As the world’s largest retailer and the world’s second largest public corporation, Walmart is regularly challenged to protect its reputation, promote job creation and ensure the brand is always top of mind during crucial shopping “seasons” like back to school and the December holiday period. After a competitive agency review, Walmart chose Landis Communications Inc. (LCI) to develop and implement an ongoing, strategic public relations and community engagement campaign that manages the brand’s reputation in Northern California (seven DMAs in total) – a significant market for the brand. Northern California is an active area, both in terms of growth as well as opposition against new construction of big box retailers. Our challenge was (and continues to be) to enhance the brand’s image and quell negative perceptions among consumers from the California-Oregon border south to Monterey and the Central Valley.
Through a strategic proactive media relations effort, LCI pitched and placed stories that supported Walmart’s reputation of in seven media markets across Northern California:
- San Francisco Bay Area
In order to stay on top of all relevant news in each market, LCI maintains a daily media news monitoring program, sharing important news and appropriate responses with the client. Target audiences include Walmart shoppers, opinion leaders and government officials in key cities and store associates. Among the strategies used to achieve our goals are:
- Aggressively promoting grand openings of Walmarts, Walmart Supercenters and Walmart Neighborhood Markets across Northern California, while highlighting job creation, veteran hiring programs, and economic impact to disadvantaged communities.
- Leveraging the philanthropic efforts of the Walmart Foundation to publicize the good works that Walmart is doing in communities across the region
- Supporting the corporate PR team in getting the word out about various nationwide initiatives that have a local angle (e.g., veteran’s hiring program, The Real Walmart advertising campaign, community donations, local non-profit support programs, job fairs for ethnic communities, etc.)
- Aggressively responding to negative allegations pertaining to wages and benefits, Walmart’s impact on small businesses, etc.
- Engaging the community through listening sessions, community meetings and community monitoring.
LCI achieved tremendous coverage for all initiatives. Key media placements were secured in such media outlets as:
- Daily and weekly newspapers: Sacramento Bee; Sacramento News & Review; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Contra Costa Times; San Jose Mercury-News; Santa Rosa Press Democrat; Vallejo Times-Herald; Fresno Bee; Modesto Bee; Merced Sun-Star; Turlock City News; Turlock Journal; Auburn Journal; Pleasanton Weekly, all local ethnic media in target markets.
- Business publications: Sacramento Business Journal; North Bay Business Journal; Fresno Business Journal, Silicon Valley Business Journal, SF Business Times
- Broadcast outlets: Univision; all broadcast affiliates in Sacramento, Santa Barbara and Fresno; select affiliates in San Francisco, Monterey and Bakersfield
Ethnic Media: local blogs, newspapers, and LOTE broadcasters
Since LCI has worked with Walmart in Northern California, communities have welcomed the stores into their neighborhoods. Media coverage has been consistently positive with the focus on community awareness, job creation and community engagement programs (such as Veteran hiring programs).
By collaborating with other partner PR agencies to maximize Walmart’s ROI while containing the scope of work within budget, LCI not only ensured consistent messaging but also helped achieve the brand’s goals of being positioned as one that benefits each community it serves.