Wal-Mart: Low Prices, PR Triage

Sam Walton just might be spinning in his grave. He was said to detest public relations, preferring to let Wal-Mart products and services speak for themselves. Under the new regime, PR has taken on a special urgency, with company officials locking into a political campaign-like "war room" mentality to respond to critics of its labor and big box store siting strategies. Now comes word that the company is looking for "triage" and "emergency response" talent in its next key hires. Michael Barbaro reported that the executive search firm Crowe-Innes & Associates has been engaged to help find a director of media relations who can manage a "crisis communications program" and "triage" such crises "in rapid response mode." Hours of work: up to "24/7" according to the posting, which was released to the Times by one of Wal-Mart's biggest critics, Wal-Mart Watch. A second job posting seeks a candidate who can address "high profile political activities" and "operate successfully in a campaign mode." Wal-Mart does not seem to worry about low prices when it comes to high level PR: In November, 2005, the Times reported that the company had hired the Edelman public relations firm, including ex-advisers from the camps of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and John Kerry.