Tag Archive: Whole Foods


The University of Google is where I got my degree from.” – Anti-Vaccine Activist and Blonde Celebrity Jenny McCarthyjenny

“Even for scientists, the scientific method is a hard discipline. Like the rest of us, they’re vulnerable to what they call ‘confirmation bias’ – the tendency to look for and see only evidence that confirms what they already believe.” – Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post, writing for National Geographic

There have been a lot of –isms in global history … most of them were/are not good, even though a few of them are more than okay (e.g., Buddhism).

It seems like there is a relatively new –ism that is building in intensity in the First World: Foodism.

And with Foodism come its adherents/zealots: The Foodinistas.

It’s not hard to find this rapidly replicating species as its high-rent habitat keeps expanding from shade-growing, free-trade coffee with soy stands to gluten-free bakeries to vegan & veggie restaurants to über-expensive, organic Whole Foods.gluten-freefallon

And the frenzy does not stop there. How about the continued ban toward adding natural mineral fluoride in the water of Portland, Oregon? How about those who adamantly refuse to vaccinate their children against whooping-cough, measles and other diseases? And let’s not forget what columnist Charles Krauthammer has labeled, the narcissistic pursuit of the home-birth “experience”?

Like the devotees of other –isms of history, the Foodinistas are almost religious in their devotion to their cause(s), even though they are usually secular in their orientation. They are armed with their increasingly wireless Google, Bing or Yahoo search engines. Literally in nano-seconds with their personal “filter bubbles” they can find what they are looking for and conveniently ignore all the rest.

If you care to spend time with them (if you must), you will find bright, highly educated, well-compensated Foodinistas, inhabiting aware enclaves such as San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma and Alameda Counties (e.g., California examples), who are more than happy to proclaim the overwhelming virtues of their shade grown, gluten-free, pro-GMO labeling, anti-vaccination, pro home-birth, anti-vaccination, veggie/vegan existence.

First-World Starvation?

Foodinistas are hungry; they are always hungry, which means food is always top of mind. Is there any wonder why humor is not in great supply with this crowd? A growling stomach and a good time don’t typically go hand-in-hand.

Even though we live in the richest country on the planet, the one that has more than its fair share of food choices in its supermarkets and restaurants, there are ever-more that Foodinistas will not eat as opposed to what they will actually consume. And as time goes on and more pseudo-science articles are posted online, their acceptable food groups shrink even further as they grow more “mature.”chemicals

Some will chop veggies for two, three, four hours or longer in order to prepare a vegan feast (hold the honey, honey; it belongs to the bees). Guess what? The process is repeated for the next meal and the next and the next and …

In an extreme case, a Foodinista will break the vegan fast for a (gasp!) vegetarian meal on Fridays, only on Fridays. There is no alteration of this pattern permitted. The Swallows of Capistrano wish they could be this predictable.

A gluten-free prince or princess will challenge everything that is being served including white and red wine. What do grapes have to do with the gluten in grains?

And what are some of the places that require labeling of genetically modified foods (GMOs)? How about China, Russia and Vermont? Maybe Vladimir Putin will next annex Ben and Jerry’s?

Is increasingly legal, taxed, regulated medicinal marijuana gluten free? Almost DailyBrett can see the coming Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) roll-out for gluten-free weed.

Pass the coconut oil

“The people who believe that vaccines cause autism, often well-educated and affluent — are undermining ‘herd immunity’ to such diseases as whooping-cough and measles.” — Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post, writing for National Geographic

Is it just Jimmy Fallon, little ole me and a few others who see that this Foodism religion taking on even more Kool-Aid drinking zealots?filterbubble

And what are the consequences of the behavior of Foodinistas? It ranges from forcing even more to listen to one more narcissistic epic tale of triumph over gluten and Porterhouses to the unnecessary spread of measles and other diseases. Have these folks ever weighed the impact of their behavior on their own personal brand and reputation? The most important public relations are personal public relations.

One would think that we have enough to worry about including the record $18 trillion+ and climbing federal deficit, ISIS atrocities, rampant obesity, whether the majority of Millennials will be able to buy a home anytime in their lifetimes, and if way too many Baby Boomers will live years/decades longer than their retirement funds. There are others who are obsessed with food: They live in the Third World.

Almost DailyBrett will humbly argue there are real issues that deserve our attention, not whether a scone is gluten free or not or whether it is safe to engage in have-a-blast vegetarianism on any day other than Friday.

Something tells me that fun and Foodism are two F-bombs that don’t go well together.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2015/03/science-doubters/barnes-photography

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1996-05-27/news/9605270029_1_midwife-first-child-childbirth

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/08/25/why-liberal-americans-are-turning-against-gmo-labeling/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filter_bubble

 

 

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Is Ghost Blogging Kosher?

Is undisclosed ghost blogging ethical even in cases in which the stated executive author concurs with the content and approves the posting of the blog in her or his name?

What’s the problem? Barack Obama doesn’t write his speeches? Everyone knows this.

ghost

More than 70 percent agree that ghost writing an executive blog is no big deal.

And yet there is a sizeable minority with qualms.

Isn’t blogging the development of personal relationships by means of digital two-way symmetrical conversation?

