The Lactivist's New Clothes

    February 8, 2007

Because I’ve been away on secret missions (not really, but it sounds good), there are a few stories that slipped through the net – like the Jennifer Laycock/National Pork Board hubbub that made the rounds recently.

In case you briefly retired from the blogosphere and perhaps missed the story, Jennifer, a noted SEO specialist and breast feeding activist (hence the term “lactivist“) was served with a cease and desist letter from the protectors of the pork trademark because of a CafePress t-shirt celebrating mothers who breastfeed.

The shirt causing all the drama made use of the caption “The Other White Milk,” which plays off the Pork Board’s trademarked slogan, “The Other White Meat”. If you’d like a full recap of the events leading up to this article, please read Jennifer’s thorough explanation.

While the situation began with a litigious approach, both parties have reached an agreement allowing Jennifer to sell a shirt similar to the one that initiated the Pork Board’s (over?)reaction.

These actions and reactions again demonstrate the viral power a well-maintained blog can have. Granted, Jennifer’s Lactivist blog wasn’t used as the primary source of communication between the two parties, but it was the conduit where the rest of us learned and reported about the situation.

Not surprisingly, once the initial story broke, the majority of the bloggers who cover this type of thing were firmly in Jennifer’s camp and I have to believe that played a part in the Pork Board’s decision to bring the situation to an understanding that was mutually beneficial. Jennifer’s follow-up post does a great job relaying the pork industry’s point of view:

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.

The whole Pork Board/Lactivist deal clearly demonstartes both sides of the viral fence. When the story first hit, many bloggers took the pork industry to task. Now that an understanding has been reached, Jennifer is making sure to give the Pork Board credit where it’s due, and in true blogger fashion, others are following suit.

So while some may question whether or not social media optimization is worthwhile (remember kids, buzz may be fleeting, but links are almost forever), there should be no denying social media does have influence, especially when bloggers rally around one of their own.