Saturday, December 03, 2005

Public Backlash Against Wal-Mart

Zogby International just released a national poll among Americans about their opinions and attitudes towards Wal-Mart. The findings are not pretty. The American public has an increasingly poor view of Wal-Mart. The poll found nearly four in 10 Americans holding an unfavorable opinion of Wal-Mart and more than five in 10 Americans believing Wal-Mart’s image is worse than it was one year ago. The poll reports that 56 percent of American adults agreed with the statement, "Wal-Mart was bad for America. It may provide low prices, but these prices come with a high moral and economic cost." In contrast, only 39 percent of American adults agreed with the opposing statement, "I believe Wal-Mart is good for America. It provides low prices and saves consumers money every day."

The Wal-Mart woes are a 21st century example of the high cost of reputation damage. This mighty retailer is losing the public relations war . Its foes, to name a few --, -- are having a powerful effect on public opinion. It seems that there isn't a day that passes without a knock against the giant discounter.

Two summers ago I worked on an amazingly satisfying project about how companies rebuild reputation. The analysis consumed us for months. The day before we presented the findings, I was catching up on the Financial Times and came across a sentence that struck me. As I am often asked about how to manage reputation, the sentence summed up my thoughts with some minor tweaking. For me, it sums it all up.

Everything in reputation management is very simple,
but nothing in reputation management is very easy.


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