And, as the brilliant movie, 'The High Low Cost of Low Prices' has already documented, Wal-Mart is positively predatory when it comes to crushing small, mom-and-pop competitors and spying on employees to ensure they don't attempt to unionize.
So, the uber big box chain's announcement today that it intended to offer jobs to more than 100,000 returning U.S. military personnel is a bold and brilliant public relations move.
In one fell swoop, the beleaguered behemoth switched the media conversation from their ongoing financial shenanigans to a discussion about one of the most patriotic moves in Corporate America's history. And, I'm sure it will work for the short-term (or, until their next scandal erupts).
I salute Wal-Mart's decision to support our returning troops but I must say that, to a seasoned public relations executive, the motives for doing so are questionable at best.
Coca-Cola seems to be doing something comparable with its new advertising campaign that urges consumers to drink Coke's empty calories in a responsible way. And, The Catholic Church's decision to have Pope Benedict XVI begin Tweeting provided an ever-so-brief hope they were finally waking up to realities of the modern world.
Both, though, are really just PR ploys intended to change the conversation.
So, Wal-Mart's move in my mind, is just a new page from the same, old crisis communications chapter; the one entitled, 'When in doubt, obfuscate.'
And a tip 'o Repman's hat to Greg Schmalz for suggesting this topic.