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Posts Tagged ‘Walmart’

Sarah Palin’s Media Relations Strategy: Keep ‘Em in the Back Room at Walmart

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Sarah Palin has made millions telling people how much she hates every media outlet that doesn’t pay her, and this week she revealed that her basic strategy for dealing with journalists at an event is “relocate them to a back room in Walmart and make sure they don’t talk to me or anyone here to see me.”

The former half-term governor of Alaska visited a box store in Wisconsin to sign copies of her new Anti-Anti-Christmas book and, according to her Facebook page, show the world “that there is power in unity as we battle against Scrooges who want Christ out of Christmas.”

The only thing that makes it remotely newsworthy is the way her “team” dealt with the local journalists who showed up to write about her (because love and hate both drive traffic): they guided the group to a back room, closed the door and directed a guard to watch them until the event was over.

Oh, and:

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Walmart Turns Internal Promotions Into Holiday Publicity Stunt

shutterstock_139266389Who else but Walmart (or is it still “Wal-Mart”, because we lost track) could turn a string of standard promotions into a PR campaign?

Don’t get us wrong—it’s pretty cool that the ‘mart is giving 25,000 of its employees a big thumbs up in the fourth quarter. And dispatching top execs to various stores during the holiday season in order to announce “on-the-spot surprise promotions” is a smart move. But the idea that a job inside the world’s biggest, cheapest box “offers economic security and opportunity” is more than a little ridiculous no matter how many new titles and raises the organization hands out.

CEO Bill Simon said “It’s as good a time as any to tell our story”, which means “defend ourselves against the widespread assumption that most of our employees don’t earn living wages”. The company already announced plans to move 70,000 employees from part-time to full-time status by the end of the year, but that won’t stop advocacy groups from encouraging them to unionize or disputing the company’s own numbers.

Here’s the press release, which emphasizes that Walmart “expects to promote more than 160,000 associates to jobs with higher pay and more responsibility this year.”

At the very least, the company is doing a better job of aggressively protecting its reputation. What do we think?

Walmart: Save Money. Live Better. Tweet Haters?

walmart_bingoWalmart. Say the name and see vitriol spew all over your new graphic tee, on-sale Dickies and imitation Crocs (all sold at the Bentonville empire). Why? Ask the question and you can find a plethora of answers, in many languages no less.

Understanding this gargantuan amount of rancor for the retail giant would help an aficionado of social media to understand the roller coaster of entertainment it would be as Walmart’s social media management team. Good times, right? Up there with owning a timeshare in Iran as a “good real estate investment.”

Typically, an organization of that stature has to take the tweeting enmity, spam containing the Ebola virus and even DMs with pictures from People of Walmart all with a grin, a turn of the head and move on wishing a job would open at Target. Not any more, you haters of anonymity.

It seems the home of low prices is taking its high standards out to pasture and rolling up its collective bargain-shopping sleeves to fight back on Twitter, as broken by Digiday.

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The Secret to Winning CSR: Become a Better Company

Wal Mart Hazardous Waste

We just read this month’s Harvard Business Review piece on corporate reputation by former Edelman vice chairman and Walmart corporate affairs VP Leslie Dach, and it’s  worth a glance if you haven’t seen it.

To summarize, Walmart struggled to improve its reputation with better messaging, but when Hurricane Katrina struck its team had something of an “aha” moment. “No internal debate was needed” because the team knew that mobilizing its resources to provide victims with food, emergency supplies and cash was simply “the right [thing] to do”. Afterward, the path forward became clearer—Walmart would seek out opportunities and set specific objectives in areas like sustainability and “women’s economic empowerment” in order to overcome bad press.

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Walmart Plans to Double Beer Sales by Being Less Difficult

Beer_at_Walmart_in_Kissimmee_FLWalmart is already the largest beer retailer in the US (yes, really — it seems to be the top of mind choice when people want to buy a cheap kid’s toy, groceries, a gun, and some brews all in one place), but beer distributors haven’t exactly found the company easy to work with in the past.

Because the retailer generally orders new stock just in time, “their backrooms have no storage,” said David Black, CEO of Northeast Sales Distributing, in an interview with AdAge. “They refuse the order or they make you sit there for three hours while they take something else.”

According to Walmart Chief Merchandising and Marketing Officer Duncan Mac Naughton, however, all that is about to change.

At a recent National Beer Wholesalers Association meeting in Las Vegas, Mac Naughton reiterated his company’s plan to double beer sales in the next three years, noting that Walmart is still “under-shared” in beer sales compared with competitors. While he aknowledged that it’s been “hard to sell beer to Walmart,” he said the company was working to improve product flow while securing more dedicated storage space for beer. Read more

How to Help Your Brand Connect to LGBT Audiences

Now that the majority of Americans (if not the majority of American states) have accepted same-sex marriage and effectively welcomed the LGBT community into mainstream culture, brand strategists are brainstorming over how to make the most of a large and passionate demographic. Why? Well, gay men and women do “have the largest amount of disposable income of any niche market,” so…money.

