I don't have to write this. In fact I don't have to mention anything about my recent trip to LA.
Nevertheless, the events of the last three days (search twitter for #nestlefamily) have shaped me as a blogger, consumer and most importantly as a mother so it's crucial for me to document things from my own perspective.
As a blogger, I get dozens upon dozens of PR pitches each day that clog up my inbox and nearly all of them get deleted even before I click to open the body. There are two criterias I have that will determine whether or not I spend a minute of my day reading their pitch. Number one, they must address me by my proper name and show some sign of actually taking the time to look over my blog. Number two, it must come from a company that fits with my lifestyle. For example, I used disposal diapers and therefore would not accept a trip to be part of a focus group for a cloth diaper company. My long time dedicated readers, who forever have a place in my heart, come to hear my real voice and I would never give them less. So when Nestle contacted me inviting me to be a part of a "focus group" of bloggers for their Nestle Family event I said yes after peeking inside the expansive pantry of my suburban abode exposing many of their products. Nestle was/is a part of our everyday lives.
As a consumer, I agreed to take part of the Nestle Family blogger event (Nestle paid for hotel/flight expenses wanting nothing in exchange) knowing very well that some of the company's ethics were questionable therefore I took a pro-active stance and decided this was an ideal opportunity for me to approach the company with questions. Before agreeing to the travel commitment, nervous as this was my first time being approached by a big company, I telephoned a friend whose husband works for the corporation in Cleveland prying her for more information. She calmed my nerves saying that not only was it a legit offer but that the company treated it's staff with the utmost class and surely it would do the same for a handful of parenting bloggers. I. Did. My. Research. I wanted to learn, ask a lot and come back with more information as a concerned consumer who tries hard to stay away from processed foods.
As a mother, I took this trip to demonstrate to my children that their little stay at home mommy with a tiny blog could in fact make a small difference in the world. I wanted to teach them that their lives would not crumble if I took some days off from my duties. I told them that the dot com is interested in knowing what they thought of new products tested by them because their opinions are valuable and influential. I told them that I had questions to ask. I needed to let them know that ordinary people can make extraordinary differences. I know that they are proud of me just as the children of many 50's house wives like "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio" who entered jingles from major corporations bringing home prizes that paid off their hard work.
Only. Times have changed. The passionate hobbyist. The concerned consumer. The talented mother. Can no longer accept a 'free" trip to learn more about a company without a backlash from her own community of mothers in the age of the Internet. Where ethics can be rightfully researched and debated. Which in a perfect Utopian society sounds beautiful except for not-so-much in the modern day of social media where self proclaimed "ists" off all kinds used the words "join us on the bashing" "selling soul to the devil" "racists" "uneducated mothers being used" to describe a harmless focus group gathered to voice opinions at the US headquarters of the world's largest food corporation.
The woman in charge of Juicy Juice cringed when I tweeted that I prefer Mott's For Tots since it was diluted with water but listened to my suggestions. The mother of three, who is incredibly into nutrition, in Nestle baking carefully paused when I asked her if she served frozen Stouffer meals to her family only for her to reply that each year they remove more sodium and never add preservatives and it still beats a fast food option. The educated mother in charge of chocolates willingly allowed me to videotape her answer to the questions my twitter followers had about child slave labors laws in regard to chocolate. The CEO of the company sat three feet before me as we asked questions about advertising formula in third world countries.
I don't have to write this. However, I'm incredibly proud and know that my family is too.
Not many mothers can add "making the world's largest food corporation think during Q and A's" to their resume as a SAHM. In my heart of hearts, I know, that Nestle listened to all of our opinions. I saw before my own eyes a room full of people diligently taking notes. I heard very-important-people thank us for our eye opening input. I witnessed even-more-important-people acknowledge the fact that social media is important. I can not even begin to put in words to describe just how much Nestle cared about everything.
Today as a consumer, blogger and a mother I am very happy knowing that my opinions/suggestions were heard in person. Without a doubt I believe that Nestle listened. I am quite eager to go home in the morning and introduce my family to some awesome new products (I haved packed lots of goodies to share with you too). Tomorrow I will forget the mean spiritied words some of the fellow members of my "community" plastered over the Internet because I know I was part of a good thing.