Last night, at around 10:30 p.m. I wrote up a piece about The Original Muck Boot Company and its supposed donation to HSUS, a known animal rights organization, in “Muck Boot company wading with HSUS?” Please note the word “supposed,” and the question mark at the end of the title.

I had seen the post earlier in the day, and then saw a few more posts at 9:30 p.m. and wrote the article. At about noon, the company responded with an apology on Facebook. Here’s an excerpt:

“We would like to respond to our loyal customers…”
“…Family members of an employee who recently passed away requested that, in lieu of flowers, co-workers donate funds to the Humane Association of Northwestern Rhode Island…”
“…The money is not a corporate donation, but a collection of personal contributions from employees with the intent of remembering a beloved co-worker. While our intentions were good, the use of corporate social channels under these circumstances was inappropriate...”

I was wrong, and for my speculation I apologize. I hope anyone else who wrote a blog or article does the same. I might order new Muck Boots soon. I might not. I especially apologize that this was a human loss while I guessed it was a pet loss.

My modus operandi

Seeing no press information on the website, and that I had missed their customer service hours, I ran the commentary last night. Despite me targeting the company’s pages on both Facebook and Twitter, I’ve still heard nothing. I called customer service tonight (phone lines and internet signals were jammed at an event I attended all day today) around 7 p.m. I suggested to the kind woman on the phone that she had probably had a few calls about HSUS today, and told her that I was a reporter. She affirmed this, but said they were given no number for press or anyone else today. A release to squash all the rumors (my words, not hers) will be released tomorrow morning, she explained. I thanked her.

But, opening my internet browser tonight, I saw that people were rude and unkind to the Muck social media accounts. If I were Muck I would not want to interact with a bunch of jerks either.

Getting home, I assumed I would have something in one of my inboxes or voicemail when the internet caught up with me. Nothing. When I spoke poorly of Chobani marketing they emailed me information on how to get a free cup of yogurt. Bribery? Maybe (not really – the offer wasn’t just for press), but at least they tried.

Now, Facebookers are questioning the Muck response.

That’s fine, but I’ll take it at face value until tomorrow morning. The issue is a bunch of people called the local humane society that supposedly received the donation, but since there was no “Muck” donation they think its bunk. As someone who has donated things en masse before, it takes time to cash other people’s checks and then send a letter. And who knows what name that donation would be in since it is private?

Culture matters; share your values

For me, the interesting part about this is that I was going to write an editorial on the importance of company culture on the farm. This is a great example of why sharing values with our vendors is important. I think the popularity of last night’s article shows that others agree that shared values are important, so I will continue to write similar stories.

Muck did not do a good job telling their employees what was important to their customers (or the social media coordinator did not do a good job listening). It could be because they are large, or because they did not see the importance.

In contrast, one dairy farmer neighbor of ours forces any vendor he does business with to join our local milk producers association as an associate member if they want to do business on his farm. That’s shared values. Guess what, it works – they’re all members at some level of their choosing.

Sorry, fellow humans

I hate feeding the beast of our 24-hour news cycle like I did last night, but there were hundreds of comments and shares and 4-days passed before anything was addressed. If someone would have written “Oops, we tagged the wrong Humane Society and meant XXXXXX and it was actually not a company event” on Friday, they could have saved face instantly.

So, to human kind – I’m sorry that we care about the wrong things. My article received the most views of nearly any I’ve written so far, and we’re just 24-hours in. We write about market-moving and industry-changing events with much less fanfare. Humans love controversy, it seems. Tabloids still sell.

I am sorry that Muck Boots doesn’t have any way for press to get in touch with the company. I could have found out the full story around 8 a.m. and updated everyone sooner.

I am sorry that some people immediately put Muck in the doghouse without hearing the full story. If Muck does support us, and to me it appears that they do, why are we abandoning a friend when they’re down? If we could put Muck out of business overnight, that means one less company that can help us wage war. It would be one less group of employees who might care about us when our way of life is on the line.

I am sorry we feel like targets so often. But I don’t think making more enemies will help us be targeted less frequently.

I am sorry this entire situation happened. But it drives me to educate one more person tomorrow about agriculture and the façade of HSUS. Learn more at HumaneWatch.org.