Tip: Maybe Don’t Let Your Trust Capital Situation Get This Bad
Some of you have been asking me to write about MckMama for a while now. (If you’re not familiar with MckMama, she is a blogger named Jennifer McKinney who blogs at MyCharmingKids.net, and who is most notable IMO to outsiders for the fact that she has inspired a huge following that is only surpassed in size by the legion of people who despise her.) I’ve shied away from it because I don’t feel like I’ve ever reached a sufficient understanding of the MckMama situation to provide any valuable insight.
That said: this is really interesting (if by interesting you mean “bad”), and I thought it might be an instructive point about the illusive nature of trust capital. Recently MckMama was hosting a giveaway involving Lansinoh breast pumps. In her posts on the topic, she had made reference to speaking to people “from Lansinoh” about the giveaway. Somehow (and when I say “somehow” I mean, one of MckMama’s detractors probably told them, since Lansinoh stated that the tweets were “address[ing] consumers’ questions about our involvement”) Lansinoh’s official Twitter account was informed of this and set about making it abundantly clear that Lansinoh had NOT been involved in any such giveaway, that they had never worked with MckMama in any capacity.
Well. That’s odd. And some confusion followed, which was kind of cleared up when Lansinoh posted on their blog that they had not run the giveaway, and in fact what had happened was that some PR subcontractor had given MckMama the pumps for a giveaway on her blog:
Late in the day on Feb. 7, Lansinoh was informed that Ms. McKinney was in fact part of a sampling effort carried out by a third-party service provider. Due to an unfortunate breakdown in communication, Lansinoh was not informed that four Affinity® Double Electric Breast Pumps were indeed provided to Ms. McKinney. Lansinoh is taking steps to address the breakdown in the approval process that contributed to this misinformation.
Well, I guess that PR subcontractor won’t be hired again, since Lansinoh wants nothing to do with any of this, reiterating “Lansinoh does not support or endorse the blog My Charming Kids or @MckMama.” Jennifer McKinney’s response is here, if you’d like to read it.
The takeaway for me is this: attention and trust capital are sneaky bitches. The whole thing reminds me of the story about Snooki from Jersey Shore getting gifts of competing designer handbags sent to her by companies who didn’t want her carrying their own bags. In other words: endorsement seems like a great idea until it doesn’t, and the audience turns on both you and the brand that you’re pimping.
Now listen: I’m an outsider, and I don’t know what the “true” story is here, and I’m not really sure it even matters. Both sides of the MckMama equation are pretty vehement about being right. But the only thing I know for sure is that when you have companies trying to absolve themselves of any kind of association with you, I think it might be time to reassess your personal branding message a bit. All bloggers have critics, and whether the criticisms are correct is really not relevant: if you get enough critics after you, they will become a market force of their own. This is why you cannot just ignore all of the critics and hope they will go away — what you might actually lose is all of your credibility.