Wal-Mart in 2004: Creating a New Image

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

Case Details:


Case Code : BSTA111 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 300;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 300 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges


Case Length : 11 Pages
Period : 1962 - 2004
Organization : Wal-Mart
Pub Date : 2005
Teaching Note : Not Available
Countries : USA
Industry : Retailing


In recent times, Wal-Mart, the world's largest retail chain has been shaping its public relations strategy to create a new image. During founder Sam Walton's time, Wal-Mart had been relatively small. The public relations department's main function was to keep Wal-Mart out of the news. Walton believed that public relations was an infructuous expenditure. However, the more Wal-Mart grew and the more financial success it had, the more the media paid attention to it. A 1992 NBC Dateline programme was a turning point. The programme showed a tape of Wal-Mart stores where 'Buy USA' signs had been placed on shelves selling clothes made by children in Bangladesh. The resulting negative publicity made Wal-Mart realise that the company had become visible, exposed and vulnerable to media attention.

Since then, Wal-Mart's public relations department has become more proactive, media friendly, and has attempted to portray the company as a leading retailer, good employer, and responsible corporate citizen. Wal- Mart has also set up a government relations department in Washington. Employees are being encouraged to participate actively in local community affairs. The case discusses Wal-Mart's changing public relations strategy as it has grown in size.


  Page No.
Introduction 1
Background 1
The Dateline Program 2
Rediscovering Public Relations 4
Government Liaison 5
Community Involvement 5
Lawsuits 6
The Road Ahead 7
Exhibits 8


Wal-Mart, Retailing industry, Sam Walton, David Glass, Dateline programme on Wal-Mart, Public relations at Wal-Mart, Government liaison, Lawsuits, Community involvement, Lee Scott

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