You can ghost write speeches. Ditto for op-eds and commentaries. But can you effectively “outsource” your conversations?

Isn’t undisclosed ghost blogging the antithesis of the public relations industry movement toward “radical transparency?”

Maybe this question isn’t so easy?

Arriving on the University of Oregon campus in fall 2010 after my nearly four-year tenure at Edelman Public Relations, I remember discussing the Edelman/Wal-Mart debacle with School of Journalism and Communication Assistant Professor Tiffany Gallicano.

edelman

The 2006 Wal-Mart/Edelman controversy revolved around the use of non-Wal-Mart employees “Jim and Laura” to blog about the pleasant working conditions at the retail giant. This “astroturfing” deception resulted in banner headlines and embarrassment for both Edelman Public Relations and its client Wal-Mart.

Essentially, Edelman hired “ringers,” one a Washington Post photographer and the other a U.S. Department of Treasury employee, to play for the Wal-Mart management team and everything was fine until they were caught. What made this caper all the more embarrassing is that Edelman participated in the formulation of disclosure standards for the blogging industry Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).

To Richard Edelman’s credit, he visited virtually all Edelman offices to apologize and all Edelman employees were mandated to take training in online disclosure. Richard is a major proponent of “radical transparency” and one can surmise the Wal-Mart experience plays into his evangelizing on this issue.

mackey

Similar headlines and rebukes were directed in 2007 against Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey, who blogged incessantly under the alias “Rahodeb” (an anagram on his wife’s name, Deborah). His posts found a litany of faults with rival Wild Oats, a company that Whole Foods was trying to acquire. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was none-too-pleased.

As Tiffany and I discussed the Edelman/Wal-Mart and Whole Foods cases, we realized that while the issue of undisclosed ghost blogging was not new, it was far from settled. The question: Is there a consensus among the public relations community about the ethics of this issue? We quickly became indebted to Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) for allowing us to circulate a quantitative survey of its membership on this subject. Nearly 300 (agency, corporate, public sector and NGO) practitioners responded.

PRSA has adopted an ethics code that all of its members should be “honest and accurate in all communications” and to “avoid deceptive practices.” The trade organization makes no distinction between communications that are traditional in nature, such as newspapers, or digital, such as blogging and podcasting.

Soon it was time to analyze the results and we were glad to have the assistance of quantitative Wunderkind and Ph.D candidate, Toby Hopp, to assist us. The study was declared valid, but the results were not clean-cut. This point was magnified when Tiffany and yours truly presented our results at the International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC) in Miami in spring of 2012.

We made several presentations, each starting first with the professorial types nodding their heads, but quickly arguing with each other. Tastes great! Less filling! No Disclosure! Disclosure? It was a sight to behold.

First, the easy part. Is it okay for an organization to list executives as blog authors even though they were written by others (e.g., PR types) as long as the ideas come from the listed executives and they approve the message: 71.1 percent, agreed; 20.7 percent disagreed.

Seems easy.

Next we asked is it okay for an organization to NOT disclose a PR agency’s assistance in writing blog posts under a client’s name? This is where the Radical Transparency movement first exhibited its influence: 44.7 percent concurred; 37.9 percent did not. Interesting.

The third question: “As a standard practice any ghostwriting of employer executive or client executive blogs should be publicly disclosed?” 37.1 percent, affirmative; 40.9 percent, negative. This was getting too close for comfort.

When it comes to staffers writing executive responses to reader comments (provided the ideas come from the executive and she or he gives approval), 56.3 percent believed this practice was acceptable, while 35.4 percent disagreed.

Finally, there is the question of a PR staffer writing an executive’s comment on subjects posted on some other blog, even with the ideas coming from that exec and she or he giving approval. The results revealed a reversal in sentiments: 42.6 percent approved; 44.0 percent disapproved.

We were pleased to receive the Jackson-Sharpe Award from the IPRRC in March 2012, and our research was published earlier this month by the PRSA’s Public Relations Journal. The Institute for Public Relations has created a Social Science of Social Media Research Center (SSSMRC). Our study will be available there as well.

Looking back at our research, a strong majority of industry practitioners see ghost blogging as essentially the equivalent of ghost writing a speech or op-ed. Everyone knows that Obama tinkers with his speeches, approves them but does not have the time to write them. That is largely true for CEOs as their time is precious.

speech

Isn’t it the job of PR practitioners (e.g., in-house corporate, agency) to assist executives in telling an organization’s story? Sure.

But is a blog the same as a speech or an op-ed/commentary? Speeches are two-way asymmetrical. Blogs are two-way symmetrical. Blogs invite conversation. Blogs benefit from comments.

Can you effectively outsource your digital conversations and still lead torch-light parades behind the banner of Radical Transparency?

The question of undisclosed ghost blogging does not lend itself to easy answers or quick consensus. Let the arguments continue into the night.

http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/PRJournal/

http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/PRJournal/Documents/2013_Gallicano.pdf

http://www.instituteforpr.org/scienceofsocialmedia/

http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2006-10-17/wal-mart-vs-dot-the-blogospherebusinessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/12/business/12foods.html?_r=0

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