On Being an Ambassador
As my readers know, this is a magazine – not a blog. From time to time I (as the publisher) feel the need to pontificate. (Hopefully with wit and good grammar.) Hold your tongue – you readers with hefty English degrees.. This one is ‘on being an ambassador’ (and I’m one for writing like I speak).
I was invited to an overview of P&G products. Having been a McDonald’s All-Access Mom I know what it means to align yourself with a brand. (Insert nail biting here). You must know everything about the company and it’s practices – often more than the employees or executives. You must field questions via social media, be honest on camera and willing to put in 14-hour days. You must be an investigative reporter with discerning questions (without being kicked out of the program entirely – for what good would that do?).
I admit that I hesitated. The McDonald’s experience was more than I had bargained for and yet I discovered a company and culture that were incredible. And then I was asked to be a P&G Mom. Who was I to demerit another ‘huge’ company based on rumour and social media pressure? But the term ‘ambassador’ has certain responsibilities. I agreed to see what they had to say. I knew that given my experience, I was able to ask the right questions. I was willing to take the social media heat.
So I went. And I am so thrilled I did. Of course I’m a ‘Four Season’s girl (they hosted it there) and love trying new products (which many of us have donated and have been sent to Hurricane Sandy victims in New York with the help of Coach USA). But there was more. More good. More positive.
The executives I spoke to about toxicity and environmental responsibility emailed me back the next day (on a Saturday) with specific answers. The PR folks were proactive in addressing my concerns. Other executives from Proctor and Gamble delved into my mind, looked into my eyes over dinner – and they REALLY wanted to know how I felt about… laundry – not just their laundry products. I felt as if I could make an impact. If I am honest, open and transparent – when I bring concerns from my readers to the appropriate people – perhaps I / we can help guide the direction of the company. I really believe this is what P&G had in mind with the program.
On the big day of the conference, P&G hired a moderator to get feedback from real moms on so many of their products. That’s corporate responsibility. That’s smart. (It also gives them a huge savings on big-idea consulting.). When the McDonald’s executives discussed their program over dinner with the 4 moms involved in the All-Access program, I certainly felt as if we had made an impact. The CEO took handwritten notes. He asked a hundred questions. (And only a portion of our feedback was positive. But they didn’t want to hear the positive stuff.) They wanted the moms’ perspective on what needed to be changed to make them a better company. They know what they do well. They want to be better. And as true ‘ambassadors’, we were in a position to tell them.
That’s what an ‘ambassador’ means. You need to know more about the company than most of the employees. And be willing to be smart and mature on social media. You need to think outside the box. To seriously consider negative feedback from social media and take a risk to get the real answers. You need to meet the people behind the company – the chemists and farmers and salespeople. This is why companies are paying attention to Mom ambassadors. That is what will propel the profession and help the public connect with the brands. And that is why any time we agree to the role of ‘ambassador’, it is a big job. A big responsibility.
From what I have heard and read so far, I am very much an ambassador. But I chose to get my BA in theatre and politics – not in chemistry or sales – and I cannot learn all of these arts in a few days. So I invite all of my readers – just as I did as a McDonald’s All-Access Mom – to ask questions. You know more than I do about your own experience as a Mom and a professional – and as an ambassador, I am simply a conduit to extracting honest and relevant answers. We’re all parents. We all want healthy, happy kids. Ask me. I assure you I will get the answers. That’s what an ambassador does.