Wal-Mart Buys PR in Bulk

Wal-Mart Stores plans to hire a few outside public relations firms to develop "fresh, emotional PR programming" promoting its grocery, health, clothing, home, hardware, auto and entertainment products, along with Wal-Mart's events, financial services and website. Edelman, which has been Wal-Mart's main PR firm for three years, is among the five or six finalists for the major account. Wal-Mart wants PR firms with "excellent capabilities in the areas of new media, online, media relations, crisis communications and multicultural outreach," according to the company's request for proposals. Firms must have "knowledge of the online retail and online competitive landscape, and satellite media tour vendors." Wal-Mart will put its multiple PR firms "on retainer and then have them bid on individual projects, an effort by the notoriously frugal retailer to contain costs," reports the Wall Street Journal. "By expanding its promotional efforts now, Wal-Mart is looking beyond the recession, trying to improve its chances of holding on to its new customer base when the economy grows." Its PR targets include "customers, journalists, Wal-Mart workers and 'influencers' who blog or are active on social Web sites."