Earlier this week farmers, ranchers, hunters and agriculture enthusiasts took to social media to enlighten The Original Muck Boots Company about the true intentions of HSUS and express their displeasure with the ‘charity’ of choice. You can read the original post here. After many upset voices were heard, some light was shown on the actual situation. The events of the entire debacle are outlined below in summary.
- Muck Boots posted a picture announcing a fundraiser for the Humane Society of the United States and that a donation had been made to the ‘charity.’
- Farmers and ranchers are upset and react by sharing their thoughts about the donation on Facebook, Twitter and many blog posts.
- Realizing an error has been made and that they’re in trouble, Muck Boots issues the following statement:
- This adds a completely different rationale to the issue. A donation to HSUS, however misguided, may have been the wishes of a recently passed employee. I want my wishes carried out after I am gone but how does a social media manager confuse HSUS and the HANRI – they aren’t similar to type (other than the word ‘humane’). I think someone is in deep trouble at Muck Boots.
- But wait! The Humane Association of Northwestern Rhode Island made the following statement on their page a few hours later (page has since been taken down so no screenshot).
- “Okay folks to clear things up — WE HAVE NOT RECEIVED A DONATION FROM MUCK BOOTS! WE ARE NOT AFILIATED [sic] WITH THE HSUS. Although a $2000 donation would be very nice. But please stop calling us to ask, we have enough to do caring for the animals in our shelter and taking care of out [sic] patients.”
- At this point, the waters are very muddy. It appeared that Muck Boots, seeing that they were in hot water for supporting HSUS, has changed their story to make amends. But that seemed to be a lie!
- Towards the end of the debacle, HANRI issued another Facebook post (again, no screenshot):
- “Okay everybody, let’s clear the air here… Not sure what all the controversy was about today but I do not want our organization to be misrepresented. I got a call from Muck Boots and they are donating to our organization in honor of one of their employees who recently passed away. And while we’re not affiliated with the HSUS we do NOT condemn them and actually share many of their values, (only I don’t make $200,000 a year). I just found it interesting that this donation caused so much controversy when there are so many other issues to be concerned with. I also wonder why so many people who are obviously partake in activities that are contrary to our beliefs “liked” our page.”
As you can see, these past few days have been quite heated. So to tie this all up with a bow, here are the takeaways and, of course, my opinion.
- A memorial is a private, bittersweet, yet beautiful act meant to honor the deceased. I would not deny someone their last wishes or a memorial donation, even to HSUS. Had the memorial donation been clear from the very start, I don’t think such a reaction would have occurred and, if so, I would not have endorsed it. I would have been disappointed at the choice but I would not have been so vocal and I think it’s important to reflect on that piece of information.
- Muck Boots needs to conduct some extensive training with their social media managers about what is and isn’t appropriate for corporate social media updates. Not only did the manager mistakenly say the donation was made to HSUS, I believe they lessened the brevity of the memorial donation by posting it on a very visible social media outlet. Thoroughly investigate the details of posts before updating a page – the outcomes could be disastrous if this simple rule isn’t followed closely.
- There have been quite a few people in the agriculture community who are not proud of the reaction that took place but I have to say that I disagree. Four years ago, a community of farmers and ranchers voiced their disdain at Yellow Tail’s decision to donate to HSUS and the wine company sat up and took notice. While they are still in business, I know that I have not purchased their wine in four years and I would dare to bet that they never consider donating to HSUS again. The goal of speaking up is not necessarily to run a business into the ground but to bring to light the grotesque nature of HSUS’ business practices and expose them for the lobbyist organization they truly are. In both the case of Yellow Tail and Muck Boots, exposure was achieved and if nothing else, that is a great accomplishment.
- Do I think the ag community did the right thing? Absolutely. Advocates and the collective agriculture community have grown larger, stronger and more vocal over the past few years. To expect a very public donation to HSUS [in the beginning] not to induce a response from farmers and ranchers is absurd, at best. If tomorrow I were to see another company, who is very largely supported by farmers, ranchers and agriculture customers in general, donate to HSUS I would react the same way. I am a consumer and I have a right to voice my opinion and expect to see change. We have worked long and hard to have a voice in the game and to see these kind of results, and I’m proud of my contemporaries and colleagues for speaking up.
To wind this all up: social media training is needed, transparency is warranted and the consideration of the type and kind of reaction are strenuously necessary. Also, if HSUS weren’t a bunch of colossal jerks, this wouldn’t have happened!
Ok – here is where YOU chime in!
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~
The thoughts and opinions of this blog post strictly represent that of Brandi Buzzard Frobose and are NOT representative of any other entity or organization.