What was learned from the Scotts Miracle-Gro, National Wildlife Federation fiasco? First, the bigger a non-profit gets the more likely they are to partner up with questionable allies. What was The NWF thinking? Partnering up with a company that had just admitted to poisoning wild birds through tainted seed? The question for the NWF is, will they recover from this? Simply through association with Scotts, The NWF has called into questioning their entire vetting process.
The second lesson in this affair is profound for us in the gardening trades. The customer has more influence than ever before, and they are calling the shots. Not only are they calling the shots, but they have the means to spread their thoughts quicker than ever before. So quickly with the Scotts-NWF affair, it caught them off guard. What do you do as a garden retailer if a local garden writer with influence decides to start a boycott through social media of your Scotts Lawn Fertilizer and pre-emergent, and hence your store? How you respond will be spread through the community, for better or worse.
It use to be things we're done differently with "old media". Your store might advertise with the local paper, or radio station. Therefore that media might give you the benefit of the doubt before they published something negative about you. Give you the "heads up" so to speak, or not publish it at all. Of course advertising dollars are at play in new media also. Yet some are driven by passion, and not dollars. If they believe in something with enough passion, it may not matter whether you buy ad space with them, or not. It's a whole new world.
The answer? Run your business in a way that is true to you, and your customers values. The time will come to answer some critic(s), but you'll have a track record of honesty and trust that negates the negativity. The better businesses always have more positive reviews than negative ones. If your wondering what, if anything is being said about you or your business try a search of "garden centers" and your "zip code" to see what comes up. There might be a Yelp, or Google review of your business. Is there anything being said about your place, good or bad? If not, why not? People are talking. Are you there, and are you listening?