Monday, March 4, 2013
Integrity has been on my mind lately. In the continuum of human actions there's a whole lot of grey between black and white. Some people wallow in gray. Most companies do. So, when Maker's Mark announced in early February that it was going to lower its alcohol content from 45% to 42%, I took notice.
Most companies hide when they are going to give us less. Take for example my 5 pound bag of sugar. Oh wait. You can't. Across the board, all the sugar producers very quietly, and at the same time, went from 5 pound bags to 4 pound bags. Oh yes, and the price stayed the same. So consumers were tricked into a 20% price increase. This sneaky change didn't endear the sugar companies to me.
But Maker's Mark let us know that it was changing its product because it wanted people to be able to buy more than one glass when they were out. It was honest. A trait rarely seen on our playgrounds anymore, much less corporate America. Anyway, after lots of hue and cry, Maker's Mark decided not to change its product.
Some (like Forbes) have speculated that the whole debacle was a publicity stunt to increase brand awareness. And, I'm not naive enough to discount the idea. It might have been. But I suspect that if people hadn't complained, Maker's Mark would have gone ahead with its plans and diluted its alcohol content to sell more liquor.
Here's where Maker's Mark won me over, even if this was a PR stunt, it came right out and told consumers what it was going to do and why. It didn't engage in a sneaky price hike by reducing what I get for my money and not telling me.As a result, Maker's Mark will remain a brand I trust.
To me integrity in writing means having integrity means keeping your promise to your readers. There are writers who I know will give me a good story, and great world building for each novel I pick up no matter how different this series is from what's come before. Those writers have earned my trust because of their integrity. I could name drop, but I won't unless you ask which writers I trust in the comments.
Not surprisingly, I'm leery of picking up stories by other writers because they don't have story integrity for me. These are the writers whose plot twists only existed because that writer withheld information a POV character knew.
We make thousands of choices every day. Most of them don't have long term implications in our lives. Some that seem immediate - like what to have for lunch - can have longer term effects. Every once and a while, though, we face a choice that can change our life.
We work all our lives to build our reputations, both personal and professional. One bad choice can destroy a reputation.
I'm going to suggest that when you're standing at one of those crossroads, whether as a writer or some other part of your life, choose the path that shows your integrity. People will keep coming back if you do.