Saturday, July 16, 2011

"the mystical public relations people you speak of..., said "R"

Music fills the cab of my truck.  I hear, "I want it all, I want it all, I want it all.  And I want it now."   Reminds me of the last few days and having several commentators to my blog pushing for an immediate publication of their comments.   And the accusations of one administrator to HM4HB that because I only responded to "the professionals,"  I was showing my disregard (disrespect) for the moms who administrators of HM4HBYikes blasted again and again, what's an old lady to do?  Yes, yes, must defend myself.  How could they not know me and my life? The premise is that the internet encourages community and transparency.  So how come they don't know me?  

Okay for those of you who don't know my schedule, here it is.  I am employed outside the home.  Sometimes I work 12 hours in one day.  My employment is not related to breastfeeding.  Some weeks I work 6 days.  I am tired and blurry eyed and I am 60 years old.  So immediate responses to my blog are limited by how long I have worked and how tired I am.  I realize that is no excuse because there are no excuses in the Virtual.  This is for Agustina, who believes that I only responded to "the professionals."  Hm... Yesterday I started to respond to the comments.  The first comment I received was from Karleen Gribble and second comment was from Jodine Chase.  By the time I finished my comments to each of them, I had to go to work.  I know a likely excuse.  I had planned to respond to each and every comment.  But...heck this is the internet and your impression of me has to be right.  I am an elitist and only respond to "the professionals."  Funny thing is that I was a stay-at-home mom myself until my divorce.  Then I became a single parent with 3 kids and I had to find employment or live on the side of the road.  I don't believe that a mom who stays home with their kids lacks intelligence, diligence, creativity, etc.  If I did, then I would truly not believe in my own values.  

My understanding from the flow of the comments is that almost all administrators to HM4HB deny that anyone at HM4HB is employed in the field of public relations.  So either they did not know that Jodine Chase was employed (I believe her own company) in Public Relations or they lied.  I believe that they did not know.  I don't think they lied.  Which makes me question the whole belief by HM4HB that the internet is community and transparent.  

I find it strange that Jodine right from the start of her comments did not say that she no longer volunteered for HM4HB.  It would seem to me that that would be a key statement to be made from the start.  Someone says the organization has a PR person in it, then it would seem that one would immediately dispel that notion.  Only much later, is this brought up.  And brought up after comments by other administrators who declare that there are no PR people in their organization.  So Jodine is no longer in the organization, except for one project, HM4HB Week.  

I know Jodine from some time back.  I knew she was in public relations.  In fact I thought she did PR work for HMBANA.  So I was somewhat confused by her involvement with HM4HB/Eats on Feets.  Because I believed that HMBANA is absolutely opposed to moms milk sharing over the internet.  In fact in 2000 HMBANA met with the FDA to suggest that regulation of milk sharing is needed because of the internet.  I believed that HM4HB was opposed to organized milk banking.  Wrong.  I happened to browse the Facebook page of HMBANA and a Facebook page for HM4HB page and both organization do not seem adverse to helping each other through HMBANA's critical donor milk shortage.  Posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at a Facebook page on HM4HB is a suggestion to moms that "if you have milk to share, you might want to see if you are close to a HMBANA milk bank.."
To see HMBANA's comments about HM4HB

Will the real mystical public relation people stand up?  Nope, it's the Virtual and nothing is as it seems.  
Copyright 2011 Valerie W. McClain


  1. Making assumptions is never a good idea but it seems to be human nature and something we need to deliberately guard against.

    I hope you don't include me in the list of people pressuring you to post replies - I decided I wanted my responses to your posts to be available to people publicly as fast as possible and so I published my responses on my own blog, and I intend to do so again today.

    I recognize it's not easy to find the time to manage comments to blog posts. In this new virtual world, where anyone can read and respond to what we write, our reputations can be hard to safeguard. Having inaccuracies out there in cyberspace can be damaging and people are quick to want to correct the record...and I don't blame those who posted for pushing you to respond. Your assumptions about HM4HB were, and are still wrong, and potentially damaging.

    (Just as your assumptions about me being a PR person for HMBANA are wrong, where the heck did that come from? For the record - I have never done paid or volunteer work for HMBANA. I have, however, worked in my own community to try to reestablish our milk bank.)

    In my first reply to you I described my volunteer time with HM4HB in the past-tense and then said I have moved on to other things. It's too bad this wasn't clearer, I wasn't my intent to obfuscate.

    Do keep in mind that because comments don't go live to your blog, some other HM4HB administrators saw your post and felt compelled to clarify without seeing my reply. That doesn't mean they are being dishonest. There is no professional PR magician or team of magicians behind the scenes. Those posters shouldn't be made to feel as if they are trying to fool you, or the public - they either weren't aware of my involvement or weren't aware that my profession is public relations. As I have mentioned, HM4HB is full of many volunteers with many skills - you don't have to be a professional public relations person to figure out how draft a news release or talk to the media.

