with but I guarantee they won’t call you now. That goes for the brands you’re bashing. PR people move on and agencies serve more than one client.
I may not be the most sought after blogger in the business, my credit list is short, and maybe this is the pneumonia, fever, and kick ass antibiotics talking, but I do know this; I can do so much more with my voice than use it to cut others down just for the sake of my cause and I can do it in a way that won’t hurt myself, my brand, or shame my community and network.
If we continue to tell bloggers how powerful our voices are and how much influence we have, why are we resorting to the playground antics of children in order to get ourselves heard?
I mean, isn’t that what our blogs are here for in the first place?