Over the past several days, I received several messages from people asking my assistance.
- “Please help us,” the typical message requested, “to make this video go viral! It is very important for people to see this!”
The video is an angry man, Gary Joe Ahrns, showing us a significant amount food being disposed at a Walmart store. He’s outraged that so much food is just being thrown away when it could go to such good use if it was donated to charitable causes.
It’s hard to argue with the point made by Mr. Ahrns. Why just throw away such a large amount of food when there are so many needy people in every community? If his account was accurate, he has every reason to be so upset.
- …and there’s the problem.
A tornado had ripped through the local area on November 5, causing a power outage throughout the community. The food that Walmart was disposing of had been sitting for about 14 hours in coolers or freezers that had stopped working because the electricity was disconnected to the store.
- In other words, the food was spoiled. It was unfit for consumption and the local Walmart was responsibly executing their corporate policy — as well as following public health laws and regulations.
One aspect this situation illuminates is that we all have customers or propects who are willing to assume the worst about our intentions. In this time of social media and instant opinions, their criticisms can race around the newsfeeds of our marketplace in dramatic fashion. (As of this writing, Mr. Ahrns’s video has over nine million views.)
The first question is: how have you prepared in your business for those customers who assume the worst about you…and use the enormous platform of social media to spread their misinformation/disinformation?
By the time the local Walmart had posted the other side of the story and their logical — and legally mandatory — reason for doing what they did, the proverbial horse was out of the barn. Millions had already decided that Walmart was not interested in serving the needy in their respective communitites — and that they had made a grevious error. (When, in fact, they had not.)
- What if they would’ve front-loaded this by Tweeting about the food and their commitment to customer safety and health — as they were putting the spoiled food in dumpsters behind the store?
- What if they would have contacted local media to talk about what they were doing — and encouraged local citizens to check their own respective freezers and refrigerators to ensure they didn’t eat spoiled food?
- In other words, what if they would not have waited to tell their story?
Here’s the second question: how have you prepared to be proactive in telling your stories about the positive steps that your business is taking — so you can prevent the kind of disaster Walmart is enduring with over 9,000,000 people seeing negative — and inaccurate — information?
(Here’s the video and more on the story: https://www.wthr.com/article/walmart-says-viral-video-of-food-being-thrown-away-doesnt-tell-the-whole-story)