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.
After years of bad press over no-bid contracts and massacres of Iraqi civilians, the private military contractor Blackwater Worldwide has changed its name to the cryptic "Xe" (pronounced "Zee"). In an eerily similar move, disgraced sub-prime mortgage lender Countrywide announced that its new name is the smooth-sounding "Bank of America Home Loans." Rounding out the triumvirate of chameleons, Baghdad's Abu Ghraib Prison, made infamous worldwide for the torture and abuses perpetrated inside its walls by both Saddam Hussein and the U.S. government, is changing its name to "Baghdad Central Prison."
Fake news isn't just for TV newscasts anymore. "The Web's evolving ability to tap niche audiences is expanding the scope of guaranteed placement," or paying to place PR videos. "For our Web distribution, we guarantee placement on major news sites, including Google News [and] MSN," explained PR executive Doug Simon.
The former chairman of the banking and insurance group HBOS, Lord Stevenson, and chief executive Andy Hornby, along with the Royal Bank of Scotland's Sir Tom McKillop and Sir Fred Goodwin, appeared before a British parliamentary committee and profusely apologized for their role in the financial meltdown of the banks they had directed. If the four thought their apologies would garner sympathy, they misread the public mood.