OLD Media Moves

Wal-Mart and reporters meet

April 19, 2006

Wal-Mart Stores has been having its two-day meeting with a group of about 50 reporters that cover the world’s largest retailer, so coverage of the event has begun to trickle out in newspapers.

Los Angeles Times reporter Abigail Goldman, who is in Arkansas at the event, writes, “Increasingly keen to change public perceptions, Wal-Mart again opened its doors to the media as it continues its global expansion. This year’s conference, which concludes today, is a series of meetings featuring top Wal-Mart executives extolling the company’s virtues.

“‘In the past, we’ve been forced to respond to criticism, but in the last year, we’ve taken a more proactive approach to sharing information and our critics have had to respond to us,’ said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Sarah Clark. ‘With success comes criticism, but we know if we didn’t tell our story, no one else would and we didn’t want to let our critics define our reputation.'”

Later, Goldman wrote, “At Tuesday’s media gathering, normally tight-lipped Wal-Mart executives took questions and described their efforts to remain relevant to the hundreds of millions of shoppers who pass through their doors each week.

Wal-Mart logo“Those plans include offering trendier and more-upscale merchandise; working with communities to design stores that better fit in with local architecture; employing local contractors and suppliers — particularly minority-owned businesses — to broaden the company’s appeal in urban areas; and offering healthcare coverage for as little as $20 a month for families.”

Read the LA Times’ story here.

Jeffrey Sheban from the Columbus Dispatch is also in Arkansas, and he wrote, “The two-day event, which ends today, includes tours of operations and meetings with top officials.

“‘We’d like for you to walk out of here, at least for today, and say, ‘Wow, Wal-Mart really does have its act together,’ ‘ spokeswoman Mona Williams said.

“Corportate-strategy expert Jay Barney, a professor at Ohio State University, said the effort is much needed and long overdue.

“‘They’re getting a lot of heat in the press, and they really have kind of a negative reputa- tion in the marketplace in terms of employment and impact on the communities in which they operate,’ he said.”

Read Sheban’s story here.

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