    The bottom line? There is no secret public relations machine paid to be behind HM4HB. And there's no volunteer pr machine either. It is as true a grassroots effort as I have ever seen.

    If one were to point to the main reason for the network's success it would be that it was started by Emma Kwasnica, who is what Malcolm Gladwell referred to as a "connector" in his book, Tipping Point.

    I appreciate that you have chosen to acknowledge you were wrong in some of your assumptions about HM4HB, and about me. I'm always here, ready to answer any questions you might have about me, my involvement with HM4HB, my non-involvement with HMBANA, and anything else you want to know. We have at least one thing in common, Valerie - a desire for transparency.

  2. You are severely wrong, Valerie. And it's a shame the only way you see out is to spew more misinformation, considering your position.

    Peace to you and your endeavors, as false and harmful as they may be.

  3. Yes, Jodine works in PR as her job (or has, I don't know her current employment status). As far as HM4HB is concerned, she was never more then a volunteer page admin, just like the rest of us. Did she occasionally volunteer advice from a PR perspective? Of course, it's what she knows. But HM4HB has never and will never employ PR people. To be honest, there were many times when a PR thing was suggested and we went a completely different way. We all carry different skill sets and use them as the need arises. Just because someone has a job in real life does not mean that they wear that hat in everything they do. Sometimes volunteering is just volunteering.

  4. Lady, you are still disregarding the comments from all the mom's. You made mistakes in your last blog entry, you wrote about networks that you hadn't research and you published information that was outright incorrect. When the 'mothers' stepped up to speak their truth and set the information straight, instead of acknowledging that truth and taking the opportunity to ask questions, know more, get your information right, you are going deeper than the path of your wrong assumptions. To prove yourself right you are smearing Jodine Chase, a person with impeccable ethics. This is a classic example of women against women, you can't even conceive the idea of a very large, multicultural work of women working together to achieve something magnificent, so you have to trash your fellow women and questions their intelligence, work and ethics. You would rather believe that Jodine, who joined HM4HB after it had been all over the media, and later left, is responsible for all our success. And you can't see how that claim insults, belittles and underestimate the work of us all 'regular moms' you have been working our butts off in our local communities, reaching out and helping our own?

    PS. The same group of admins is the group that caused an international uproar when two months ago a woman named Habiba was removed from her child for breastfeeding on demand on a shelter for women in Madrid - Spain. They organised themselves, wrote a letter, sent it to embassies and consulates of spain all around the world, some by mail, some by email, some called.. and groups of women took it in person with signs and flyers to hand out to people passing by. Then others joined the campaigns and international protests were organised, hundreds of faxes were sent every day to social services in madrid. They wrote to every international newspaper until they got a reporter from the guardian to cover the news. The day after the article was published in the guardian, Habiba was reunited with her daughter. Spanish newspapers reported that never in modern history social services had returned a baby was so fast, and they gave the credit to the international movement of mothers that united to support this mother. It is not PR, it is social media, and knowing how to use it, to spread news, to organise ourselves and to make the leap from virtual life to real life to impact reality in very tangible worlds.

    You can choose to join the movement and help make actual changes in the world, or sit by from the sidelines and trash it, so you can prove yourself right.

  5. So Jodine works in PR, and volunteers, free of charge, for organizations that promote human milk consumption. So Augustina questioned you with a really intelligent letter and you pull her out. I was one of the "anonymous" posters who asked, "What PR people?" because nobody is receiving any pay or contracting any PR firms to promote us. I am a La Leche League leader and aspire to be an IBCBC, and I also co-administer the page for LaSo Puerto Rico. This does not mean that LLLI or the IBLCE are backers of the HM4HB network, it just means that I bring that knowledge to my volunteer work there.

    I have to ask this, and don't take it wrong, but are you okay? You seem to be really jaded and cynical about genuine efforts between women with similar interests and vision. So you lash out at everybody. I suggest you read some books by Laura Gutman and start letting go of your personal baggage, otherwise your whole jaded past will make you lash out at everybody and everything.


  6. Posting blogs based on assumptions and misinformation will only take up more of your precious time having to answer the objections to the absence of real facts, checking details would probs save you a bunch...just sayin.

  7. Jodine,
    I agree, "making assumptions is never a good idea but it seems to be human nature."
    On Linked-in, you write, "As a volunteer, provided media relations support to founder Emma Kwasnica; provided strategic communication support to the global network, administrated the HM4HB Alberta Community page."
    You write, "there is no secret public relations machine paid to be behind HM4HB." Is paid the operative word? Volunteering changes the picture somewhat. But certainly HM4HB had public relation assistance by you.

