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2004-09-09
New York, NY. Wal-Mart Admits Message "Failure" in Media

According to today's New York Times, Wal-Mart has admitted to a "management failure" by neglecting to get its side of the company's story out to "a different group of stockholders today that is important." The company is now going to reach out to a new audience that may not be as familiar with Wal-Mart as its southern base, such as listeners of National Public Radio or the PBS Tavis Smiley show. Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott was speaking at a Wall Street retail conference when he admitted that his company's "message has not in fact gotten out." Even giant retailers can feel the rumblings of discontent, as Wal-Mart has endured worsening public relations in the media nationwide, including lavish attention on lawsuits against the retailer from its own workforce of 1.6 million people. "What we have found is that there is a different group of stakeholders today that are important," Lee Scott explained "and that is a person who's not familiar with Wal-Mart stores, they're not familiar with what we stand for. So their view of Wal-Mart stores is what they read in the newspaper and what they see on TV. We have decided it is important for us to reach out to that group." An "outreach program" to Wal-Mart appears to mean more spending on media buys in markets where they have not previously ventured. For years, Wal-Mart has closely monitored all of its media stories, and the company used to rank its stories by Congressional district. The retailer has hired a consultant to scour over every news article written about the giant. They did this for several years. They said they would "stroke" the media when unfriendly pieces came out. In recent years, that's meant a lot of stroking, as Wal-Mart reeled from story after story about the company's controversial internal culture. "For too long, we thought that if we just focused on our customers then everything else would follow," a Wal-Mart spokeswoman told the New York Times. "We probably did not realize soon enough how important it was to work with the media. It is an acknowledgement that the media and others offer important venues for telling our story, and we need to continue doing a better job at that." But the reality is that Wal-Mart was obsessing over its media image going back more than a decade, but in recent years has been unable to control the spin of many stories in the press. The New York Times story also quoted Scott as saying that when Wal-Mart comes under attack, "where appropriate, we will compromise." The Times piece also quotes Sprawl-Buster Al Norman as saying that Wal-Mart's message has gotten out perhaps too much. "The real story is getting out there," Norman said. "People are realizing that they've created an underclass of workers in this country. That smell is not going to go away with more corporate speeches. There is nothing new here. They are just coming under increasing heat."

What you can do: The problem for Wal-Mart is simple: people are finally beginning to understand exactly what Wal-Mart stands for. The giant retailer is a chain of exploitation that stretches from the sweatshops of China to the salesfloors of America. There will be no new compromising attitude at Wal-Mart. It's not part of the corporate culture, and, as one spokesperson admitted to the New York Times, "Our culture, our values are the same that they've always been." To learn more about that culture, get the book "The Case Against Wal-Mart" by calling free 1-877 DUNK WAL.










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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