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Interesting piece in USA Today about how the rumor mill, driven primarily by the Internet, continues to create major problems for retailers and manufacturers that have to gauge whether or not to respond to the rumors, and how best to do so.

The poster child for corporate victimization in this area has been Procter & Gamble, which not only has had to contend with rumors that it gives some of its profits to Satanists, but also that one of its floor cleaners gives liver cancer to animals that walk on floors where it has been used. Neither is true, but P&G has had to consider whether even acknowledging such rumors gives them credence. The answer to that question is that dealing with rumors head-on is far better than letting them fester…but there’s always a potential downside.

Sometimes the rumors are being spread maliciously, and other times it is inadvertent or even well-meaning…such as when it began to be circulated recently that cellphone numbers were about to be made available to telemarketers.

Among the more popular rumors circulating out there: that Target doesn’t support veteran groups, that Starbucks doesn’t support the troops in Iraq, and that Costco is owned by the Chinese government (and that its name stands for China Off Shore Trading Company).
KC's View:
One of the reasons that an aggressive Internet presence, and even the use of corporate blogs, is important is that it allows companies to communicate directly with consumers.

We all know how serious the problem is, because we all get inundated with these sorts of emails almost on a daily basis – and 90 percent of the time, they seem to be forwarded by good and decent people who simply don’t know any better.