That’s according to Community Marketing Inc., a gay-centric research organization that just released its 7th annual LGBT community survey of more than 30,000 consumers in 100 different countries. Their findings should help marketing/PR pros better understand the community.

The fact that LGBT individuals “keep up with online media” isn’t much of a revelation, but here are some more interesting conclusions:

  • “LGBT” is the preferred term for gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals, though gay men are equally receptive to the phrase “gay and lesbian”. Words like “queer”, “rainbow” and “gay-welcoming” are less effective (probably because they’re condescending).
  • Consumers prefer that corporate communications refer to their legal relationships with the terms “spouse” or “husband/wife”, though “partner” also works. Dated terms like “significant other” and “gay couple” don’t test so well.

Labor Groups Question The Impact The Latest Bangladeshi Safety Pact Will Have

Under pressure to take action to improve the safety conditions at Bangladeshi factories that make their goods, 17 American retailers including Walmart, Target, and Gap have signed on to the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. However, the plan is already coming under fire from labor and human rights groups who say that the failure to include a third party monitoring system or any labor representation makes the plan, essentially, a “sham.”

The discussion over factory safety continues months after the Rana Plaza building collapse in April that killed more than 1,100 people in Dhaka. A fire in another factory in Bangladesh killed 112 people in November. In both cases, workers were making garments intended for sale by some of the biggest retail companies in the world. Walmart and Sears claim they didn’t know their goods were being made at Rana Plaza. Read more

Back-to-School Ads Before Fireworks? How Early is Too Early?

Okay, we realize that the back-to-school shopping season is — next to the winter holiday season — the most important time of year for retailers, but as infuriating as it is to see Christmas lights in stores before Halloween, we find it equally jarring to see back-to-school ads running between spots for Independence Day sales.

As most families were planning 4th of July festivities, retailers like Apple and Walmart were already thinking about pencils, books, electronics and school clothes, hoping to get an early jump on the $84 billion in sales that back-to-school shopping accounts for in the retail world. But are people really receptive to school-related advertising just a week or two after the last bell rings?

Statistically, most people start stocking up on school supplies three to four weeks before classes begin (i.e. mid-to-late July through mid August). “In seven and a half years, I’ve never once seen so much emphasis put on back-to-school before July 4,” National Retail Federation spokeswoman Kathy Grannis told AdAge.

Since the start of the recession, the NRF has noticed a change in holiday shopping trends — rather than waiting until the last few weeks to shop, many people attempt to space out their spending by starting their shopping early. It’s possible that retailers like Apple and Walmart are hoping a similar trend may appear with back-to-school shopping. Read more

Garment Industry Opts for Makeover After Bangladesh Disaster

The factory collapse that killed more than 1,100 people in Bangladesh this April is by no means the first tragedy to strike the garment industry in recent years—but it does look like the culmination of an ongoing PR challenge that could reshape the way major clothing brands market their products. The earliest evidence of this change comes on social media, where companies that had operations in the factory have already begun responding to the demands of consumers and labor activists.

The New York Times reports that many businesses and industry groups now plan to follow the food industry’s example by offering the public more detailed information about how and where their clothes are made. H&M and Zara have agreed to sign a new “factory safety accord,” and major names like Disney, Nike, and Walmart may follow with campaigns designed to appropriate the “green,” “organic,” and “fair trade” themes favored by food and household goods marketers in recent years. The purpose of this material, of course, will be to highlight the brands’ corporate social responsibility efforts and distance them from horrific accidents like the one in Bangladesh.

It’s nothing new for fashion: upstarts like American Apparel began using their own “fair trade” practices as key selling points some time ago. Yet, despite AA’s success, retailers like Maggie’s Organics and Everlane (tagline “Luxury Basics. Radical Transparency.”) remain few and far between.

Not for long.

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Walmart Is America’s Greatest Source of Love

Today in News That Has Absolutely Nothing to Do with PR, we are pleasantly surprised to learn that, despite all the millions spent on eHarmony‘s “algorithm of love” (which presumably had something to do with “figuring out” all those gay people), Americans most commonly name Walmart as the place where they met “the one” — or someone who looks, at first glance, like he or she might eventually become “the one.”

A report in Psychology Today last month found that Walmart is indeed the spot most often cited by Americans who post “missed connections” notes on Craigslist. The article’s author thinks it’s a bad thing that “Americans are selecting heterosexual partners with no regard for compatibility” and even subtitled his piece “A desperate America seeks love at Walmart.”

We guess that buzz-killing sentiment could be true. We only mention the story because we find it hilarious and we think it should inspire a great CSR campaign from Walmart, a company that’s always trying to counteract “unfair” media coverage or some sort of PR “disaster” that no real American knows of or cares about. For a tagline, we’re thinking of something like: “You Think We’re a Heartless Corporation That Treats Its Employees Terribly, Uses Its Considerable Leverage to Put Other Retailers out of Business and Conducts Shady Business Down in Mexico, but We’re Really All About Love.”

What, too heavy-handed?

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