Tuesday, June 24, 2014
The old saw in PR that one should never attack another who uses ink by the barrel doesn't always hold true. There are times when it makes sense to respond to the media forcefully, especially when one can do it in style, such as this instance. Wal-Mart's director of corporate communications marked up a highly critical column from a New York Times reporter and posted it on the company's blog. The response was restrained and emphasized facts that the reporter either didn't know or ignored, but would have known if he had only asked the company. The result is that the reporter looks dumb and the column tendentious. The further result is that other media picked up on the blog and ran with the corrections. This is only a partial victory for Wal-Mart. Chances are the reporter won't send a column in advance again rather than risk mockery. Wal-Mart has also burned a potential outlet for its news, but the reporter would never have been other than biased against the company so it was a small loss. On occasions, attacking the media makes sense, but it should be done with care as it was here.