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Wednesday, February 07, 2007Let two things never be discounted again.
1.) The power of social media (and lactating women).
2.) The fact that there ARE big businesses out there that can and will do the right thing.
(Just getting here? Learn about the National Pork Board lawsuit.)
It's over. I received two letters over the weekend. The first was from National Pork Board CEO Steve Murphy apologizing for the offensive comments leveled at The Lactivist in the original C&D letter. (Read the full text of Mr. Murphy's letter) The second was a letter to Brian Moore, the attorney representing me, from Faegre & Benson's Christopher Beall. (Download the full letter as a PDF.)
It stated, in part:
Because of federal limitations on the expenditure of "Pork Checkoff" funds, National Pork Board is unable to make charitable contributions to any organization, including a non-profit organization such as Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio.
Despite this restriction . . . National Pork Board intends to conduct a voluntary fundraising campaign among its staff and executives to gather donations for Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio. . . . based on the support we have already seen among employees at National Pork Board - that this campaign will result in a generous contribution to Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio.
Having just spoken to the Georgia Morrow, Director of the Mother's Milk Bank, I can share that the funds raised by the members of the National Pork Board (along with the $1000 raised during the Lactivist fundraiser) will go toward the purchase of desperately needed refrigeration units that the milk bank had been struggling to purchase.
I want to make it clear to my readers that based off of our contact with the staff at the National Pork Board it is quite clear to me that they were extremely upset that anyone would feel they were not supportive of nursing mothers. The fact that the staff has dug into their own pockets in order to make a contribution strikes me as extremely generous and I think that they should be applauded for their response to this issue.
Now, this is where YOU come in once again.
It's quite clear that bad news travels fast. The question is, will good news travel as well?
We all know how rare it is these days for a big corporation to admit that they're wrong. Rarer yet, is the group of executives that are willing to dig into their own pockets to make a donation to right a wrong. (So much easier to dip into the corporate coffers and to write it off as a business expense.) If we're going to lambaste the companies that behave poorly, we must celebrate the companies that do the right thing.
So my request is this... Help me spread the word about a company that not only admitted their mistake, but that quickly worked to come together in an act of good will that will benefit the countless babies and families that benefit from the work of the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio. Take a moment and write a letter of thanks to the same email addresses that you fired off your letter of fury to. Take a simple moment to say "thanks."
When big business sees the support that flows their way when they do the right thing, more businesses will realize the value of doing the right thing.
Now anyone that knows me (or reads this blog) can likely imagine how hard it was for me to keep from commenting on this whole debacle as word was flying around the Internet. Heck, the post titles alone were enough to make me want to speak up. (My personal favorite was SE Roundtable's "Search Engine Industry Blogger, Jennifer Laycock, Ordered to Remove Her Shirt."
Add in the fact that social media and the blog world act much like that old fashioned game of telephone (you know, where you whisper in someone's ear and hear how the story changes?) and it's been hard to hold my tongue. So if you'll now humor me, I'd like to add a few thoughts of my own.
First, while I truly appreciate the passion with which readers have responded and the myriad bloggers and forum members that spread the word about this story, I'd specifically like to thank the posters that kept level heads while offering up sage words of advice and insight. Bloggers like Ian McAnerin and the woman behind Kerflop did an excellent job of looking beyond the concept of "evil pork" to examine the issue in a level-headed manner.
There's nothing wrong with protecting your trademark folks. Many of the posts that I read stated that the Pork Board had no business bugging me because I'm just a poor, innocent, breastfeeding promoting mom. (Some went so far in deifying me that I half expected Emmitt to walk on water in the bath tub.) I'll say it again...there is NOTHING wrong with a big business protecting their trademark. My argument was that they should do it by hiring a lawyer that won't make asinine assumptions about the site in question and that they could do it a little more politely.
Next, I want to clear up a few items that seem to have been "lost in translation" (please don't sue me Universal Studios...).
1.) Yes I am a work at home mom, and yes this is a hobby site. That said, I also work at home doing a "real" job, which just happens to be teaching small business owners how to market themselves online. In fact, I actually wrote a pretty popular free e-book about the very process of building this business.
2.) Yes, I donate funds from this site to the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio, but not ALL of them. I have held two fund raisers in the last year. I also donate 10% of all profits when I'm not holding fund raisers. All said and done, this site has raised $2000 for the milk bank and about $4000 for my children's college fund.
3.) Yes, I made just $8 profit off the shirt, but it was from two shirt sales, not one.
4.) I never had any issue with the fact that I received a C&D for alleged trademark infringement. I disagreed with them, but I understand why they sent it. My issue was with both the tone of the letter and the implication that I seemed to be peddling fetish products.
5.) No, you may not now buy a shirt from me that reads "The Other White Milk." I don't have them stockpiled somewhere, I'm not holding out on you and I DID agree not to sell them anymore. That said, you can now buy a National Pork Board approved "breast. the original white milk" shirt from me.
I'd like to again thank Amy Hooker of Maven Communications, Brian Moore of Brian J Moore and Associates for their assistance. I'd also like to thank my hosting company, Mor Designs who have generously (read: for free) increased my bandwidth several times over to keep the site from crashing under the traffic load. I'd also like to thank the many lawyers and law firms that contacted me to offer pro bono services. As of yesterday, the number had grown too numerous to list, though I will make special mention of the team at the Electronic Freedom Foundation since they exist for exactly this type of issue.
It's been quite a few days folks. I must say that I've walked away from this feeling a little better about the world. Friends and strangers alike rallied to my cause. Big business did the right thing. Word about breast milk banking was spread hither and yon. (Of course you'll probably never go to either hither or yon, so you'll have to take my word for it.)
So let's wrap it up with this...
That'll do pig, that'll do.