Social Media and the #IranElection

In a world where our nightly news gives us stories about the love affairs of Jon and Kate and the trivial goings on of Heidi and Spencer it was hardly shocking that when news of protests came out of Iran main stream media was not leading the story. The protests, based on the controversial election results, came through the blogosphere via social media, and only now, days later, main stream media is trying to catch up on news that has become common knowledge to those who actively utilize social media.

Twitter has become the main source of information where a handful of trusted people are tweeting out of Iran, and at a high risk to their personal safety. The tweets are carrying messages about what is happening on the streets, warning people of dangers and countering the messages being put out by the state run media. Even more impactful are the images and videos being captured on cell phones and uploaded to photo sharing sites and youtube. The images are sometimes graphic and show a firsthand look at an uprising in the making. These images are not the ones that are typically screened and edited before making their way to the nightly news here in the US.

Another site, not really a social media site, is news aggregator Fark. This site has been an incredible source of information and conversation about what is happening real time, specifically from a regular poster that posts under the name Tatsuma.

What we are witnessing is not only a potential revolution in Iran, it is a revolution on how we consume news and information. Personally, as someone who is a consumer of social media I appreciate being one of the first in the know - however, as someone who frequents social media I know how fast misinformation can spread. This is a time where the world is starving for information from trusted sources, has this "revolution" shown us the irrelevance of traditional media? I hope not.


“Do you want to have access to baby food anymore?” - The Strange Battle Over BPA

With the recent news that members of the California Senate narrowly approved a proposal that would prohibit the use of a controversial toxic plastic additive from baby bottles, the issue over bisphenol A (BPA) has been getting a lot of attention. So much attention that according to scienceblogs.com a BPA Joint Trade Association Meeting on Communications Strategy was held on May 28 with the goal of developing a potential communications/media strategy around BPA.

Now, as someone who knows a little about marketing, I understand crisis communications planning and about developing PR strategy. But there is something to be said about not leaking your minutes from your meeting (or else you might need a crisis committee meeting on how to handle crisis committee meetings.)

Why do I say this?

Well, what is really interesting about this report is some of the specific tactics mentioned including this line that appears on it, "Attendees suggested using fear tactics (e.g. “Do you want to have access to baby food anymore?”) Which, to be honest, I am not completely sure how this tactic and this comment go together, unless they are talking about the BPA that is in formula containers.

Or there is this line in the report "The committee doubts social media outlets, such as Facebook or Twitter, will work for positive BPA outreach. The committee wants to focus on quality instead of quantity in disseminating messages (e.g. a young kid or pregnant mother providing a positive quote about BPA, a testimonial from an outside expert, providing positive video, advice from third party experts, and relevant messaging on the GMA website). "

Is this what it all comes down to now? Fear tactics and a young kid or pregnant spokesperson giving positive quotes about potential toxins? .... Seriously? Even though the FDA says BPA is safe at currently set levels there are scientists that accuse the FDA of using incomplete and unreliable data.

While I really would like the FDA to do as complete an analysis as possible, I am more concerned that there are group meetings being held where ideas like these are being developed, as opposed to facing the fact that companies may be selling a product that is harmful. It kind of reminds me of the current anti-smoking ads where they read old internal big tobacco documents. This will be an interesting story to keep an eye on to see what actually does come of these meetings and what tactics do make it to the public.


Toxic Baby? How safe are the products you use on your child?

As a parent with a baby on the way I constantly ask myself if I am doing everything to ensure the safety of my family. I don't believe in putting my family in a bubble, my son needs to get bumps and scrapes - he needs to be a boy. But there are issues that should concern any parent, things you take for granted that are safe because you have never been led to believe otherwise. 

Something that recently caught my interest was a report put out by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics - now, to be honest I don't often read up on cosmetics but this report definitely struck a cord. The March 2009 Report, No More Toxic Tub, found that dozens of children's bath products are contaminated with formaldehyde and 1,4 dioxane (chemicals found to cause cancer.) It wasn't just one or two small lesser known products, the CSC tested 48 products and had some pretty startling results.

61% of the products tested contained both of these chemicals, 82%  contained formaldehyde at levels ranging from 54 to 610 parts per million (ppm) and  67 percent contained 1,4-dioxane at levels ranging from 0.27 to 35 ppm. I will be honest, I am by no means a chemist, but I have to ask, any exposure that is repeatedly administered over a long period via multiple products can't be a good thing, can it? Especially if it can be avoided. And when China pulls your product off the shelves out of concern, well that is saying something (note, they did lift the suspension of the products.)

In looking at the CSC website I found a very cool link to Skin Deep, a database that ranks the safety of products including multiple baby products. The database bills itself as "filling in where companies and the government leave off: companies are allowed to use almost any ingredient they wish, and our government doesn't require companies to test products for safety before they're sold. EWG's scientists built Skin Deep to be a one-of-a-kind resource, integrating our in-house collection of personal care product ingredient listings with more than 50 toxicity and regulatory databases." It is an interesting site that I recommend at least taking a look at.

Like I said earlier, I know as a parent I can't completely take risk out of the equation, but I can take the formaldehyde out of my child's bath.

It's Not About Marketing

When I started this blog, my goal was to share marketing insights I had gained over the years – it was something I know well and can speak clearly about, but a post a few months back really got me thinking about the value I can provide in the wide world of noise (the internet for short.) As marketing has been a big part of me for the last 15 years, it is only a part.

Who I am as a person is obviously much more than that, and this is why when I broke from talking about marketing to issues of more personal significance I began rethinking. Ever sense I can remember I have always had a passion about improving the world in my own little way. Taking care of the environment has always been a big part of that, as I have aged I have not changed my view, but rather lessened my intensity on how I can make an impact.

As a parent with a new child on the way I think it is time to rekindle the flame. The world we live in has always been hectic, the fight for survival has always been there – but in a time when we are all more enlightened isn’t it time to stop making excuses and start working to make a difference?

From carbon emissions, the melting of polar icecaps, the increasing level of trash in landfills our years of excess have come at a cost that we are placing on future generations. In the instant gratification world we worry about what is in front of our nose when the real danger is sitting around the corner. It would be hypocritical of me to sit here and think I have not been part of the problem. For years I made choices based on convenience as opposed to what might be best for the world (Seriously, I love Fiji water, but in the end it is just water and I put a lot of plastic in landfills when I could have easily gone to the tap.)

So now my focus is on where in my soul I know it should be – sure I might sneak a little marketing babble in here or there, but in the end my blog is going to focus more on the social issues that matter to me. You will still get the snark, but there might be a little more vinegar too.

My challenge to you who read this is to do everything you can to educate yourself on the impact you have on the world and see if there aren't a few changes you can make. Also, if you have a reason to refute what I post, please do - in the end it is all about education and none of us is ever done learning.