Wal-Mart Blows It Big Time In Chicago

New York Next? The Chicago city council will vote today to raise minimum wages for workers at big box stores like Target and Wal-Mart (Wal-Mart has ambitious expansion plans in Chicago, and they want to move into New York City). Current wages at Chicago stores such as Wal-Mart and Target start at about $7.25 an hour (source – Financial Times). The bill, expected to pass, would mandate $9.25 per hour in 2007, rising to $10 in 2010 for work in “big box” stores, and an additional $1.50 benefits supplement.

Wal-Mart is sparking legislation all over the nation that is doing more to raise workers benefits than any union campaign. By aggressively fighting local governments that want their constituents to have fair wages and benefits Wal-Mart sets itself up as the invading behemoth that is intent on subservience and fealty to the retail machine. Wal-Mart mistakenly believes that these skirmishes are merely “site fights.” There is a larger pattern here they need to recognize, because it permanently alters their operations and bottom line. Put the money they waste on “site fights” into education, job training, infrastructure improvement in the communities where they do business and site fight issues will fade away.  Mark Rose in New York

Wal-Mart Gets Real

 Wal-Mart company logoI have blogged several times about Wal-Mart’s operational and public relations woes. Wal-Mart doesn’t need a PR war room and it does not have to be at war with its critics. It needs to better integrate into the communities in which it does business and give its workers – the spine of the those communities - a better deal. Hiring Leslie Dach of Edelman as its top PR exec, reporting to the CEO, can be seen as a cynical move of a company interested in image over substantive action. But it is really proof that the enormous makeover that the country’s largest employer is currently undergoing operationally can only be successful if they communicate effectively – as honestly as possible – with all their constituents. Wal-Mart is not just another big company. No other company sparks such intense grassroots, widespread debate and no other company has such a profound economic, political, and sociological impact on so many local communities.

Dach is probably the one who got Al Gore to Bentonville to screen an “Inconvenient Truth” during Wal-Mart’s big green-is-good-fest. How brilliant is that? The big question: How does this move impact Edelman’s standing with WalMart?  

What the hell is going on at Ford?

Ford Bold Moves Ad/Marketing/Blog campaignDo you have to be desperate to be good? In the case of Ford Motor Company, the answer is yes. The American people love the truth and they love an underdog … is the headline that caught my eye in a frame that could have been excised from a punk rock band documentary. The Ford Bold Moves campaign is a hail mary pass from an American industrial icon that is in danger of fading into oblivion. Its answer? An online documentary series that begins with Change or Die. 

The documentary series is being produced by JWT Detroit and JWT New York, and directed by Radical Media Inc., a New York-based production company. The language, and the images, are radical. No more B.S. … constructive conflict…  Then there are the blog comments that seem unfiltered and are sometimes unflattering (Just build us a great car and get out of the way. We don’t want to think about our cars. Toyota gets it. Why don’t you?)

Ford is betting that resurrecting the Shelby Mustang will create a halo around the company and lift its image and generate sales. Blog postings show that skepticism reigns and some believe that “No more B.S.” is another form of B.S. Others post surprisingly informed and passionate views in a Point/Counterpoint to the idea of the death of the American car.

The look and feel of this whole campaign is edgy, a roll of the dice, a bold adventure.  On a visceral level it says that Ford is revamping the company from the ground up, from how they think and operate, to how they produce cars. Can this campaign accelerate internal change and external perception? Stay tuned.

Ford Bold Moves



Mark Rose, New York

Horton Scoops The New York Times

Last Wednesday, 7/11 (see below) I posted that the easiest way to get relevant news for your PR blog was to pilfer from consistent and prescient Jim Horton in Online Public Relations Thoughts. 7/11 Jim posted about a breakthrough study on the shelf life of news online and today we see Noam Cohen at The New York Times reports on “News Online Seems to Have a Long Shelf Life” (online subscription) C2 print edition. So, Horton scooped The Times by six days … is Cohen also pilfering ideas from Horton? Or do we sense a smart PR person somewhere pitching The Times. (See physicsweb story on “Reading The News“). Jim Horton joined Rob Key and Richard Edelman in Q & A I moderated for Global PR Blog Week 2.0 EDITORS’ CHOICE: Blogs Force Change In PR Agency Practices. – Mark Rose, New York

The skeleton of the studied web portal has 933 nodes. The area of the circle assigned to each node in the figure is proportional to the logarithm of the total number of visits to the corresponding web document. The widths of the links are proportional to the logarithm of the total number of times the hyperlink was used by the surfers on the portal. The central largest node corresponds to the main page origo.hu directly connected to several other highly visited sites (image and text: Phys. Rev. E 73 066132).


Blog Disaster Relief – Mumbai

Mumbai Help, a blog that was set up for disasters in the Mumabai area, is serving as a central digital disaster relief source after the commuter train blasts. In the past two hours there have been 81 posts of people from all over the world trying to get in touch with relatives in the area. People in India have been locating relatives and posting their status. There are many other posts with updated news.

The site was established after heavy rains lead to disaster. It serves as a portal to learn about road conditions, rescue efforts, blood drives, food, water, etc.  Updates are coming fast. This may be a model blog that should be established for rapid disaster communication in any community.