Wal-Mart Hires Image Consultant

Aug 14, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

It isn’t easy being the world’s largest retailer. Wal-Mart has achieved incredible success but has increasingly found itself fighting public relations battles over everything from the treatment of its employees to its impact on Mom and Pop businesses.

Wal-Mart hired the consultancy of Fleishman-Hillard to research how stakeholder groups, including consumers, employees, community leaders and vendors, view the relationships each has with the retailer, reports The New York Times.

Not surprisingly, the research has turned up that the various constituencies find Wal-Mart wanting in a number of areas. The company’s research found “many people view Wal-Mart as a place of dead-end jobs, and that its performance as a corporate citizen leaves much to be desired.”

The company is looking to promote itself as a great place to work and advance a career with three commercials that will air nationally. Messages focus on the career advancement potential that all who work for Wal-Mart enjoy.

Moderator’s Comment: What is your reaction to Wal-Mart’s
image building research and commercials?

Did Wal-Mart really need to hire a consultant to understand
where it faces public relations challenges? We could have given it the answers
it needed at a fraction of the cost of what it paid.

Based on its latest quarter, Wal-Mart really doesn’t seem
to need to be concerned about its reputation. Good, bad or indifferent, the
Bentonville juggernaut marches on.
Anderson – Moderator

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