A New York Times article today reports that Wal-Mart is looking to hire two senior PR executives ASAP. One would hold the title of director of media relations and be responsible for overseeing crisis communications. The second gig is described as a "senior director of campaign management" who will be responsible for directing Wal-Mart’s communications staff and the "war room" from which it monitors and responds to the many, negative attacks leveled at the company.
The two new hires will also be tasked with keeping tabs on "opposition research" and "relations with bloggers," many of whom beat the living crap out of Wal-Mart on a daily, if not hourly, basis.
Wal-Mart’s investment in a sophisticated public relations capability is emblematic of the rise in respect and responsibility our field is experiencing. You don’t see the giant retailer pouring more and more moola into print advertisements or broadcast commercials that consumers are increasingly tuning out or dismissing outright. Instead, the organization is attempting to harness the power and effectiveness of public relations to create direct, honest one-on-one conversations with friend and foe alike, leveraging new and emerging technologies in the process.
I’m no fan of Wal-Mart or its practices, but I salute their recognition of the growing importance of PR in shaping, maintaining and defending an organization’s image, credibility and reputation.
Hat tip to Ed Moed for suggesting this.