  8. ilse,
    "Considering my position?" Don't know what you mean by that comment.

  9. Angela,
    You wrote, "sometimes volunteering is just volunteering." Sometimes...sometimes not. Grassroots organizations with PR people (volunteers or paid) involved can appear to others to be something called "astroturf."

  10. Agustina,
    You write that I am still disregarding the comments from all the moms. I published all those comments. I did not argue against those comments. I allowed the moms space on my blog to disagree with me, just as I am now allowing you space to disagree with me. I didn't delete your comments, like some people do on some internet sites, like Facebook.
    I think there is more to life, issues, organizations than just one side, my side. As someone who has had her comments deleted, been given the silent treatment, etc; I can only hope that I give everyone a chance to have their say.

  11. Luly,
    You asked, if I was okay? Yes, I think I am. As for my "jaded past," do you know something I don't know? I'd be interested in knowing more about my "jaded past."

  12. Anonymous,
    Some things are a waste of time and some things are worth shining a little light on the subject.

  13. Really, you're basing all of this on what Jodine posted on LinkedIn? Seriously?

    Either way, it says she provided SUPPORT. It does not say that she ran a PR department (because such a thing doesn't exist). She supported other women. Meaning, she gave advice, answered questions. There are probably 100 of us who could say the exact same thing... and none of the rest of us have any PR experience. Why do you think this is some big conspiracy theory?

    If you're going to "shine a light on the subject", maybe you should know what you're looking at. Unsure? Ask questions. Any of our non-PR related admins would be happy to answer them.

  14. Angela,
    Reread the linked-in statement. It says, "provided media relation support."
    Yes, I get it, the administrators of HM4HB say there is no PR, no PR department. Yet, you had Jodine Chase, who is owner of a PR company, doing PR work. Where is the transparency in this?

  15. This is getting a bit ridiculous. The original claim by Valerie was that HM4HB may not be what it appears. She noted the move to change names from Eats on Feets Global to Human Milk 4 Human Babies Global and said it looked to her that at about that time PR people got ahold of the thing. She questioned whether HM4HB is what it appears to be. There was the inference of a secret PR machine and she wondered who was providing the money for that machine. It isn't an invalid question, it's just based on assumptions that turn out to be not correct. When I stepped forward and identified myself as having done volunteer PR work in an attempt to replace assumptions with fact, Valerie then chose to misinterpret a number of posts from HM4HB admins who were also attempting to set the record straight. We now have Valerie taking what I have said all along - that I have, as a volunteer, done public relations work with HM4HB, and using my own words to defend herself further. The situation is further muddied by the fallacious argument that all PR is bad and therefore if PR was used by HM4HB that must be bad, so we have both me and now my profession dragged through the mud. Enough. What if we set aside the discussion about public relations and instead talk about your main point in your original blog post - at least I think it's your main point. Does milksharing, (and milk banking) threaten the practice of breastfeeding? Are we putting too much focus on feeding the human baby human milk and not enough focus on how the human milk is fed? Are you saying, Valerie, there are corporate interests who would welcome more milksharing and more milk banking because they think it will ultimately result in less breastfeeding? Does that present them with an opportunity to profit from the sale of everything from infant formula, (necessary if both mom’s milk and the supply of donor milk dry up,) to breast pumps and plastic baggies and bigger freezers and Styrofoam coolers and at-breast supplementers? I'd like to see the discussion move back to that issue, as it is important and not something we should be ignoring while we bat around straw men.

  16. Jodine,
    The issue regarding HM4HB is transparency, lack of transparency. I don't have a problem with public relations. I do have a problem with HM4HB, when administrators state publicly that there are no PR people within the organization. I have no problem with an organization stating that they have a PR department and this is the company or person who is doing the PR. This shows transparency. Yet, HM4HB administrators have stated that there are no PR people in their organization. That all PR is done by the consensus of 300 administrators, a group effort. I think that is amazing that 300 people work so well together that they can create press releases.
    What is the relationship between HM4HB and HMBANA? There are various pages on the HM4HB Facebook pages suggesting mothers donate to their local HMBANA milk banks. That is not mother to mother sharing. HMBANA publicly and in discussions with the FDA wants "regulation" of mother to mother human milk sharing. They believe that mother to mother sharing is too risky. Yet they are willing to let HM4HB broadcast their need for donor milk. And why would an organization that promotes mother-to-mother human milk sharing encourage their mothers to donate to HMBANA (when that organization basicly wants mother-to mother human milk sharing to be shut down)? Rather fascinating.

  17. I'd love to see the pages where HM4HB tells women to donate to HMBANA. Let's start there. Screen shots or links would work great.

