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Letters to Publicists

A Very Real Question For Publicists And For Nestle

It’s not a secret, I have an uneasy relationship with publicists. Oh, except one. Stephanie. I have a terrible relationship with food manufacturers, I really wish y’all would too. Food growers, particularly organic ones, they’re kinda hawt, and we have a good relationship… rumor has it we might kiss one day.

On the 5th I briefly noted that Nestle is in search of a public relations firm who can help them with the most recent backlash regarding their ill fated Mommy Hawking event.  Stephanie addressed my disdain with a really thoughtful comment.

Hiring a PR firm is exactly what they should do–assuming their intent is not to dissemble and spin but to get some counsel on how to repair their reputation through honest bridge-building with their consumers, critics and any other stakeholders important to them.

Oh really? I never really thought of it that way. My take was, and we will see if it still is, that Nestle needs a business plan and not a public relations plan. To be fair, I’m a Mommy Blogger so my exposure to the world of Public Relations comes in the form of emails that start with, “Dear Mommy Blogger.” and ends with “I’d like to send you a sample to review.” Oh, I’m also invited out a lot. You don’t’ see a lot of reviews here, and you don’t see a lot of sponsored events. I’m not as PR friendly as some, so perhaps that’s why I’m left not understand why anyone would go to Nestle Headquarters.

Here’s the event. I know it looked like fun, candy is fun, but hard questions were certainly not asked.

More check-ins at Nestle Headquarters
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Nestle isn’t good in my community. It’s substandard food, made with cheap ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated gloop. Were it not for their foray into social media I’d never mention them, they’d be off my radar as just one more junk food brand that doesn’t belong in my house. I don’t consider myself part of their formal boycott, because even if Nestle complied with the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes they still don’t have a product that appeals to me. If predictions are based on history, it’s unlikely that Nestle will comply any time soon.

With all that being said Nestle jumped into the virtual community of Mommy Hawking, and, well, here we are.

I have a few questions I’d like answered. I’d love to hear from publicists about this. I’m trying to understand how all of this matters. I know as a Mom I chose my brands with great care. I try to not bring things into my home that will harm my children. I don’t understand Public Relations, and I think this is a great moment for us all to learn something. Most of us bloggers only know Public Relations through press releases, spin and parties. What else is there?

If you’re a publicist would you mind answering any or all of these questions for us?

1. Do publicists help businesses shape a businesses marketing practices or simply react to what is out there?
2. When there is a thirty year boycott how does a PR firm address it?
3. Should a thirty year boycott even be addressed? Obviously Nestle makes plenty of money.
4. Is there ever a client you simply do not want?

I’m going to offer something unusual here. If you are a publicist, you may answer these questions in the comments and remain anonymous. Make up an email address, make up a name, or just write “publicist trying to keep my job” I don’t care. I moderate the first few comments anyone leaves here, and I’ll send through anonymous comments on just this one post.

I really do want to hear from you.