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Holly Crenca

Perception is reality. The worlds markets are seen through the eyes of billions of people,
all of whom have the ability to form an opinion about a company. With this said, maintaining a
positive reputation is crucial to a companys success. Defined as an intangible asset that
represents a firms values, behaviors, and past actions, reputation is one of the most influential
factors for a business to build. One company stands out among the rest for their questionable
ethics among employees and business practices. The retail corporation, Walmart, has gained a
slew of negative publicity throughout society and media, causing an ongoing Public Relations
crisis, in an attempt to rebuild their reputation. In reaction to many of these criticisms, Walmart
has responded with specific strategies that keep people coming back. I believe that Walmart is
effective in managing their reputation.
Wal-Mart is an American retail corporation operating a chain of discount department
stores all over the world. Opening their doors in 1962, Walmart has grown to over 5,000 stores
nationwide, employing 1.4 million U.S. associates. This year, Walmart increased their net sales
by 1.9% to $482 billion (Walmart Corporate: Our Story). Their mission is to save people
money so that their customers can live better. In doing so, however, there have been
discrepancies between the corporation and the public on issues such as employee salary, health
benefits, discrimination, and community harm. Though their reputation has been tarnished many
times, they have been able to maintain customer loyalty, and high revenues.
In order to rebuild a reputation, however, it is important to have a clear understanding of
the companys strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). The following
examination analyzes some of these factors.

Strengths: As one of the largest discount retail stores in America, the sheer size of the
industry is an advantage to Walmart. Size equates power, and power is what achieves over 400
billion dollars in revenue (Walmart Corporate: Our Story). This also gives many people the
opportunity to find employment and allows for an enormous amount of community and charity
work. All these factors promote a favorable image for Walmart.
Weaknesses: On the other hand, Walmart is also infamous for employee turnover, mediocre
quality, law suits, and manipulation. Entire groups, such as Walmart Watch, have been created
for the purpose of challenging Walmart to become a more ethical company.
Opportunities: Opportunities arise often within Walmart for the company, consumers, and
employees. Due to the stores guaranteed lowest cost policy, consumers have more buying
power, leading to an increase in customer loyalty for the company. Walmart is also unique in its
sophisticated inventory system, giving them an advantage over competitors. People with less
skill, little to no education, and disabilities are also given the opportunity to become employees
and work for a salary and, at times, achieve health benefits.
Threats: Walmart is also constantly faced with threats from competitors and critics. Competitors
that offer similar products and prices, typically have attained a higher reputation over the years.
Also, groups like Walmart Watch have a great amount of influence over the public, including
potential consumers and employees.
After reviewing the analysis, it seems clear that although faced with challenges and
weaknesses, Walmart has the power to maintain its reputation based on the many positive
differences the company is able to make in so many lives. This in no way negates the unethical
behavior Walmart practices, but only recognizes the commitment they have to keeping a good

reputation. Also, as this year goes on, recent changes have been made to company policy in an
attempt to help satisfy those who feel wronged.
A campaign was launched in 2005 called Making Change At Walmart, highlighting the
wrong doings and unethical behavior that Walmart practices. One major complaint made public
by this campaign, is employee treatment. According to their website, Walmart claims that the
average full time hourly wage is $12.78, however this excludes the 49% of people who work
part-time, yet includes some managerial staff. In reality, based on numerous job sites and real life
employees, the actual Walmart hourly wage is between $8.63 and $9.64 an hour (Making Change
at Walmart Facts). In order to combat these claims, Walmarts CEO, Doug McMillon
announced in February their plan to raise the rates on starting pay. Entry level workers were
announced to receive at least $9 an hour, while all current associates will reach $10 an hour by
next year (In Letter to Associates, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon Announces Higher Pay).This
announcement includes not only an article, but a video of McMillon speaking to his associates
directly about the companys appreciation and commitment to them and their work. According to
the Institute for Public Relations, the CEO of the company is not only the leader, but the major
driver of reputation for the firm, and is attributed to 50% of the companys perceived reputation
(Reputation Institute for Public Relations).Therefore, this tactic is a specific strategy
performed by the company to evoke a sense of empathy, care, and action by an authority who has
the power to make change. In addition to this, McMillon not only announced this new offer, but
admitted that although the company tries to always do the right thing, sometimes they dont.
Accepting failure while also moving toward change brings a sense of trust to the company
among employees and consumers.

Walmart also uses its large size and power to give back to the community. Their website
states that Walmart and the Walmart Foundation donates 1.4 billion dollars in cash and
contributions in 2014. Walmart associates volunteers more than 2.2 million hours, and generated
over $18 million dollars in grants. They focus mainly on hunger relief and healthy eating,
sustainability, womens economic empowerment, and career opportunity (Walmart Community
Giving). These areas of giving effect people nationally and globally. According to the Institute
of Public Relations, corporate social responsibility can become a major competitive advantage,
and has been shown to influence consumers attitudes toward a company. It also suggests that the
best programs to support are the ones that are in line with the companys mission (Reputation
Institute for Public Relations). For example, Walmart supports sustainability, focusing on
helping people understand how families and communities can live better by using fewer
natural resources. Helping people live better is a common theme throughout the companys
mission, slogan, and giving back programs, adding consistency to their brand.
It is clear that Walmarts past practices and choices are often questioned and criticized.
However, the company remains financially successful through PR strategies that keep their
reputation strong. While giving back to the community and addressing employee complaints are
only a couple ways Walmart has maintained its reputation with the public, their strong PR team
continues to make changes to satisfy the wants and needs of their employees and customers.

Works Cited
"In Letter to Associates, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon Announces Higher Pay." In Letter to

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon Announces Higher Pay. N.p., n.d. Web. 27

Sept. 2015.
"Making Change at Walmart Facts." Making Change at Walmart RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Sept.
Reputation Institute for Public Relations. Institute for Public Relations. N.p., 14 Jan. 2011.
Web 27 Sept. 2015
Walmart Community Giving. Walmart Community Giving. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Sept 2015.
"Walmart Corporate: Our Story." Walmart Corporate: Our Story. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2015.