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Is Admittance the Key?

April 24, 2011

The agriculture industry has once again been buzzing as Mercy for Animals released a new undercover video early last week (I know I’m running quite a bit behind the bandwagon). Consequently, my journalism class began talking about crisis management in Public Relations this past week as well. The Exxon Valdez oil spill, and Tylenol still go down as the worst, and best, handlers of a crisis. In Exxon’s case, they paid to clean up the spill, but didn’t do much else. Tylenol however lost millions in product sales when they pulled all bottles of medicine off the shelf after a few isolated instances of cyanide poisoning. They admitted they had a problem and Tylenol came back as a corporation stronger than ever, and consumers continue to trust their brand still today.

A Job Well Done

Kirt Espenson of the E6 Ranch Hart TX, spoke to Trent Loos on Wednesday, and I believe he did a great job of explaining what happened. As with all undercover videos we will never know the full story, but in Espenson’s case I commend him for taking responsibility for his employees, and their actions, even when he says he had no idea what was going on. Trent Loos also did an interview with Nathan Runkle, the founder of Mercy for Animals.

What I think…

It’s difficult to see people blame producers for their own employees actions, and call farmers heartless, greedy animal abusers. Abuse of animals and improper treatment is something no one ever wants to see. However, farmers can’t point the finger at someone else, their employees, or the undercover investigator.

I believe it was wrong of Mercy for Animals to pose this “random investigation” and trespass onto someone’s farm. But it was also wrong for the employees to use improper treatment.

Maybe the key to helping consumers understand that we don’t want to see animals hurting anymore than they do is to fess up to our actions. Take the blame, even when it’s not ours to take. After all we are responsible for our employees. After all, isn’t admitting that there’s a problem the first step to fixing it?

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