Saturday, December 26, 2009

How Borders' PR has evolved since this campaign began Nov. 30

Donate, Not Dumpster wrote on December 26, 2009 at 7:17am:

It's been interesting to watch Borders' PR evolve since this campaign began on Nov. 30. In her response to the below (12/24) post, Borders spokesperson Mary Davis makes it clear why Borders needs to stop trying to stonewall this issue until the store closings are over, and put out a press release pledging to work with publishers to find a way to donate the unsold books instead of destroying them.

"We will not be disposing of product as a result of the Waldenbooks store closures" is a noble sentiment, but it's hard to believe there's no possibility some books will remain unsold. It also glosses over the fact that many of the books they will be "returning" to publishers for credit will actually be stripped of covers and dumpstered. Why can't Borders use this opportunity to take a stand against its own industry's wasteful practices, and work something out so that they can be donated instead? The company needs to figure out a plan, issue a press release, and then we'll stand up and cheer Borders for doing the right thing.

It's also a contradiction of Davis' own words in response to a story about this campaign (published Dec. 16): "Please know until that team vets this issue and we decide appropriate next steps, we will hold off disposing whatever small amount of product that would normally be discarded."

It's a little like a hall of mirrors. The first responses from the company clearly stated "we do not expect to have product to donate or to dispose of" once clearance sales at the closing stores are over. Now that nearly 3,000 concerned book lovers are watching, they've admitted some books were going to be trashed all along!

In fact, the more detail Borders gives in their responses to folks who care about this issue, the more questions are raised as to whether they're committed to doing anything about it before the (now 180) Waldenbooks stores close.

After HuffPo ran a story on this campaign two weeks ago, Waldenbooks VP Pat Wynn said in response that Borders "will reconvene an existing team that we have on this issue to address it fully." Yet below, Davis describes the team this way:

"we've put together a group of individuals here at our corporate headquarters to take a look at our product disposal practices overall and see what can be done to benefit communities, while still meeting our business needs. It will take some time to examine this issue..."

This is corporate speak for, "we might do something, we might not. It depends on how big of a PR problem these pesky people who are trying to save the books become."

If Borders is serious about examining this issue to the benefit of communities, they can donate "whatever small amount of product that would normally be discarded" to local nonprofits. The company’s customers, employees, and book lovers everywhere will thank them for it.

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