  18. There are a number of pages on HM4HB's Facebook asking mothers to consider donating to HMBANA milk banks because of the "shortage" of donor human milk.


  19. HM4HB responded to the call from HMBANA for milk by issuing this statement on the HM4HB Global fan page on Facebook on April 11, 2011:

    "North America’s non-profit milk banks are calling for all lactating women to consider donating. Emma Kwasnica has said, “Breast milk is not a scarce commodity. It's a free-flowing resource, and we are dumping it down the drain.” Yet North America’s non-profit milk banks are experiencing a shortage of donors for the sickest, premature babies. HM4HB supports human milk for all human babies. If you have milk to share, you might want to see if you are close to a HMBANA milk bank and if you fit their criteria for donating. If you cannot, or do not wish to, donate to HMBANA, you can connect with others in your community in need of your milk via your local (state/provincial) HM4HB page. Some mothers do both. HM4HB supports all mothers to share their milk in the manner of their choosing.

    HMBANA's news release with contact info:"

    At that time HM4HB also decided to explore further its relationship with milk banks. A group of interested administrators was formed and the work has started. Before HM4HB can discuss its relationship, however, it needs to learn more about hwo milk banks operate in each of the countries where it is active - it's not just HMBANA banks, there are milk banks in Australia, the UK, France, Germany, and a number of countries like New Zealand, Iceland, Canada have milk bank initiatives underway.

    Although I don't volunteer for HM4HB anymore, I am still part of the group that is exploring its relationship to milk banks and I can tell you the work is still at the info gathering stage.

    You will notice though, that there are two HM4HB chapters who have statements on milk banks in their countries - the UK and France chapters.

    HM4HB UK's statement in part:

    "The World Health Organisation recommends that babies receive milk from their mother first, and then milk from another mother if the mother is struggling, or absent. Commercial formula is fourth on the list, just above raw animal milk. This is due to the health risks associated with not breastfeeding, and with using formula.

    In the UK, we have a well established, but tiny, network of milk banks attached to hospitals. These banks collect, screen and store breast milk for the sickest premature babies in intensive care. If you are considering donating milk in the UK then donating to a milk bank would be an option. There is a link below.

    If you cannot donate to the milk banks, or don't wish to, then HM4HB can help you find others in the UK in need of your milk. Some mothers do both of course!..."

    HM4HB France has a similar statement.

    HM4HB is a relatively new organization and it is run by volunteers. You are right to note that the consensus governance process can take time, Valerie. While some of what you are observing about the public face of HM4HB is not what I would call transparency, it's not, in my opinion, an attempt to be deliberately opaque. I believe the network's admins are focusing their resources on work of higher priority.

  20. So, there are two that inform women there will be milk banks opening in their area. Apparently you look harder than I do, as I just see that as informing women there are other places to donate. NOT that they need to go donate there. I assumed you meant HM4HB flat out said "please go donate to here." Hmm oh well. Guess if you really look for some hidden message, you'll find it right?

  21. Why would HM4HB want to suggest donating to HMBANA milk banks, when HMBANA has publicly stated their belief that mother-to mother milk sharing is risky? HMBANA in the year 2000 was in discussion with the FDA to regulate on-line milk sharing (did that even exist in 2000?). HMBANA is working for the demise of internet mother-to-mother milk sharing.
    And if HMBANA is so upset over the riskness of mother-to-mother milk sharing, why would they allow an organization that is doing that advertise for them?

  22. I am sorry to see all you have not experienced yet, clearly, is generosity at it's purest, kindness, and abundance the way it HAPPENS on daily basis via HM4HB. Yes! Absolutely no strings attached!

    Valerie, it really does happen. Again, I've Invited you to take a peak. No PR, there, lady. Just moms giving and receiving rightful human milk for their children via informed choice.

    It is not a far step to believe and to know, even, as proven by the success of such pages, that Emma's now 'famous' saying 'milk is not a scarce commodity, it is a free-flowing resource' (and I paraphrase?) that there is plenty milk to go around. For the milk banks, who serve a very specific and most dire population, we hope that by raising milk donation awareness, they will either indirectly or directly benefit, and eventually see that we pose no risk to their honorable endeavor -much to the contrary, as we all can now see the need and for such, just not only in premature babies., we happily exist.

    love to you.from the fears you express, it seems like people have certainly been conditional with their giving it to you, but now I digress...
    Previously I meant your position, simply, as a blogger and as someone involved in the breastfeeding world. :)

    Thank you.

  23. I should clarify... 'no PR there' meant as in the way you haven meant for it to appear: as spin... I should rephrase to: find excellent and genuine PR right there, in the mouths of the very own mothers partaking in a global movement like few or no others, which is milk sharing?

    Thanks again.