Sjostrom: An apology to The Original Muck Boot Company, and mankind

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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.


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grbobf    
Houston Metro Area, TX  |  August, 06, 2014 at 12:29 PM

There is a REAL problem with this (and the prior) "blog" entries.... there is NO DATE for the ORIGINAL blog entry (only "updated mm/dd/yyyy") and then references to "last night", "10:30 p.m.", "9:30 p.m." "earlier in the day", "noon", etc., thus, there is NO CLEAR timeline of when things mentioned actually occurred! Also... "attention to detail" was LOST (or never obtained) on both sides/ends of this situation: 1) the Muck Boot Company social media entry confused the Humane Association of Northwest Rhode Island (HANRI) with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). HANRI appears to be UNRELATED in anyway to HSUS (other than sharing 1 common word, "Humane", in their names). For more info on HANRI, see: http://www.hanri.org/ 2) Lucas Sjostrom knowing that he HAD NOT CONFIRMED the DETAILED FACTS of the original MUCK BOOT CO. social media entry, went ahead and "PILED ON". How long did he have to wait to get a response from the Muck Boot Co. Why did he not attempt communication with the company via the website "contact us" information (https://www.muckbootcompany.com/page/contactus)? TYPICAL MISINFORMATION EXPLODING GEOMETRICALLY AT LIGHTNING SPEEDS VIA INTERNET SOCIAL MEDIA!!!! Wasted time & energy!

Sean O'Brien    
RI  |  August, 06, 2014 at 03:23 PM

Hi Lucas, Thanks for your post and your understanding. It was indeed a mistake on our part -- here’s some additional context. For several years our employees have donated to various local organizations. With the passing of a co-worker, many of our employees decided to fund the local animal shelter, based on his family wishes in lieu of flowers. He had a cat he adored. Beyond citing the wrong organization, which would have been bad enough, some folks have criticized us for capitalizing on a tragic passing. In retrospect we shouldn’t have shared this information on the brand page, but we simply wanted to share the employee camaraderie with our community. We hope your readers are as forgiving of this mistake. Sean O'Brien Director of Footwear, Muck Boots

steve    
new york  |  August, 06, 2014 at 05:51 PM

To little oo late. If what you claim is true you should have been more forth comming, and not waited days as it is you have lost my business. I am still waiting for a reply to my email at this point don't really expect one. To bad I liked the muck boots I have had in the past. If you read the original post there is no mention of a passing only a fundraiser for a charity. The post is up beat and whimsical. "Where is lois" I am assuming hiding behind the boots. Really stupid move.

Pat    
August, 07, 2014 at 10:44 AM

You claim someone's relative died and that justifies supporting HSUS? If that donation was the wish of the deceased, well, that jerk was misguided when alive and still misguided after checking out. Screw HSUS and every gullible dumbazz who supports them. There is no excuse for donating to hateful scam cults like HSUS, whether living, dead or just brain dead. No excuse. Goodbye Muck boots. Thanks for the wooden nickels.

JESS    
Washington  |  August, 08, 2014 at 09:57 AM

Steve and Pat. I don't understand your anger but if I had choice of buying YOUR product I would decline.

Candace Birch-Sterling    
Montana  |  August, 08, 2014 at 10:17 AM

The author's follow-up response to the original blog fails to qualify as a well-written, INFORMATIVE post. Rather, it clearly indicates the author's lack of professionalism in spreading innuendo and in stirring up antagonism where it doesn't belong. Maybe he lives solely among folks with "shared values" but the rest of us practice FINDING common ground and, often, agree to disagree. But we keep talking to neighbors and continue being neighborly. A blog, to my way of thinking, should clearly be an opinion piece or an investigative piece that follows standard journalistic practices.

Craig A. Moore    
Billings, MT  |  August, 08, 2014 at 11:42 AM

I wonder if you realize how much of an ass you are and if you did ANYTHING to see what the real story was. Jump on the band wagon, kick em when they are down and goosestep to your own tune are probably the things you like doing best.

steve    
new york  |  August, 09, 2014 at 08:08 AM

How is my response any different than that of the AR activists who condem whole industries because a few bad apples? Muck boots may or may not get my business back their future actions will tell, they have lost my business for this year.

Elalne    
Denham Springs, Louisiana  |  August, 10, 2014 at 04:42 PM

As of Friday the supposed donation to the "wrong" organization had not been received. In fact they were so bombarded by phone calls that they posted to their page that they had not received those funds and had not a clue about the supposed donation. I rescue. I promise anyone sending a $2000 donation to any local rescue, or shelter, would be noticed. That's a HUGE chunk of change for any rescue. I promise it wouldn't get overlooked among all the $5 donations. I know this has caused a great deal of concern for Muck but they certainly can redeem themselves, in my eyes, by making good the donation and educating their employees. I was thrilled to see the awareness on the publics part concerning HSUS and their agenda.

Craig A. Moore    
Billings, MT  |  August, 11, 2014 at 03:54 PM

So are you actually saying if someone else is a total jerk about something it is all right for you to be the same way? Is that what I read out of your response? Really?


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