Wal-Mart, Anything You Would Like to Say?

walmart Wal Mart, Anything You Would Like to Say?

The PR Verdict: “A” for Wal-Mart and an elegant way to decline comment.

Big trouble ahead for retailer Wal-Mart.  The firm is reeling from Sunday’s NYTimes which claimed that as far back as 2005, Wal-Mart’s big wigs learned of allegations of widespread bribery of government officials in Mexico by its own peeps but did nothing about it.

At heart is an allegation that the internal review conducted by Wal-Mart at the time was a whitewash.  Allegedly conducted by some of the very same people who stood accused of paying up to $25 million in bribes, the NYTimes suggests the firm not only failed to investigate the matter properly but also failed to notify the relevant authorities.  In so doing the firm and its management are now potentially exposed to seriously punitive penalties.

What to say to the NYTimes?  Priority one in a case like this is to buy time and establish distance between what is alleged and where the company is now.  Wal-Mart’s besieged PR commented, “If these allegations are true, it is not a reflection of who we are or what we stand for.  We are deeply concerned by the allegations and are working aggressively to determine what happened.”

The PR Verdict: “A” for Wal-Mart’s response,  an elegant way to decline comment.  As an immediate PR response it established the allegations are unclear, circumstances vague and not what the firm is about.

PR Takeaway:  When in doubt buy time and create distance from the allegation.  While a legal investigation and fallout could take years, the damage to the stock price, relations with regulators and overall reputation will start hurting immediately.  There is very little time.  Suspend or remove the implicated management from the day-to-day workings of the firm.  The faster Wal-Mart can say that was then, this is now, the better for its stockholders.  This is going to be a crisis communications strategy that will have to run and run.

To read the original article click here and to read more click here.

What’s your verdict on Wal-Marts’s response?

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Is It Wise to Mess With A Mother Of Five?

Annromney Is It Wise to Mess With A Mother Of Five?

The PR Verdict: “A” to Ann Romney and the Republicans for milking a relatively harmless comment.

Who would have thought?  Mild mannered Ann Romney moves with lightning speed?  The wife of Republican front-runner Mitt,  had the Democrats springing into damage control mode yesterday, after one of their own handed Republican strategists a PR gift.

It all started when Hilary Rosen a well-known Democratic strategist opined on CNN that Ann Romney is unlikely to connect with female voters.  “His wife has actually never worked a day in her life,”  Rosen said.  “She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing.”

Cue collective outrage!  Instantly! Anti stay at home mom!   Ann Romney tweeted in seconds “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”   From then on it was a no brainer for the Republicans who cashed in on the same drumbeat from years ago, when Hilary Clinton said she is not the sort of woman who bakes cookies.  No wonder the Democrats were running scared.

The PR Verdict:  “A” to Ann Romney and the Republicans for milking a relatively harmless comment and turning it into a media event.  Getting the Democrats on the defensive when up until now they have been in a lead position in the polls with female voters was a PR victory in any book.

PR Takeaway:  Speed is of the essence.  Ann Romney jumped in and talked of her record as a mother instantly before Rosen or Democrats could explain and contextualise.   Within a matter of hours Ann Romney was all over Fox and other media outlets.  Suddenly Democrats had no choice but to distance themselves from their own strategist (who ironically has children of her own).  Justified or not, this was opportunistic PR at its best.   Don’t mess with a mother of five.

To read more about this click here and here.

What’s your PR Verdict? How did Ann Romney do?

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